Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

Archive for the ‘xcite books’ Category

Erotica Cover Watch: Temptations, ed. Miranda Forbes

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Erotica Cover Watch: Temptations, ed. Miranda Forbes, pub. Xcite Books


Dear All,

Having a lovely wank holiday. These men are The weather is seriously fucking hot. Been doing lots of sightseeing. Violet Blue Someone said our argument hotel was very 1970s but we think maybe her sunshades are too strong because as you can see, it’s excitingly fresh and modern around here. We’re loving all the cock …
tails. Luckily for us, they are called names like ‘Three’, ‘Two’ and ‘One’ so we don’t have to struggle with the usual stuff like ‘Screaming Multiple Outrage’ and ‘God Bollocks It’s Another Naked Babe on a Book for Women’!

Our biggest problem is deciding which one we like best! We’ve done lots of taste tests and I think ‘Three’ is my favourite. It reminds me of the many Cowboy Cocktails I’ve sampled. Last night when I asked Mat for her favourite, she couldn’t actually speak! I think she’d had a bit too much!!!

Hope you are all well and aren’t missing us too much!

Lots of love,

Kristina and Mat xxx


The Temptations series will be launched in November in the UK, each book costing only £2.99. Xcite say ‘The cover designs break with tradition but reflect a recent Xcite customers poll which revealed that 43% wanted to see a male on the cover, 30% a female and 27% a couple. The Temptations series deliver four mixed-theme erotic stories primarily aimed at female readers which feature a semi-naked man on each cover.’

And why did Xcite initially question the predominance of female models on erotica covers? Because they read our blog and they listened, giving Erotica Cover Watch its first glorious victory earlier in the year! It’s wonderful to see Xcite are continuing to feature hot guys on their covers. I truly love these images! And wonderful, too, to have a publisher who takes note and responds so positively instead of, ah, you know … not.


Written by Kristina Lloyd

September 17, 2009 at 6:48 am

Erotica Cover Watch 1 : Naysayers 0

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We’re back! It’s beautiful! And we’re boasting! Find out why by scrolling down this man:


Remember when we started Erotica Cover Watch? We wanted to highlight how unfair it was that sexy books always featured sexy women on the covers and *never* sexy men. It was a crazy time on the blog with people zooming in from far and wide to join the debate. We got a lot of enthusiastic support (thank you!) and a lot of flak (yeah, sod off!). One of the frequent criticisms we heard was that you couldn’t put a guy on a cover because the world would end. OK, I’m paraphrasing a tad. What some of our critics said was that our efforts were pointless since publishers’ attitudes were never going to change. Were a publisher ‘to go radically against the grain,’ we were told, ‘they would just be committing commercial suicide’.

Back in September, we didn’t know if anyone with influence would take any notice of what we were saying. Of course, we hoped they would. I wrote: If one publishing co, having heard what we are saying, opts to put a bloke on the cover instead of a woman […] and they actually give consideration to women as consumers, I’d consider that a victory.

And so we have it! Our amazing victory! Yippee!

When we first stumbled across Sex and Satisfaction 2 on one of our regular patrols, we were so happy we did a little dance (the BICEPS boogie). But it wasn’t until we got in touch with Xcite’s editor, Miranda Forbes, that we realised the decision to put a guy on the cover was a result of our campaigning! Yes, lil ol’ us! We did it! And you lot – the people who’ve supported us by commenting, lurking, emailing, drooling, spreading the word or joining our Man Candy Mondays – you are all part of our success and you too must do the BICEPS boogie!

After we’d caught our breath, we put a few questions to Miranda about Xcite and the sexy, wet man in a low-slung towel and this is what she said:

Practically all erotica covers feature a sexy woman. What inspired you to put a hot guy on the cover of Sex and Satisfaction 2?

Well, I must confess that it’s a direct result of reading the Erotica Cover Watch blog! We do tend to go for female covers but you made us think again and hence the sexy hunk this time.

We’re thrilled! Thank you. What’s the response been like so far?

So far we have only got the reaction of the trade buyers but orders are good so it is looking promising.

On ECW, we’ve heard people argue publishers can’t put hot guys on erotica covers because people will assume the book’s aimed at gay men. Has this been a concern of yours?

Yes, I did get that feedback from one of the buyers who felt it looked like a book aimed at gay men. We will have to see what our readers feel. I do understand that many women prefer a man on the cover. We are quite unusual because we accept male writers writing using male names – since most of our readers enjoy heterosexual stories it seemed a shame to exclude men from writing them!

We’ve also been told booksellers would refuse to stock such books on the grounds the reading public don’t like men on their smut. Have any of your usual stockists turned the book down?

