Saturday, October 24, 2015


When I first published six years ago, I cared about my cover, but didn't see the need for a typical romance cover. What's typical? Most often a cover involving intriguing people or an attractive couple. Gorgeous or dramatic scenery is also coveted. Romance readers like a setting they can get lost in. But I had never purchased a book based on a cover. So if I had never done that, why would anyone else?

My publisher asked for some guidance on the cover like what elements did I think were important. The book's title is Sleeping with the Lights On. I named a lamp, a black cowboy hat and a spilled bottle of wine. When I got the cover, I nearly cried. It wasn't the exciting cover I pictured and suddenly the cover was important to me.

I've vended at numerous book events over the years, and I can see the importance of a cover. That cover isn't awful, but it certainly does not attract the attention that some of my other covers do. After my experience last weekend, I asked my publisher if I could have a new cover. Here's why:

New cover and new title
I published another book several years ago with another publisher. The cover was "okay" and I sold a few books but mostly to friends and relatives. I've always loved the story, and decided to ask for my rights back which the publisher was gracious enough to give me. The book was edited again, but no major changes to the story. The new title is Post-War Dreams. The cover is totally different, and I was ecstatic with it. I took the first copies to a book event last weekend. We were rained out and had a poor turnout. BUT after not selling a copy of the prior edition in two years, I sold three copies with the new cover.

That convinced me!

Old cover waiting for an update
Now, I am awaiting a new cover for Sleeping with the Lights On. I can't wait to see if a new cover breathes life into what I consider a very entertaining read.

Sleeping With the Lights On 
After two failed marriages and countless relationships, Sandra Holiday thinks she’s met the man to end her years of less than perfect choices; choices that not only derailed her travel-related career plans but also left her single and broke. 

Carson Holiday, a Las Vegas country crooner with swoon-inducing good looks, spent his adult life pursuing a recording contract and love, never holding on to either. After eighteen years, he drops back into Sandra’s life, reigniting an attraction he can’t deny.

When Carson reappears, Sandra must choose again.  Only this time, nothing’s as it seems.  A secret admirer, a redheaded stalker, and an eccentric millionaire throw her on a dangerous path, with Carson her only truth.

As life confronts her with yet another turning point, will her decisions find her eternally sleeping with the lights on – or will she finally discover a way to turn them off?


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I was against having naked male chests on my book covers. I wanted flowers or unique looking houses or something eye-catching. Those were they types of covers that drew my attention. Few sales. What do I have now on all my books? Naked male chests. Reviewers often mention them first thing in a review, where I'd never think to do so. We spend forever on a book, or so it seems. I laid awake last night worrying about the last scene I'd written. Was it powerful enough. And what will potential readers notice first? The tanned, toned, ripped, tattooed body of some dude. Covers are more important than we think.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Oh so true, Vonnie. I just didn't want to get caught up in the sexy cover thing, but I was a novice. I guess we have to go with it so they'll open the cover and discover how entertaining our writing is!!

Jannine Gallant said...

I feel your pain. I took the rights back to my first book, did a little editing to spruce it up, gave it a new title to make it the first book in a series, and a new cover with a hot guy (no naked chest since my writing isn't going to live up to that--heat-wise) to replace the old, dark one of a tiny canoe on a lake. Sales are unbelievably better. Those covers do matter!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Good for you, Jannine. There is that fine line to make sure the cover doesn't over promise.

Alison Henderson said...

You won't get any argument from me - you know how I love covers! I adored my first cover, but the next two left me flat. One of the main appeals of self-publishing was that I'd never have a cover I didn't like again. Comments I've received on my last two books have reinforced my beliefs in the importance of a great cover. I hope your new cover for Sleeping with the Lights On knocks your (and your readers') socks off!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Bare male chests notwithstanding, people on the covers seem more popular than objects. I've had a couple of bad covers, objects instead of people on both of them. Not that a cover can necessarily make or break a book, but it does make a difference.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks, Alison. Margo, I think people help those of us in romance who are not famous. Once you have a big enough following, maybe it just doesn't matter. I could care less what Gabaldon's covers look like.

Rolynn Anderson said...

The jury's out on this one for me, especially since I'm not a graphic artist...and probably can't afford the cover artist who would read my book, consider the audience, etc., etc., and try lots of covers out on my audience, testing for the 'right' vibe. I have control over the story, so I'll angst over that and hope the covers aren't a detriment. Like Alison said, I do enjoy self-pubbing and having some control over the covers.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I don't self pub so I'm at the publisher's mercy. But I have an artist that I work with and she is great. Rae Monet is awesome to work with.

Leah St. James said...

For my first cover, like Vonnie I said "No bare-chested me, especially with hair prettier than mine!). I got a gorgeous woman's fishnet-stockinged leg on a bench at a boardwalk, and I loved it. Still do. The funny thing is, it draws men like flies at a book sale but not so much women.:-) They (the men) always asked if it's my leg and I would say, "Of course...thirty years ago." :-)

Hope you like your re-do much better, Brenda!

Leah St. James said...

Sorry, that's no bare-chested "men." Yikes! :D

Brenda Whiteside said...

I wouldn't want a bare chested me either! LOL