Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On judging a book by its cover

I’m fascinated by the artistic process that goes into creating a cover for one of my books. I’m also fascinated by the thought of driving a bulldozer.

I'm pretty sure the two things are linked, since art and heavy equipment operation are two skills I lack but desperately wish I had. Since this is my author blog, I should probably focus on the book covers instead of the bulldozers (though I don’t rule out the possibility of a career change if the writing gig ever goes tits-up).

I’ve been thinking about book covers a lot lately, since Montlake Romance just unveiled the cover for my September 2016 release, Now That It’s You. Here's a look:

It's my third book with this publisher, on the heels of About That Fling and Let It Breathe. If you've read one of those titles and also read any of my other books, you've probably noticed something odd. Well, more odd than scenes about protracted lizard penises and storylines about ancient stone dildos.

While all my books fall under the heading of "romantic comedy," the books I write for Montlake tend to be meatier (and not in a pork sword/man meat/baloney pony kinda way). They deal with heavier topics like divorce, alcoholism, infidelity, and death. There's laughter and romance to be sure, but most readers report shedding a tear or two along the way. One of my favorite reviews for About That Fling came from Publisher's Weekly, and it included the line, "heartache and humor go hand in hand." Yep. That's pretty much it.

When Montlake was deciding on a cover for Now That It’s You, there was a lot of discussion about whether the book should be categorized as "romance" or "women's fiction." It kinda straddles the line between the two, which sounds like a recipe for an uncomfortable wedgie. In the end, they decided it tilts more toward women's fiction (the book club discussion questions in the back kinda solidify that). That's a big part of how I ended up with the cool (but decidedly different) cover you see above.

But now let's look at the other end of the spectrum.

The books I write for Engangled Publishing are fun, fluffy, frothy, and filthy. I totally just made that up on the spot, but I like the way it flows, so maybe I'll print it on business cards.

The covers of my Entangled books reflect a different sort of romantic comedy. You'll see lots of shirtless men and steamy clenches between two toe-curlingly sexy people. Looking at one of them may or may not inspire you to take off articles of clothing and hunt through your nightstand for extra AA batteries.

When The Fix Up released in December 2015, this is the cover they gave it:

I thought it was pretty awesome, and I still do. But this week -- five months after the original release date -- Entangled Publishing is doing a huge promotional push to see if we can make that book hit a bestseller list.

Crap, I wasn't going to put that in writing because maybe now I've jinxed the whole thing. Pretend you didn't read that, okay?

In any case, they decided the book needed a fresh new cover. Their data shows covers that look more like movie posters are currently selling like hotcakes, and hotcakes are almost as delicious as beefcakes, right? So here's the new cover they came up with:

And that's pretty groovy, too, isn't it? I honestly can't decide which I like best, so maybe I'll tattoo one on each butt cheek. Which one do you prefer? The covers, not my butt cheeks. Obviously my right butt cheek is superior to my left.

Anyway, here's where I'm obligated to tell you that The Fix Up is on sale through May 22 for only 99-cents. This is a great time to grab it, since it's the first book in my First Impressions series. The second book, The Hang Up, is coming out June 13. Wanna see the cover for that one?

Pretty, huh? Also, I really want that dress.

So what sort of book covers attract you most? Are you a greased-abs-and-heaving-bosoms sorta reader, or do you prefer a more stylized look? Please share in the comments!

And please buy The Fix Up while it's on sale. Pretty please with honey and sugar and pork swords on top? Thank you!