Follow by Email

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Judging a book by its cover

Winter is my writing time.

When the bed and breakfast business slows and the cold sets in, Chris and I go away to California to relax and rejuvenate our bodies and minds. And, away from the siren call of house projects like painting rooms or planning garden additions, I try to reconnect with my writer spirit and channel my muse through my computer keyboard.

This winter I have been finalizing Choice. Unlike my previous fiction, the suspense novels Blood Exposure and Net Stalker, Choice is women's fiction. As I was doing the final edit from Southern California, where much of the book is set (and relishing NOT being in the midst of the horrific winter the East Coast had this year!), I found it easy to slip back into the arms of the characters once more. From the "flyleaf:"

Jody Carpenter loved and admired artist Keith Ackerman and believed their personal and creative synergy was evidence they were meant to be together. But after months of assuming their sexual impasse was due to his fear of commitment, Jody challenged Keith to prove he loved her. The fallout was immediate and enormous: Forced to acknowledge he was gay, Keith ran. And Jody found she was pregnant.

Humiliated over her failure to recognize Keith’s homosexuality, Jody nevertheless decides to keep the baby. During her pregnancy, she meets Keith’s antithesis in Alex Maclean, who wants to marry her and adopt her daughter Kendall. When Keith learns he has fathered a child and insists upon being involved in Kendall’s life, Jody, Keith and Alex come to an agreement: Alex will legally adopt Kendall while Keith continues as her “godfather,” but when she turns twenty-one, the three of them will tell her the truth of her parentage.

No one expected Keith to die a year shy of that milestone birthday.

Keith’s death throws Jody into a tailspin of long-buried emotions. Forced to reevaluate her past in order to determine which path her future will take, she wavers over the biggest question: Need she tell Kendall the truth now?  The consequences of her hesitation are swift and agonizing. In the wake of her choices past and present, Jody faces an ultimatum: Unless she can extract herself from Keith’s shadow and expunge her culpability, the price of her self-doubt may be the loss of all she loves best. 

AH, but winter sabbatical is over and we are back at work. This week, however, the B&B is quiet and so I have targeted a number of book-related tasks to accomplish. By next week, we'll have guests in every day, and the oportunity to carve out a chunk of time to dive into writing or promotion will be gone. If I want to get Choice published this year, I need to have it finished in the next two weeks.

Credit: Ronnie Nijmeh,
So while I corrected copy and created front and back matter, I emailed my cover designer with concepts and ideas. A shout out to cover artist Todd Hebertson, who has created the covers of all three of my books and works so fast it astounds me. Here in the age of the Internet, all communication and designs are exchanged via email. Todd is responsive and creative and always willing to make changes and adjustments, big or small. We went through about a dozen drafts before deciding on the one at the top of the page. 

Book covers matter. As any author can attest, you want to be proud of your book cover, and you want it to attract attention for all the right reasons. When my first book, A Butler's Life, came out in hardcover, it had the most dreadful cover and I hated it. (See it here.) We changed it when it went to paperback (check it out here) and I will always be glad. It is so much more descriptive of Chris's life as a butler than the esoteric, black and white hardcover design, which looks like it could have been a photo of the dressing table of crusty Mr. Carson of Downton Abbey. As research shows, readers really DO judge a book by its cover.

So, what do YOU think? Would the cover design and cover copy for Choice intrigue you enough to buy the book? 

Many thanks in advance for the input and support!