JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER

Book covers must be important, right? If they were not, publishers would merely wrap brown paper around the book and write the title and the author’s name on it. Book covers are meant to attract buyers and readers. But of course lots of people–publishers, authors, and readers–have their own ideas on what will best do that and what the attraction ought to be. What should the cover of a romance suggest, for example? That the book is sexy? That it is a heart-melting romance? That it is a deeply passionate love story that may appeal to a broader audience than just committed romance readers? The answers to these questions and others can lead to vastly different covers. And who knows which approach will sell more copies and attract more new readers?

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Consider these three covers of THE PROPOSAL (out in paperback this week of May 28). These are the hardback cover, the British cover, and the mass market cover. It is hard to believe that they can be one and the same book, isn’t it? They represent different visions of what the story may have to offer readers. Which would be more likely to make you pick up the book if you had never heard of me? There is no correct answer, by the way!


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I admit that occasionally I choose a book because I am attracted to the cover. I will even admit to rejecting a few books because I dislike the cover, even though I ought to know better–we all know that a cover is not always a good representation of the story within, and it is the one aspect of the book over which the author has least control. However, in the vast majority of cases, my choice of a book has nothing whatsoever to do with the cover. I buy it because I like the author or because I have heard good things about it. The cover is merely the icing on the cake–and I don’t always like icing. It is the cake that matters.

How important is a cover to you? What is likely to attract you? Or repel you? Which of the three PROPOSAL covers do you like best?

To one person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, June 4, I will send another advance copy of THE ARRANGEMENT. Last week’s winner was Sue Harrison. And thank you for all the wonderful comments on the Cinderella theme. I assure you I read them all.

 

The Eternal Appeal of Cinderella

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We all love a Cinderella heroine, one who goes from rags to riches in the course of a story via the love of the Prince Charming hero. Adult readers, of course, demand more of both hero and heroine than those eternal figures in the fairytale. And modern readers demand more again than was looked for thirty or forty years ago. We want a heroine we can admire as well as envy, one who may not have much to give in terms of material goods but who has every bit as much to offer the relationship as the hero does. And we demand more of the hero than that he be tall, dark, and handsome–and rich (though those things certainly help!). We expect a couple who can grow through conflict, both internal and external, to a point at which they can give and receive a love that is likely to last through all the turmoils life may throw their way in the future. We expect maturity and strength of character and sensitivity and a whole lot of other attractive qualities.

But we will probably always adore Cinderella and Prince Charming.

Sophia Fry, the heroine of THE ARRANGEMENT, Book 2 of The Survivors’ Club series, is very much a Cinderella figure at the start of the book, and she faces total destitution after being thrown out of her apology for a home when she is foolish enough to save Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, from the matchmaking schemes of her aunt, uncle, and cousin. Vincent, of course, comes to her rescue, though he is a Prince Charming with a difference–he was blinded in the Napoleonic Wars at the age of 17. The fairytale does not end with the wedding in this Regency-set version–it only begins there.

I have a few advance copies of this book, and will be giving one away to someone who posts a reply to this blog piece before the end of next Tuesday, May 28. The book will be published at the end of August. You can read more about it on my Home Page. And the winner of THE PROPOSAL from last week’s blog is Noelle (last name not available yet). Thank you all for the very interesting comments.

The Allure of the Wounded Hero

I recently wrote a blog piece about tortured heroes and was asked to name some of my favorites from books other than my own. I chose Mr. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE, Christian, Duke of Jervaulx from Laura Kinsale’s FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, Darius Lindsay from Grace Burrowes’s DARIUS, Reggie Davenport from Mary Jo Putney’s THE RAKE, Lord Ian Mackenzie from Jennifer Ashley’s THE MADNESS OF IAN MACKENZIE, and Holden Caulfield from THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.

I have created a number of wounded heroes (and a few heroines too) in my own books. Indeed the blog was written as a lead-in to the paperback publication of the first two books in my new seven-part series, The Survivors’ Club series, about six men and one woman who were variously wounded in the Napoleonic Wars and spent three years together on an estate in Cornwall recovering and rehabilitating so that they could continue with their lives. Why write so often about men and women who are wounded in body and/or tortured in spirit–especially in books that are love stories?

To a certain degree woundedness and brokenness of spirit are common to the human experience. We are all uplifted when we witness other people (or even ourselves) enduring the pain and rising above it, conquering it, bringing themselves to healing and wholeness, finding themselves capable of acts of kindness and heroism and love, not despite their suffering, but because of it. Think of real life people such as Helen Keller, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and all the heroes and heroines, often nameless, whom we see selflessly giving of themselves in the midst of great calamities and tragedies.
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Such people are irresistible as the main characters of love stories, for love can help them find healing and peace, and healing and wholeness enable them to trust the love that is offered them and to give love in return. Great love stories are about more than just romance and sexual chemistry and happily-ever-after. They are about two people who are whole enough in themselves to take the great risk of loving their way through life, regardless of what the future may have in store for them.

What are your thoughts on the subject? And who are some of your favorite wounded fictional heroes? I will give away a paperback copy of THE PROPOSAL (the outer and inner, stepback covers are shown above) to one randomly chosen commentator on this post before the end of next Tuesday, May 21.

Backlist Question

Here is a question for you: I am currently–and finally–making plans to get my backlist out there on sale again, even if only in e-book format. It is a wealth of riches, at least 40 out-of-print books to which I hold the rights. But–which titles should I put back out there first?
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Are there any particular books you would like to get your hands on? Help me make the decision, if you will. A MASKED DECEPTION was my first book, published in 1985, and the cover is still one of my favorites.

Coming Soon

There are a few other books scheduled after these four featured on Home Page: A Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake, The Proposal, The Suitor, and The Arrangement.

In October and/or November, look for two republications of Christmas books. A Christmas Promise will be out again, the story of an impoverished nobleman who agrees to marry the daughter of a dying and enormously wealthy coal merchant. It is a marriage that begins with scorn and even hatred on both sides before it develops into something quite different over the Continue reading