No, all our usual outlets have placed orders for this title so it will be available in the UK from Waterstones, Borders, WH Smith, LoveHoney, Ann Summers and Amazon UK (also Amazon US).

The first Sex and Satisfaction is Xcite’s bestselling title to date. Are you optimistic about the success of Sex and Satisfaction 2? Do you feel you’re taking a financial risk in putting a guy on a potential top-selling title?

Yes, Sex and Satisfaction is our bestselling title to date which goes to show our readers want sex AND satisfaction! It was a risk but we felt it was a good book to try the new cover format as we expected it to do well and it would get good exposure.

Can readers look forward to more Xcite books with sexy guys on the cover?

I really hope so. We will monitor the reaction and will use more men if we get a good response. We are also using couples more and Ultimate Curves features a lovely curvy girl since all the stories celebrate sexy larger ladies.

How did you choose the image? Did someone have to trawl through hundreds of photos of semi-naked men? If so, can we have their job please?

Sorry, not giving up that perk of my job – I also get to read sexy stories every day, it’s tough but someone has to do it! The hardest part is thinking up new titles so suggestions are welcome. Please email them to – there’ll be a free goodie box for any we use.

* * *

Sex and Satisfaction 2 has just been released and we’ve got a fabulous 25% discount for readers of Erotica Cover Watch. The anthology features stories from top smutters including Donna George Storey, Scarlet mag regular, Carmel Lockyer (aka Kay Sexton), Sommer Marsden, Dakota Rebel and soon-to-be Xcite novelist, Jeremy Edwards, whose story, Moistened by Mercer, can be downloaded for free right here!

If you support our campaign and would like to see more hot guys on erotica book covers we urge you to put your money where the muscle is and buy this book! To claim your 25% discount via Xcite’s store, simply add the code ECW25 to your order and £7.99 magically becomes £5.99! It’s easy-peasy. I know because I just tried it – and now (despatch within two hours!) I’m looking forward to owning my very first erotic fiction anthology with a guy on the cover. Jeesh, feels like we’re making history here!

* * *

Boy FUN _x

Since we did this interview with Miranda, Xcite have released their second erotica cover featuring a super-sexy guy. Boy Fun is, as you may have guessed, m/m, so straight guys aren’t really part of its target audience, meaning this cover doesn’t challenge erotica’s sexist norms in quite the way Sex and Satisfaction 2 does. However, it is totally fucking hot so we think you need to see it! Plus, it’s great that an erotica imprint whose books are aimed primarily at women are embracing m/m. Erotic romance cottoned on to m/m’s hotness a long time ago. Hurrah, erotica is catching up!

Boy Fun is set for release in March 2010 and Xcite are still open to submissions of guy-on-guy action. Check out their guidelines here along with Xcite’s other current calls for subs.

And remember, Xcite are looking for title suggestions so drop them a line if you want to be in with a chance of winning a goodie box.

If you want Sex and Satisfaction 2 to be the first of many books featuring hot guys on the cover, please let the publishers know by buying yourself a copy. The code ECW25 will get you 25% off the cover price at Xcite. Then read it on the train, on the bus, on the tube; tell all your friends; link to this blog, and help us spread the word: women find men sexy! More please!

Kristina x

Written by Kristina Lloyd

July 2, 2009 at 7:11 am

Erotica Cover Watch: Spank Me, ed. Cathryn Cooper

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Spank Me, ed. Cathryn Cooper, pub. Xcite Books

Watched by Mathilde Madden

I’ve been looking forward to this one.

Because Xcite Books are somewhat interesting. They are relative newcomers to the erotica scene in the UK and when they began they appeared to be courting a very clear market.

I spoke to founding editor Cathryn Cooper around the times the books began (We were both being photographed for a newspaper article on erotica writers that ended up being titled ‘We Think About Sex All Day!’) and she was very clear about the gap in the market for short, sweet erotic stories that appealed to women. (I’m paraphrasing wildly – it was some time ago – but I’m pretty sure she said something like this.)

And when the books appeared, Xcite did seem to have a clear idea where their slice of the market lay.

The book jackets were pretty ice cream colours –  a world apart from the erotica staple of black and red and more black. The emphasis was on sexy, kinky stories, with a leaning towards the ever popular women’s fantasy of female sexual submission.

Oh, and spanking. There was quite a lot of spanking. All good as far as I’m concerned.

In so many ways Xcite were a breath of fresh air in erotica publishing. (They even offered reasonable money for a reasonable word length!) Particularly in the design of the books. Or at least their designs were fresh and new in many ways except one. Can you guess which one?

