Why nudes hardly ever make it on to a book cover

Now, as much as some of you might nod and think it is obvious. To lot’s of people it’s not hence why I’m chatting about it.

Nudes. Yes they can be suggestive, beautiful, strong, empowering and can create a story. BUT.

There is a but. (No pun intended)

Ask yourself.

Have you ever seen a famous book cover nowadays with a nude woman on the cover? No. Christ you can’t even put a nipple on Instagram, twitter or facebook, how on earth would they be able to market it fully? They couldn’t. Also people are very self conscious about reading erotica already but to then clad the book in naked ladies especially nipples? Nope, it’s RARELY going to happen.

Yes there are a few covers out there with a bit of nip but MOST of the time, to publishers it’s not worth the risk. It’s a waste of your time concentrating on doing a ton of nudes/semi nudes for potential book covers.

If you want to create sensual content and tackle the erotica novels world…


Bear in mind, a lot of erotica is now sold on Kindle, it is indeed a HUGE market, it’s worth dipping into if you enjoy that work and your work lends itself there for sure. I’ve done some research and found the following to help guide some of you that might want to go into the world of photographing Erotica book covers without doing nudes.


Close up, mouths open, sexual ‘faces’ underwear but close bodies. Men are often topless wearing jeans or in suits, rarely something else. Women are often in submissive poses too. There is always copy space too, always keep space for copy!


Often half naked men, VERY ripped bodies and jeans, sometimes half open suit trousers but generally, these guys faces are NOT important, hidden or cropped. They are generally heavily masculine images, textures, hyper contrast etc. Most of the tattoos are also photoshopped in afterwards so I’d avoid trying to find heavily tattooed men, just a regular ripped guy!


Underwear primarily and some more ‘fantasy’ based images appear too. It’s always nipples covered though, even if a woman is technically topless, nothing is actually showing. Usually these women have large breasts, good cleavage and curvier bodies. Again often faces are not generally as important and get cropped but it’s strange but true these women often have dark LONG hair, pout and heavily ‘made up’.

Non faces:

Close up of bodies, torsos and crotch areas WITH underwear, close contact, hands on hips etc. Grabbing a girls bum too, then there’s just pure suggestion. Tied up hands, red features as a heavy colour in Erotica of course.


Historical erotica is really rather popular nowadays. It’s a very different type of imagery too, more elegant and ‘classier’, no nudity just mainly suggestion. Again faces not so important it’s about suggestion.

So yes I don’t do Erotica, I’ve had a few Erotica novels ironically but not from what you would expect. No nudity.

I felt the need to bring this up because I see some nude images across the book cover agencies and for some reason more new-ish and amateur turning pro photographers seem to take a fair few nude images which is absolutely fine, but they then get upset and disheartened when they don’t make many sales.

But it is REALLY not worth pursuing nudes with book covers in mind and if you REALLY want to pursue a career taking photographs for book covers for a living you are better off spending your time on either getting really good at Erotica not nudes or tackling a different genre all together.

If after all this you think “FU*K YEAH! I could totally smash the Erotica genre but where do I start?!” Take a look at my 'Breaking into book covers’ online video course, I go step by step about submitting your images, where to submit them, what mistakes to avoid and everything I’ve learnt in my career.