Last night, I attended my first ever RWA chapter meeting. What a great night! This was my local chapter, Greater Detroit RWA. I tagged along with my friends who write as Violet (Velvet) Summers so I could cheer when she/they received their First Sale Rose (woot!). An added bonus, the special guest was none other than Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher, Ellora's Cave.
Raelene gave a terrific presentation on cover art. What was interesting was her perspective, coming from a publisher's POV, versus that of an author's. Her definition of a "Bad" cover was interesting, in some ways in direct conflict with an author's definition. For example, many authors (and some readers) are annoyed by covers displaying characters with the wrong colored hair or nationality.
For instance, my very book with Ellora's Cave, Tempting Fate
The cover is very nice. It says Sexy Contemporary Romance
, doesn't it? Sure! It also says Steamy Office Romance
, too. Which is totally appropriate.
But take a look at the heroine. Does she look like a red-headed Irish woman? No, not so much.
Now, when I received this cover, I was brand spanking new. I made not a peep
about the dark haired woman masquerading as my Irish heroine. I pick my battles, LOL. Has that cover hurt sales of my book? Probably not. Has that cover hurt sales of my future books? Nope. No harm, no foul, as they say. This is a good cover, despite the inconsistency.
Now, let's take a look at another one of my covers. This is my first Kensington paranormal romance, Sex and the Single Ghost
This is a super-cute cover. Nice and bright and sassy. The characters are obviously young. It says Chick Lit, to me. Or maybe
. And I don't think I'm the only one who sees that when they look at this cover.
I worked in a bookstore for a little over a year. When people picked it up, they said things like, "This looks cute." Or "I could buy this for my high school-aged daughter to read." They're expecting a light, sassy, funny read.
In some respects, they're going to get what the expect. There are parts that are sassy and funny.
But in others ways, the reader is in for a BIG surprise.
Would you ever guess there are elements of horror in this book? And BDSM? It's not all cute shoes and snark. It's an erotic romance.
The minute I received my first review, "A large chunk of this story reads like a rather typical erotic romance with mild BDSM." I knew I was in trouble. Obviously, the reviewer wasn't prepared for the story she'd found inside that cover.
I'm a new Kensington author. For those who don't know anything about the business, new authors generally have no input into covers, and once they're done and the book is been printed, there's absolutely nothing that can be changed. In other words...I've got to live with it.
I love my publisher. I certainly don't want to make waves. Instead, I want to make this work for me, somehow.
So, what did I do?
I wrote the following and posted it everywhere I could, including Amazon,
"Since the cover of this book looks so different from my other covers, I thought I'd give you, the potential reader, an idea of what this book is about.
First, understand that I write erotic romance. My books are funny, and I believe the cover gives readers that impression. But they're also sexy, with graphic sex scenes and mild bondage.
If you enjoy funny, super-sexy stories, a typical Tawny Taylor--or erotic tales with a bit of mystery--you're bound to love this one (bound...no pun intended).
In summary, Sex and the Single Ghost is about a dead woman, Claire, who comes back to life to solve the mystery of her death and do a random good deed or two for a stranger. And since there's no sex in Purgatory, where she's been awaiting this big once-in-nine-years chance, she's looking to take full advantage of nine long nights with her ex-flame, Jake.
So, that's it. The story behind the cover."
Was that enough? Could I do more to take advantage of what I think is a misleading cover? Absolutely. My poor book hasn't hit in bestseller lists. I'm open to suggestions! I mean, if Christina Dodd can become known as the writer of the three-armed-woman book, there's got to be something I can do, right?
Tawny Taylor, the author of the YA BDSM book. *groan* Help me out here, folks.
Oh! How about Sex and the Single Ghost, Finally, an erotic book with a kid-friendly cover. Read at baseball games, the park, or doctor's office waiting rooms...No one will ever guess what you're reading...
Maybe we'd better take a look at some Oh-So-Right covers.
Animal Urges is one of my strongest selling series at EC, and I attribute the sales to the covers. I love, love, love this cover. It says sexy men and science. It accurately reflects the book's tone and genre. And it's just yummy to look at.
Dark Master is my first Aphrodisia release. And this cover is just PERFECT. It says Erotic Romance. And I think the image even hints at the BDSM.
This cover most definitely falls into the Oh-So-Right category.
So, now you've seen my covers, the good, the bad and the oh-so-right. Readers, authors, what are your favorite covers? Or what covers do you feel totally mislead the customer, promising a very different kind of story than what's inside? Among Raelene's examples, she included a historical vampire that boasted an adorable contemporary-looking illustrated cover (I'm trying to remember the title of that book). Let's have some fun, talking about covers.
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