I don’t know about you but I have a thing for book covers. I try not to discriminate but when an author, especially an indie author, has a cruddy or cheap looking title then I assume that the book isn’t good. Why? Because in my mind it means that they either it was hurriedly thrown together (which makes me wonder how long they spent on the book) or I wonder if even they didn’t think it was good enough to spend money on.
I work for an author. I KNOW what it’s like to chose a cover. I KNOW what it’s like to have to guess what readers are going to want to pick up. I KNOW what it’s like to spend money on a cover because you KNOW this book is worth the expense.
As I was having a similar conversation with Cindy McDonald recently when she laughed and told me her experience in chosing a cover. Now, I’d like her to tell you —
A Hot Cover for HOT COCO
I love the cover of HOT COCO. I was thrilled the way the designer, Todd Aune, placed the horses behind my name, and then to make the details complete, he put Keystone on the saddle towels in the picture—you have to look close, but it is there. Keystone Downs is the fictitious name of the racetrack where the Unbridled Series takes place. This wasn’t the first cover, oh no, we adjusted the design four times before we decided upon this one.
The first one had the same two characters on the front, only she was clutching his gathered shirt in her hands, exposing his chiseled abs, whispering in his ear, as he gazed upon her longingly, clinging to every sultry word. Okay, at least that’s the way I interpreted the pose. It was hot! I was enamored! My publishing manager, Lauren Carr—God bless her—let me enjoy a full day of dancing around my living room in love with the really hot cover for HOT COCO, until she decided it was time to reason with me.
“If that’s the cover you want, that’s fine,” Lauren carefully began, “but I think it projects the wrong image for your book.” She took a deep breath, “This cover will insinuate that there is sex in the story. You don’t do sex scenes, Cindy your scenes are suggestive but not sexual. Therefore, some readers that are looking for erotica will be disappointed, and those readers that are not, won’t read the book because the cover gives them the wrong idea. You will have upset two groups of people that will never buy your books again.”
Drats! She was one hundred percent correct. The fact of the matter is you must choose your cover very carefully. You want to tell a story with your cover, but you don’t want to tell too much, and you certainly don’t want to tell the wrong one.
I was equally as thrilled with the cover design of my first book of The Unbridled Series, DEADLY.COM. The cover told my story in a subtle way. A deranged man stalking a beautiful young woman on the internet, and the binoculars ominously scrolled across the top with the galloping Thoroughbreds in the lenses, alerted the reader that this would somehow factor in a racetrack. The cover was eye-catching without being menacing or too telling. I’ve received many compliments for this cover, and wouldn’t change a thing—although it’s not very…hot.
The back of your cover is just as important as the front. The information on the back can sell your book, or have the potential reader place it back on the shelf with a shrug of their shoulder, and an “eh” tumble from their lips. Not good.
A good synopsis is essential. I’m rather tickled with the summation that I’ve written for HOT COCO, it’s short, sweet, snappy, and pretty darned clever, if you ask me—I may be a bit biased. Am I thrilled with synopsis on the back of DEADLY.COM? Mmmm, not so much. As a matter of fact, I’ve had people that loved the book tell me that the synopsis is totally wrong for the book—one person told me that it gives too much away. Uh, oh, there’s something that you really don’t want to do—give away the ending of your book.
Believe it or not some authors have done just that. They write a very detailed synopsis that includes the ending, such as: And in the end, Charlatan wins the race to seize back Westwood Thoroughbred Farm’s reputation! Oh dear, why would anyone want to read the book now, when the suspense has been ruined and they know who will win the race, and that Westwood will be exonerated? (BTW, I did not do that)
Some authors believe that if they write a synopsis that includes an uplifting ending, people will want to read the book to see how Charlatan wins the race, and to find out why the horse farm needed to be exonerated. I doubt it. The reader will most likely bypass the book and move on to another with a synopsis that leaves them wondering how the story will end. It would be a better idea to write: Westwood’s future depends on the mighty grey gelding, Charlatan. But can he pull off the big win? Make sense?
Confession: I keep a print of the original cover for HOT COCO on the bulletin board in my office. Why? Well to tell you the truth, because I really like it, and it was really hot. More importantly it is a reminder that the right cover, conveying the right message is crucial to good marketing.
Reviewers: if you are interested in reading and reviewing my latest book from The Unbridled Series, Dangerous Deception, please contact me at: email@example.com
For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/ choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and the happenings at the racetrack.
Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is more…racy. The drama is outrageous—not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.
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