So it’s come around again … that age old discussion of marketing. And more specifically–marketing books.
Wait, don’t run away. I’ve got a couple of serious questions (mostly because I’m trying to make a point to an author friend who is currently working on the cover design for their first self-published work and I hate being wrong) and so I need your help.
Most readers when looking at a new author will base their buying decision on:
1) the cover
2) the book description (or back cover blurb)
and if they’re still undecided in some order …
3) first few pages
4) reader reviews
So if that’s the case, the cover needs to reflect both the genre and the tone of the story. In this ever-changing world of publishing it’s sometimes difficult to know what readers will respond to. Romance has seen its fair share of handsome men:
There are also the romance novels with scenery:
But times are a-changing. With the breakout success of the erotic romance 50 Shades of Grey readers are seeing less skin on their romance novels:
And these covers have done their job very well. All of these books draw readers in with their stunning visuals. We all have covers we love and covers we “live with” because they adorn the novels of our favorite authors. Cover designs aren’t always in the hands of an author, but rather the marketing department of a publisher. But with the advent of self-publishing, authors have much more control over the elements found on the book cover. We get to decide how we’re going to portray our story and draw romance/mystery/paranormal readers to our books.
And here’s what this whole blog is about. A friend of mine is finishing up edits for an amazing love story I’ve had the privilege of reading as it was developed. I know this story could be a HUGE seller. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you sigh as these two people find their happy-ever-after. BUT … and there is a huge BUT … my friend wants to use some original artwork on the cover. Think Picasso (due to copyright I can’t show you the pics, you’ll have to follow the link). You know, artistically depicted woman. Think lots of symbolism in the art.
And it’s a beautiful piece of art, but to me, it’s just not … a romance book cover. So I’m throwing it out to all of you … would you stop and even read the book description of a book with art on the cover? Because you know me, I’m curious about stuff like this.
*** UPDATE ***
My friend is watching this discussion carefully and doesn’t feel I’m giving the artwork its due when I compare it to Picasso (which, I admit, wasn’t a good comparison, but I searched the internet and couldn’t find a better description). So with permission from the author I offer you the actual artwork that is being considereed for this contemporary romance. The point is still, would this make you stop and pick up this book if you were looking for a great love story?
Thanks so much for letting me guest blog today!
Readers often ask me how I come up with ideas for my books, so I thought I’d give you a little behind-the-scenes peek at how I came up with my new release, a paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave called DEAD SEXY.
Before I say anything else though, isn’t that cover too hot for words?! When the art department sent it to me, I probably gazed at it for a good ten minutes in mouth-drooling appreciation before I could email them back telling the artist it not only rocked, but totally fit the book. The hero is “Dead Sexy,” after all!
Okay, back to the story and how I came up with it. First, to set the stage, I need to share a little something with you about myself. Well, about my hubby and me, actually. We love zombie movies, from the George Romero gems to Shaun of the Dead and everything in between, including “Walking Dead,” the new series on AMC. You just can’t go wrong with a movie full of walking dead people, can you? Well, if you’ve ever seen a zombie movie (or even you haven’t), then you know the creatures aren’t the heroes of the film. I mean, how can they be, right? They’re all dead and decayed and downright unattractive, not to mention pretty damn scary. Which was why you can imagine my surprise when my hubby suggested I write an erotic romance about a zombie hero. I was like, you’re kidding, right? What woman in her right mind would fall in love with a dead guy? No way could that possibly work, or so I thought.
Turns out, my hubby wasn’t kidding. In fact, he started working up ideas for the story.
“The hero didn’t have to be a zombie all the time,” he told me. “Think outside the box – take a little literary license!”
Okay, I thought. I suppose I could be open minded.
My hubby told me that in his out-of-the-box world, the hunky hero got cursed by an evil Voodoo priestess and only turns into a zombie sometimes.
“I’m listening,” I said.
“And when he does go zombie, he doesn’t have to be like the kind in the movies,” my hubby added. “Well, he has to look like one, you know all dead and stuff, but he doesn’t have to be a mindless creature or attack humans or eat anything gross.”
So, brains are completely out, thank goodness!
“Think Jensen Ackles or Jared Padelecki, with a really, really, really dark tan – (yes, my hubby knows I’ve got a thing for the Supernatural hunks!) – well, maybe more gray and black than tan, but you get the idea.”
I thought about that for a minute. “So, the hero’s dead, but he’s still sexy, is that what you’re saying?”
“Exactly,” he said, giving me a grin as my eyes lit up with understanding.
By that point, my hubby had pretty much sold me on the idea. Of course, I knew if I ran with it, I was going to have to sell it to a publisher, and I knew that could be tough since the hero is a zombie. But I ran with it anyway and ended up with a full-length novel. And it came out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself! I still had to find a publisher for it, though.
About this same time, It just so happens that several of my other books were in the process of being picked up by Ellora’s Cave and I thought what the heck? Why not pitch it to my editor there and see what she thinks? So I did, and she told me to send it to her. She was interested to see how I handled the whole zombie-thing. Well, long story, short, she liked it. A lot! My zombie romance with it’s dead-sexy hero had a home! I was thrilled and my hubby walked around for a week with a smug, “I-told-you-so” look on his face.
I’ve been getting the word out there about DEAD SEXY ever since I signed the contract for it and I’m thrilled with the interest from readers who can’t wait to get their hands on it! I can’t wait for them to read it, too!
Now that I’ve revealed the story behind the story, I thought I’d share the blurb and an excerpt just to whet your appetite for more!
Romance author Simone Kent thinks she might just have found the most perfect guy in all of New York City – in bed and out. But Drake Parrish is about as far from perfect as any man can get. Eight years ago, he was cursed by an evil Voodoo priestess to live part of his life as a zombie. Since then, he has lived like a recluse on New York’s Upper East Side, afraid to go out for fear he’ll suddenly turn into one of the walking dead.
