Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HOT Books Cooled by COLD Covers by Margo Hoornstra

It's been established by others on this blog that book covers do make a difference in book sales. Bare chested heroes, heroines in fishnet stockings and flirty skirts. All arranged in provocative poses. Like it or not, sex sells, and these eye catching covers will entice a prospective reader to check out what's inside. Maybe even purchase the book.

What happens, though, when a book cover is so tame the expectation is the story inside could be anything but a hot and satisfying romance?

Although pleasant to look at, what storylines does this cover evoke?


These are some I think of:

A children's book about furry creatures cavorting in the forest at Christmas.

A travel log about a road trip in some beautiful winter wonderland.

A young adult novel about a high school somewhere in the frozen north.

A day by day diary about a religious retreat.

Actually, none of the above tell the whole, well, story.

Here's what's on the back cover of Glad Tidings.

His twenty-fifth high school reunion leaves hard-driving hospital CEO Jake Holbrook feeling he’s missing something in life. So when a special woman from his past tumbles back into his life—and his bed—Jake is determined to keep her, even if it means recruiting her to work for him. Family practice physician Bethany Thomas knows it’s a bad idea to sleep with her late husband’s best friend—even if he is the only man she’s ever loved. Recently widowed after twenty years of marriage to the wrong man and haunted by guilt over his death, Bethany isn’t looking for an entanglement.  Especially not with her future boss.
Working together makes Jake and Bethany confront their clashing philosophies to patient care, and as the holidays approach, Bethany unknowingly betrays Jake. Now Jake’s job is on the line—can they overcome their lack of trust to find their own holiday miracle?

This is how Glad Tidings begins.

          "I love you, Bethy. Always have. Always will."
             Bethany Thomas heard those cherished words from the only man she ever loved and felt her heart soar.
          Lying beside him in the comfort of a darkened hotel room, she wanted only to put the crushing guilt and misery of the past few days behind her. To return to that place in her life where nothing mattered except that she and Jake were together.
          Still damp from their lovemaking, his solid form moved closer. Strong arms reached out to circle her waist. "It feels so good to hold you, Bethy."
          It feels so good to be held.
          Her hands trailed along the firm ridges of his chest, slid over broad shoulders, and clasped around his neck. Heat from his body poured over hers as wide palms came together at the small of her back then lowered to spread across sensitive flesh. Warm lips maintained a slow and sensuous pressure until he released their kiss and simply held her close.
          How long had it been since she'd known lovemaking this complete?
          Forever, she decided as a contented smile creased her mouth and she rested her cheek against the refuge of his chest. Being with Jake, she felt whole, protected. All was right with the world.
          "So good to hold you," he whispered again.
          Hearing his voice, remnants of--until now--a non-existent conscience rose up to grab onto the reasonable side of her mind. She swallowed to moisten a suddenly dry throat after the question she could no longer deny reared its ugly head.
          What kind of woman buries her husband in the afternoon and sleeps with his best friend that night?

Brutal honesty here, though most reviews are favorable, Glad Tidings has not exactly been a block buster in the marketplace.

What do you think. Did the cover cause those looking for a hot story give Glad Tidings the cold shoulder?


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30 comments:

Kristen Brockmeyer said...

Timely article for me - I'm trying to design a cover that doesn't look like I designed it, and it's hard work! It's practically giving me nightmares. I do kind of agree with you on the cover for this one - you made me think of Narnia with your description. lol I did read recently that the cover of a book accounts for less of our decision to buy than the back copy does, but I don't know what the answer is. Based on your blurb and excerpt, I would buy it!

RT Wolfe said...

Lovely post. Thank you!
-R.T. Wolfe

Rohn Federbush said...

I'm up and moving and although blogs usually don't hook me your tag line did. Guilty for all those I missed or speed read without commenting, I read each word of your thoughtful post.

Florence Price is doing a great job showing my characters on my historical romances. I chose the mystery cover, mostly because I love the old castle and wanted to brag about placing part of a mystery in it. I don't find anything of mine is selling which might be why I couldn't find a real publisher.

Nevertheless I'm glad they are out there, leaving me with a less constipated feeling and with ten more to publish while I'm working on "Forevermore."

Husband yelling must join him for breakfast. Hear the weather promises six inches. I hate broken promises but I could live without six more inches of dandruff.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks, Kristen. You're right about Narnia. I hadn't thought about that. And, it's not to say this isn't a beautiful cover in its own right. It's just, not representative of the book. Covers are hard to create, I admire those who can.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Nice to 'see' you, R.T. Thanks for stopping.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Rohn. Always a struggle, isn't it? Best of luck.

Diana Layne said...

