Never judge a book by its cover?

Oh, but it IS judged. So get it right!
Cindy McDonald

I love the cover of Hot Coco. I was
thrilled the way the designer, Todd Aune, placed the horses behind my name, and
then to make the details complete, he put 
Keystone on the saddle towels in the picture—you have to look close, but
it is there. Keystone Downs is the fictitious name of the racetrack where the
Unbridled Series takes place. This wasn’t the first cover, oh no, we adjusted
the design four times before we decided upon this one.

The first one had the same two characters
on the front, only she was clutching his gathered shirt in her hands, exposing
his chiseled abs, whispering in his ear, as he gazed upon her longingly,
clinging to every sultry word. Okay, at least that’s the way I interpreted the
pose. It was hot! I was enamored! My publishing manager, Lauren Carr—God bless
her—let me enjoy a full day of dancing around my living room in love with the
really hot cover for HOT COCO, until she decided it was time to reason with me.

“If that’s the cover you want, that’s fine,”
Lauren carefully began, “but I think it projects the wrong image for your
book.” She took a deep breath, “This cover will insinuate that there is sex in
the story. You don’t do sex scenes, Cindy your scenes are suggestive but not
sexual. Therefore, some readers that are looking for erotica will be
disappointed, and those readers that are not, won’t read the book because the
cover gives them the wrong idea. You will have upset two groups of people that
will never buy your books again.”

Drats! She was one hundred percent correct.
The fact of the matter is you must choose your cover very carefully. You want
to tell a story with your cover, but you don’t want to tell too much, and you
certainly don’t want to tell the wrong one.

The back of your cover is just as important
as the front. The information on the back can sell your book, or have the
potential reader return it to the shelf. Not good.

A good blurb is essential. I’m rather tickled
with the summation I’ve written for Hot Coco. It’s short, sweet, snappy,
and pretty darned clever, if you ask me—I may be a bit biased. 

Am I thrilled
with the blurb on the back of my other title, Deadly.Com? Mmmm, not so much. As a matter of fact,
I’ve had people tell me that the synopsis is totally wrong
for the book—one person told me that it gives too much away. Uh, oh, there’s
something that you really don’t want to do—give away the ending of your book.

Believe it or not some authors have done
just that. They write a very detailed synopsis that includes the ending, such
as: And in the end, Charlatan wins the race to seize back Westwood Thoroughbred
Farm’s reputation! Oh dear, why would anyone want to read the book now when the
suspense has been ruined and they know who will win the race, and that Westwood
will be exonerated? (BTW, I did not do that.)

Some authors believe that if they write a blurb that includes an uplifting ending, people will want to read the book
to see how Charlatan wins the race, and to find out why the horse farm needed
to be exonerated. I doubt it.  The reader
will most likely bypass the book and move on to another with a synopsis that
leaves them wondering how the story will end. It would be a better idea to write:
Westwood’s future depends on the mighty grey gelding, Charlatan. But can he
pull off the big win? 

Makes sense?

Confession: I keep a print of the original
cover for HOT COCO on the bulletin board in my office. Why? Well to tell you
the truth, because I really like it, and it was really hot. More importantly it
is a reminder that the right cover, conveying the right message is crucial to
good marketing.

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