Friday, November 17, 2006

Don’t judge a book by its cover…yeah, right!

Which intellectual genius came up with that saying? Clearly, he or she did not take into account romance readers.

In my opinion, book covers rank at the top of the “most important selling tools” list. It’s what pulls people to your book on the shelf.

People use a book cover as an indicator of what the book is about. A picture of a murky lake, with a full moon high above? That’s probably a creepy horror novel. A running couple being chased by headlights? I’ll bet that’s a romantic suspense.

When I sold Deliver Me, there were a number of different ideas for the cover floating through my head. The main characters are doctors, so I thought about a medical theme. I envisioned a cartoon-type cover, with two people in white coats embracing, or maybe two hands meeting over a stethoscope with a heart. Okay, so the stethoscope with the heart is cheesier than the lasagna I ate last night, but you get the picture. I thought I would get something light and fun. What I did not expect, was a model with this dark, dramatic look. To say I was unhappy is understatement, size XXL.

What many people outside of publishing don’t realize is that authors, especially tiny little tadpoles like me, have no say in what cover goes on their works of art. Actually, even some of the bigger fish have no input. So, if you’re unhappy with the cover, you basically just have to deal with it.

Then, sometimes, you’re lucky and the editors at your publishing house actually take the time to explain why they chose said cover. They make you realize that even though your book is a pretty light-hearted romance, there are some not-so-light themes. For instance, Deliver Me is set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and while it does not harp on the storm’s devastation, but, in fact, show’s the city in its current recovery stages, it’s still not all sunshine and roses. Additionally, the book features a character who suffers from a serious mental health condition. Fascinating, but not necessarily humorous. As I re-read the book (for the 50th time), I understood why a cartoon cover would have been a bit misleading, and why that provocative look works. I guess those darn people in the art department really do know what they’re doing.

So, go ahead, judge a book by its cover if you want to. There’s a lot that goes into them.