Can covers really affect the sales of books?

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Never, Never, Never Give Up

It had to be the worst book cover I’d ever seen.

A young, lovely, curvy woman, getting her boobs cupped from a guy who stood behind her as he nuzzled her neck. Her jeans were barely above her see-you-next-Tuesday line and her come hither smirk told anyone looking at the cover that there would be sex a-plenty in this story.
The problem with that, there was hardly any sex in this story, but how would I know that? Because the story was mine.
When I first wrote Worth the Weight, I knew I’d written the best contemporary romance in the history of the romance genre and the best romance deserved a fantastic cover, right?
I looked at the screen again, seeing the woman, the man, and the cupping and I couldn’t do anything but sob.
This isn’t my story.
I called everyone I could think of to ask their advice. One of them was none other than my critique partner, Desiree Holt.
“What am I going to do?” I cried. “It sucks. It totally sucks.”
“Yep, it does,” she answered. “So what do you want to do?”

I didn’t know. I had no idea what to do. I wanted my story in print so badly and yet, I just knew if I let this cover on my baby, it would fail miserably.
Desiree added, “If you want to get published, you’re going to have to have some crappy covers. I know this sucks, but you can accept the cover or pull your book.”

Sucky and suckier—great choices.
I tried to talk to my editor, tell her how the book didn’t match the cover. Her response? “We know what we’re doing. The cover stays.”

After a bottle of wine and a box of Kleenex later, I thought I would suck it up and keep the cover. Ironically, rumors of the publisher filing bankruptcy started circling over the loops and again I asked Desiree for help. “Pull your book,” she told me.
So I did and for years, my book sat there.
The economy tanked and publishers weren’t taking chances on new writers as much as they were before.
I looked over the book again, revised it, and revised it again. I entered it in a few contests and it won one. The agent requested the full manuscript, but never even acknowledged she received the file. Again, a dead end.

Is this book ever going to be sold? Am I just a glutton for punishment? Am I simply nuts to be a writer, especially in a down economy?

About the time I started thinking I should just throw in the towel, walk away, I attended one of my writer’s group meetings. Again, a wonderful friend, Desiree, handed me a refrigerator magnet with Never, Never, Never give up—Winston Churchill on it.
It’s what I needed to keep pushing myself forward. I worked on other stories, kept submitting to critique groups, and continued to push forward.

By this time, I’d revised Worth the Weight and pitched it to a new publisher. Within six weeks, I’d sold it to Soulmate Publishing.
Now, being in the second round of edits, I get my book cover and it’s lovely.
Although it’s been a long journey, it seems my momentum hasn’t wained. My editor wants the next two books as well as another series I wrote while waiting for my first baby to be sold.
Everyday, I see that refrigerator magnet and know no matter how hard things get, no matter how frustrated I feel or how badly book covers might suck, good things do happen for those who weight…I mean wait.
Worth the Weight will be released November 14th, 2012 from Soulmate Publishing.

WITH A BRAND NEW COVER, OF COURSE!

 Excerpt:


        

Chapter One

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem—Eric Hoffer
 January 2nd—Saturday
Ever end up in a bathroom stall, in the men’s room, wearing your wedding dress on your wedding day?

“Are you okay in there?” A low voice echoed off the white tiles that decorated the room from floor to ceiling.

I could taste the salt from my tears, as I tried to answer without sobbing … again. “Si.” I followed it with a quick, “Yes, I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Um, because you’re in the men’s room.”

“I know.”

He cleared his throat. “You’re in drag … that’s cool.”

“Nope, just a bad day.” I lied through sobs.

My sticky hands still bore the result of a quick get–away. When I grabbed my steering wheel during my escape, I discovered it covered with Vaseline. It certainly made gripping the wheel frustrating. With nothing to wipe my hands on, I’d turned into the first place I found.

A full service car wash.

After deciding on the quick wash, I’d handed over the keys to the attendant and made a beeline to the bathroom, but didn’t bother looking at the sign. It wasn’t until I’d locked myself in the stall, the urinals registered. But before I could leave, I’d heard a cough.

“You sure you’re okay?”

I tried to clean my palms with toilet paper, but the one–ply shredded in my hands. “Dammit. I’m fine. Just peachy.”

“Okay.” The sound of running water helped end the conversation and gave me a minute to collect my thoughts, remembering what transpired not half an hour earlier.

There I was, back in the church, the scene of my disaster.

“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?” the man in the starched collar asked.

I answered.

The sparkle in my fiancé’s eyes faded before it dawned on me that something had gone very wrong. He stared at me.

“Did you say no?”