The sex is the hottest either of them has ever experienced and Simone discovers just how naughty she can be with Drake, while he finds himself feeling things for her that he hasn’t felt in a very long time. When the Voodoo priestess learns of their relationship, however, she comes after him again. She is determined to make sure he won’t have a future with Simone, even if that means killing both him and the woman he loves.
As she led him up the steps to the second floor, Drake found himself wondering if she would ask him in. And wondering what he’d say if she did. When they came to a stop outside the door to her apartment, Simone turned to give him a smile.
“I had a great time tonight.”
She caught her bottom lip between her perfect white teeth and chewed on it thoughtfully as if unsure what she wanted to say next. It was probably an unconscious gesture, something she did whenever she was thinking, but to him, it was sexy as hell and all he could think about was kissing her.
Surely, one kiss couldn’t hurt. He desperately wanted to. He hadn’t kissed a woman in so long. It would be nice to see if he still remembered how.
Before he could stop himself, Drake tilted Simone’s face up to his and pressed his mouth to hers.
She tasted just as sweet and delicious as he thought she would. Her lips were soft and pliant under his as she kissed him back, her tongue eagerly seeking his out.
Drake groaned and slid his hand into her hair, deepening the kiss. Simone sighed into his mouth, running her hands up the front of his shirt to grasp his shoulders. The feel of her touch was like a tonic to his deprived soul and he let out another groan, deeper this time.
He ran his free hand up her side and around to her breast, cupping it through the soft material of her dress. He couldn’t stop himself and apparently, Simone didn’t want him to. She moaned and arched against him. He could feel the heat of her pussy through their clothes as she pressed up against his hard cock. Damn, she felt good.
Drake drew her bottom lip into his mouth and gently suckled on it before slowly kissing his way along the delicate curve of her jaw. Simone clutched his shoulders and tilted her head back. He eagerly trailed a path of hot kisses down her neck, then back up, his mouth finding hers again. Simone looped her arms around his neck, pulling him in even closer as their tongues met.
Down the hall, a door slammed, reminding him where they were.
Drake dragged his mouth away from hers, his breathing ragged as he tried to regain control. He had to get it together because he was about five seconds away from doing something really stupid. Like taking her to bed. “I should go.”
Her lips curved into a sexy, flirtatious smile. “Or you could stay.”
God, how he wanted to. But as much as he’d love to spend the rest of the night exploring every inch of her body, he couldn’t take the chance he might go zombie on her right in the middle of sex. Talk about coitus interruptus, And it had already been almost four days since he last turned, which meant he was already pushing his luck.
“You don’t know how much I want to,” he groaned. “But I can’t.”
Simone looked up at him with those big, blue eyes. “Why not?”
“Because I…” He hesitated, trying to come up with something that would sound believable. “I have a column due in the morning and I haven’t even started on it yet.” She knew all about deadlines, so she would understand that. Besides, he did have a column to write, it just wasn’t due until next week. “Rain check?”
She looked disappointed, but she smiled anyway. “Absolutely. How does coming over for dinner tomorrow night sound?”
It would be crazy to agree when he could be so close to having an episode, but he couldn’t say no. Not when she asked in that soft, sultry voice. “Sounds great.”
“Good. Be here at seven.”
“Seven it is.”
She pulled him down for another long, slow kiss on the mouth. “Don’t be late.”
His mouth twitched. “I won’t.” He bent his head to kiss her again, then groaned. “If I don’t go now, I’ll be here all night.”
Simone laughed. “Would that be such a bad thing?”
“Not to me, but my editor at Money Issues might not be too understanding when he doesn’t find my column sitting in his inbox tomorrow.”
She sighed. “Deadlines can be a real pain in the butt sometimes. Okay, go home and write your column. I’ll cuddle up with a bowl of ice cream instead.”
He chuckled. “Sounds better than taking a cold shower, which is what I’m going to be doing when I get home.” He closed his mouth over hers once more. “See you tomorrow night, beautiful.”
Resisting the urge to pull her into his arms again, Drake turned and walked down the hallway toward the stairwell. At the top of the steps, he glanced over his shoulder to see Simone standing where he’d left her, a sexy curve to her lips.
It took every ounce of strength he possessed not to go back and pin her against the door for one more long, lingering kiss. God, what he wouldn’t give to spend the night with her. Man, it was going to take more than a cold shower to get her out of his head.
Hope you enjoyed the excerpt and trailer and that you can’t wait to read more! You can BUY DEAD SEXY from Ellora’s Cave.
Welcome! You’ve made it to the beginning of the Liquid Silver Stocking Stuffer Give Away! All you need to do is follow Santa’s trail along nine other Liquid Silver Blogs. Including:
Leave a comment on each one at their Stocking Stuffer post and be eligible to win a stocking full of Liquid Silver ebooks! Because as you know, giving is so much better than receiving.
One year I gave my sister-in-law a really tacky gift and signed it from her sister. In the confusion of opening the gifts neither sister knew what to do when the gift was opened. The receiver thought “Umm… what do I say about this ugly thing?” and the giver thought “Why would my husband buy that for her?” Me? I was laughing my butt off. (As was my DH and the brother-in-law that I shared it with.) Really, it is a Christmas classic that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to outdo.
So share with me in my comments (which are above this post) the favorite gift you gave or received and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy of The Healer’s Garden AND a chance at the grand prize (if you visit ALL of the Liquid Silver authors) … a stocking FULL of ebooks including the first novella in the Tilling Passions series, Blind Love.
And of course I couldn’t have you showing up to my blog without a little incentive. How about some calorie-free Christmas candy to reward your efforts?