I recently saw this comment on a book on Goodreads:
Besides giving me a good laugh, it also made me wonder who the people on book covers are. How do they get to be the person representing that character? How can the author ever find the perfect match in a real person to how they’ve imagined the character while writing? How do you get into the business of being a cover model?
The classic names
Cindy was a new name to me, but Fabio made a lot of things from the past click; jokes from TV shows and such suddenly made sense. He’s so famous that most of his movie or tv show appearances just cast him as “Himself.” One was even for a role titled “Handsome Man.” Also, wasn’t he the Beast Master or something? You can get a pretty good idea of the kind of characters he typically got cast for in the example cover for “Warrior’s Woman” below. 😏
They both primarily starred in covers for romance novels, which honestly sounds so fun. You get to dress up in gorgeous or unique or sexy clothes (or dress down in maybe minimal clothes), and have a professional take super flattering photos of you. Then on top of that, they get to be used for BOOKS!
I’m fairly sure Fabio had the record for most number of books using him as their cover model, set at 500. But times have changed, and apparently so have tastes, because there’s was a new man around in the 2010s who sought to shatter that record — and did.
…Not what I expected?
Jason Baca is the name of the guy who has set the new record for being on the most book covers. (It might be a record for only romance novels, I’m unsure, but either way a damn lot. Over 630, in fact. He retired in 2019 after saying the excitement had dulled and he wanted to pursue other passions, which kind of makes sense after so many.
After seeing Fabio as the last wildly popular model, it’s interesting to see how Baca’s style differs! It’s hard to come up with any solid conclusions just based on this, but it does make me curious as to how the main themes of romance novels have changed over the years. I’m sure there was a spike in paranormal romance around 2008 (thanks Stephanie Meyer!), but I’d like to know what else has happened!
How to find out who’s on that cover?
If you, like Tucker from the beginning of our post, would really like to know who that smokeshow on the front of your well-worn romance novel is, there are ways! Primary suggestions include:
- contact the publisher and ask! Usually a good place to start
- check the front matter in the book. The name of the photographer or other designer for the cover should be on there, and possibly the model names as well
- reverse image search! Simple and effective
Though a (hopefully not needed) disclaimer that you’ll probably need a decent reason before anyone will disclose someone’s contact info. But if you find yourself researching or are looking for a model for your own book, these are the ways to start!
PS – here’s another article I enjoyed with an interview of a female romance cover model.