The whole business of what attracts is a total mystery to me, especially when it is compounded by cultural differences between countries. Here are the covers to The Isles of Glory trilogy. One set is Australian and one set is American.
As an Australian when I look at the American covers – and this is a personal observation, not a criticism – I think they don’t represent my books very well. However, I know nothing about marketing, and have to believe that my publishers do. They know what sells and why. The American covers are done by a very talented fantasy artist, Scott Grimando, and I certainly have no complaints about his skills, yet I can’t help but feel they suggest a raunchy book, which it is not. Does it suggest that to American readers too? I’d love to know.
And I like to think my fantasy books are more than swords & scorcery action novels – although there is plenty of that too. To me, the Australian covers suggest that world beyond the action, the other story I have tried to tell about power and people and belief and love and mystery. By use of the ‘porthole’ effect, they cleverly give a hint of an important aspect of the books – the fact that outsiders come to observe the people of the islands.