Book covers are so nerve wracking! I'm one who doesn't like bare-chested guys but I do know those covers tend to do well. Thanks for your points.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks, Diana. You're right about nerve wracking, but what can you do?

Connie Bretes said...

I agree with you Margo, that the book cover - sex, sells. If I find an attractive man and woman on the front cover, you can bet I'll look at the back cover to see what it is about.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I so understand your predicament and frustration. After several published books, I THINK my next cover will help my book instead of hinder it. This time, I was able to work directly with the artist and have hot people on the cover. It's only happened once before for me and that cover has helped sell the story. If only publishers were always concerned with the cover!

Jannine Gallant said...

"Furry creatures cavorting in the forest." I about spit my coffee. Thanks, people, I'll be thinking about Narnia all day! You're right. The cover is beautiful but I'm not so sure it would make someone read the blurb. Hence, my new fascination with bare-chested cowboys. When I'm rich and famous and everyone on the planet has my new books on auto buy, I'll have "pretty" covers on my books. Until then, I'm going to try to attract attention with handsome, sexy heroes!

Annette said...

Oh Margo, your back cover blurb, etc. really got me interested. The lovely cover, not so much. Now I want this book.

All the best, Annette

Melissa Keir said...

I like that you have the idea of a holiday tale, and the title shows that... But I agree that there should be a couple on the cover. It does spark more of an interest than just the winter scene.

Liz Flaherty said...

I'm so surprised at all I'm reading about covers. It's a good thing I'm not left to choosing my own! I love your snowy cover. I never want people, much less half-naked ones. I'm a blurb-buyer anyway, but hot covers are such a turnoff to me. Sigh.

Glenys said...

I liked this cover, Margo - the sort of book I'd buy at Christmas, bringing out my sentimental side, so I'd better have read that great blurb first so I wouldn't be expecting anything more than innocent little kisses under the mistletoe :-) Love the story idea, hope the sales take off.
As for bare chested men - well, who doesn't like them? But they're kind of like chocolate - you gorge yourself and then start looking for lighter on the palate.....!

SusanJPOwens said...

Hi Margo,

Excellent topic! I'm with you, a book cover can grab the reader's eye, sex does sell, and the blurb markets the story. I'd buy your book based on the fantastic blurb. The cover created a sugar and spice and everything nice concept to me. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that, I've been reading the series :)

Margo Hoornstra said...

Jannine. About spit your coffee, is that akin with making you speechless? Go me! When you're rich and famous, then can we go to England?

Margo Hoornstra said...

Connie. Yes, the way of the world. We are a visual species.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Brenda, My latest release has the bare chested tuxedo clad hero. I was fortunate to be able to pick out the picture and my publisher used it. Made me proud!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Annette. Thank you. You always seem to find a way to make my day.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Melissa. I actually requested a couple on this one. However......

Margo Hoornstra said...

Liz. I know what you mean. Some 'sexy' covers I've seen make me cringe. The back cover copy is a very good way to sell a book.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Glenys, Absolutely true about too much of a good thing. I agree, it is a beautiful cover, and thank you. However, it can be deceiving.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Susan. My point exactly. I hate to disappoint a reader who's thinking sugar and spice. However, that being said, Glad Tidings is pretty tame compared to many stories out there.

Leah St. James said...

Margo, too funny! I have to admit, I went with the YA novel about a high school in the frozen north. :-) It really depresses me that we have to have a half-naked guy on the cover to get people to buy a book! I mean, I like half-naked men as much as anyone else, but those aren't the books I normally look to buy (and never were). And yeah, the blurb is great.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Leah. I agree with you about the half naked men, on both counts. Maybe one day, as it always does, the pendulum will swing the other way and we'll be back to landscapes and silhouettes. Or not!

Alicia Dean said...

I suppose I'm coming to believe that sexy covers sell books, but they are not what attract me. I like a good story, whether it's hot or not, but I find that the sexy people on covers all start to look the same to me. :) I'm never sure what is a marketable cover, but I have been pleased with all my covers. (Fortunate, I know, although some I self published) I like for them to be representative of my story, the mood or setting if nothing else. Fabulous blurb and excerpt. I will always read those before I discard something due to the cover. Although, the cover is the first thing readers see, so you do have to grab their attention in the first place. :) Thanks for the enjoyable post!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Alicia, You're right. They do all start to look the same, don't they? Guess it has a lot to do with the eye of the beholder and all that. I'm pleased you liked my blurb and excerpt, and enjoyed the post.

Diane Burton said...

Margo, you are so right about blah covers. I did like this one, though. It evoked winter holidays...until I saw what looks like the tassel from a graduation cap. Great excerpt! Sure doesn't match the cover.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Diane. Covers do make a difference, don't they? Love yours for One Red Shoe. Glad you liked the excerpt.