Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Author, Cover or Blurb?

The age-old question continues. When you buy a new book, what attracts you first? Why am I rehashing this age-old question?

Starting with what draws me in - I get dozens of newsletters touting dozens of new books, old books, discounted books, etc. So what motivates me to buy? I've got to be honest. It starts with an author I know, who's work I admire. They're the front runners, by far, but after that? I do believe in giving "new to me" authors a try. There are lots of books that don't get the exposure they need in an over-saturated market. A catchy title might intrigue me, and maybe a cover, but those can't do it alone. I need a strong blurb to go with. Many times I've gotten sucked in by a provocative title, an interesting cover, and read the blurb only to run away. A poorly phrased/worded blurb can be the kiss of death. This is the representation of what's inside the book, and if it sucks, well, I don't hold out hope for the story.

And next, wondering what draws my readers in. I've been promoting the Epitaph series, since they are my latest endeavor, but I have to say I find it fascinating when I have something scheduled for a day, say a guest blog post or interview, and someone buys a different one of my books. Definitely not complaining, but it begs the question of what drew you to that book. I have my theories.

First - the Epitaph series, while there are ghosts in the stories, are still romances. Romantic suspense even (moreso the first and third ones). The covers are dark and mysterious to let the reader know there's something lurking in the shadows, but I've discovered from my ARC readers it wasn't the ghosts that drew them in. They were pleasantly surprised that the story was so much more than ghosts. So maybe I'm not marketing them properly, but I can't imagine a cover that represents a walk on a sunny beach when the hero and heroine are hiding out in a potentially haunted house.

Now, let's move over to Cookie Therapy, my "good to be alive" book. This is the first of my novels where I opted for a shirtless male on the cover (enter my adult nephew inquiring why there's a naked fireman on the cover of my book). I admit, I was nervous about that, but it represented the story. Matt, the fireman, has a reputation, earned or not. Funny thing, after it was published, I read an interview with one of my favorite romance authors who does NOT put shirtless men on her covers. She asked her audience what they thought, and they said they'd rather not see that. And she writes STEAMY STUFF (not erotica, mind you, but the heat is definitely turned to high). So when I'm promoting Epitaph and someone buys Cookie Therapy, It makes me stop to think. Maybe there's something to that half-naked fireman. As uncomfortable as I was about taking that step, that shirtless man has gotten a lot of attention.

Which brings me back to that oft-repeated question. Clearly, my readers know what they're going to get when they see a hot guy on the cover of my novels (which was the point, after all). Would Cookie Therapy have gotten the same attention if the cover was more sedate? And then I think of my favorite romance author who puts sweet covers on her steamy romances. Couples walking hand in hand on the beach, heroes holding puppies... Hey, she does okay. Best seller list, Movie deal in the works. Do I need that gratuitous picture to get your attention?

What do you think?

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