Shall we take a look at some more of their covers at random?

Xcite books peepl – that’s all very pretty, but, hey, you ever heard of menz?

The X Factor
Oh Xcite books, Xcite books, Xcite books, how did you miss refreshing the clunkiest cliche of all? Every cover is a picture of a woman! When you went for that women’s erotica market did you never think of us poor straight women? And surely you know that in erotica books the ‘women’s arse = erotica’ connection is as dog tired as I am of seeing it.

I mean, look at these more, ahem, traditional erotica covers – these are no way as pretty as Xcite’s covers – but one thing connects these three to the last three covers above.

That last one is a Black Lace book. Now I’m not saying they – or anyone – can’t do a naked woman’s arse on the cover. Because sure maybe someone’s hot fantasy is wearing gloves and heels and sitting on a bullwhip. It’s just that rather more women’s fantasies (which is what BL books are meant to be about) might involve – huh? – a naked man.

And although BL do do that – sometimes, when they are calling themselves erotic romance – if they’ve ever done a man this naked on the cover, I missed it. Not saying bullwhip sitters shouldn’t have their representation too, just that maybe some of us with that outlandish sexual deviance of female hetness might get the odd look in too.

Fair shares – that’s all I’m saying. And if your books are aimed at women – well – you might want to let your designers know that.

But, nah. Want a naked male arse on an erotica cover – pretty much one place only.

Yep, pretty. I’d say prettier than ice cream stripes. And strictly for the boys.

Oh Arse!
The disembodied woman’s arse is probably my least favourite way of ignoring straight women when it comes to designing erotica books. The fact that so many erotic books feature a naked woman’s arse has to be the biggest insult, because there’s no way women are even identifying here. How can we? It’s just an arse. What? I’m going to aspire to be like the arse? No, the arse says (um, ‘scuse the mental image) if you are sexually attracted to men (unless you are a gay man) you can fuck off, dearie. Now move out the way so we can check out the cheeks on her!

And getting back to the particular cover under discussion. Yes, I see how if the book is about spanking a picture of an arse sort of makes sense. But if the book is aimed at women who get off on a ‘I’ve been a bad girl’ fantasy – does it really make all that much sense?

Now, I am assuming from the declarations on Xcite’s website that the books are aimed at women, that this means the books are, well, aimed at women. So how come if us women want to fantasise about some hot spanking session it is assumed we want to look at a woman’s arse for that? I don’t need an illustration of how spanking works.

If you are a guy reading this book, a guy who gets off on the idea of spanking a woman, then yes, looking at a woman baring her arse makes perfect sense. But if you are a woman who likes the idea of being spanked… well, I just don’t get it.

And who is the title ‘Spank Me‘ addressing? When it’s put together with a cover shot like that, this book seems to be overriding its female friendly colour-scheme to ooze male fantasy fulfilment. Pretty little arse asking for a spanking. What has that got to do with books for women?

Big Hard Hands and an Expansive Lap
So why aren’t the subjects of these covers more relevant to the female end (forgive the pun) of the fantasy they are selling here? (And, before I forget, I’m certain the stories inside are wonderful and do just that.) Why don’t they, in fact, feature a picture of a man? A man with big hard hands and an expansive lap? Why doesn’t the cover snarl at me with Over My Knee or Who’s For Spanking?

And when, in their blurb and their author guidelines, Xcite say they are for women (but can be enjoyed by men), isn’t a lot given away in those parentheses? Is that a bracketed promise that male customers can enjoy the books too code for ‘because Xcite won’t put any man flesh on the covers that might make poor male tummies feel a bit funny’.

Have I missed something? Would that make, erotica books like, explode, or something? Or would it put men off buying them in a way ice cream colours just don’t? Because you know, I’m pretty sure that not putting off male buyers is the real reason why erotica covers are they way they are. I just wish someone would admit it. And then maybe we could work out a way to move on. (Maybe stopping under-estimating male consumers could be a start.)

Back to Basics
Incidentally, Xcite recently brought a non-ice cream coloured book. They changed the covers back to erotica’s usual black ‘n’ red ‘n’ black for this memoir. Guess what cover element they kept the same though.

So what do you think? Do you like the Xcite covers? They are certainly new and different – but did they change the right things? And what would you like to see on the cover of a book about spanking?


Coming Soon: Two weeks ago I watched the covers of Best American Erotica. We’re thoroughly delighted that editor Susie Bright has been in touch to say this ‘scandalous’ and ‘depressing’ issue has been on her mind for years. And she’s offered an interview spilling the inside story on the state of erotica covers. Keep Watching!

Written by mat

October 9, 2008 at 7:33 am