I blinked a few times. “What?”

Glancing sideways through my veil, I saw the pastor biting his lip.

“Did you ask me something?”

“Yes. I. Did.” His enunciation of each word, with staccato precision, made my brothers snicker.

Images of the drunk sister in Sixteen Candleswent through my mind as he continued. “Do you.” He pointed to me. “Megan Antonia Sayla, take this man.” He looked at, “Travis Michael Joseph Daniel Carter, to be—“

Travis’ mother cleared her throat. “The fourth.”

“Right.” The minister looked up, mumbled something, then returned to the service. “Travis Michael Joseph Daniel Carter. The fourth.” He smiled in her direction. “To be your lawfully wedded husband?”

I could feel the corners of my mouth lift as I took a deep breath, gazed into Travis’ eyes, and replied, “No.”

Yeah, I heard it that time. “Crap.”

Travis dropped my hands.

“What?” Mom screamed.

“Holy shit.” Dad stood up.

“I toll you, this not work. He not Italian.” My Italian grandmother, Nonna, crossed herself and started saying Hail Mary’s in her native tongue, as her husband, Nonno, woke momentarily, then fell back to sleep.

“Mama. Zitto, per favore.” Turning to his mother, my dad placed his hands on her shoulders and eased her back into the pew. “Be quiet.”

Mom’s Danish parents, we affectionately call her Bedste and him Morfar, began to speak to each other in their birth language, saying things like “What the hell just happened here?, Should we call the caterer?”, and “Can you freeze all that rice pudding?”

With all the sudden chaos, I don’t remember much until I ended up in this car wash bathroom talking to a total stranger. I shivered as a gust of frigid, January air whipped through the room. Looking up, I noticed a row of open windows.

The water stopped running and the automatic paper towel dispenser hummed.

“How do I get out of this?” I rubbed my arms with my hands in an attempt to get warm. “Now what do I do?”

A low, masculine chuckle brought me back to reality. “Probably need to get out of the men’s room, first.”

I leaned against the cold, tiled wall and deeply inhaled the cool, lemon–scented air. “Did you ever have one of those days you wish you could start over?”

Silence.

“Are you talking on the phone or to me?”

“You.” Don’t ask what possessed me to talk to a stranger. Being in that stall, I blurted out, “I feel like I’m at confession, so just go with me on this.”

He laughed this time, his rich voice resonating. “That’s a first.”

“What?”

“For me to be referred to as a priest.”

“Seems like a day of firsts. This is the first time I left a man at the altar. The first time I’ve been in the men’s room.”

“Busy day for both of us, especially me, now being a priest and all.”

Silence filled the room, again. When he said nothing else, I assumed he’d decided to leave, until I heard, “What’s troubling you, my child?”

“Seriously?” Did he really want to know? Why? Was he really a priest?

“Sure, unless you’re not Catholic. Then you’re better off going to therapy or drinking.”

I crossed myself. “Forgive me Father, it’s been six months since my last confession.”

“Is that a long time?”

“If you were a man of the cloth, you’d know that’s a horribly long time.”

“Touché.”

I suppressed a giggle. “It can be. Most people go weekly. Daily.”

“Geez, who has time for that much guilt?”

“Apparently, Catholics.”

“I guess I only know happy, guilt–free Catholics.”

“No Catholic is guilt–free. Guilt is part of the tradition.” And I felt plenty guilty today. I twisted the beading of my wedding dress between my fingers.

“You’re Catholic?” he asked.

“More like a Cathalutheran.”

He chuckled. “What’s that?”

“Catholic dad, Lutheran mom. We combined the two to get the best of both worlds.”

“Best of both worlds? Sounds very Hannah Montana–ish.” He cleared his throat. “My niece watches the show.”

“Right. During religious holidays, we have all the traditional food, but we pretend to ignore the sin of gluttony and gossip.” I bit my lip as my heart pounded in my ears. “Hence my six month absence from confession.”

“Right. I’m supposed to say something like ‘Six months? How many sins could you have committed in six months? Come back when,’ um … what does he say again?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Trying to remember how they did it in Zorro.”

My heart skipped a beat. “Which one? The one with Tyrone Powers or with Antonio Banderas?”

“Aren’t they the same? Girl in a box. Guy isn’t a priest. He’s making it up as he goes.”

“Yeah.”. Rarely had I met anyone who knew of the first talking Zorro movie, much less the confession scene. I smoothed down my dress. “Do you need help with the movie line? I’m pretty good at them.”

“No, wait. Next, he asked her if she’d broken any of the Ten Commandments.”

“Something like that.” The corners of my mouth rose. “Forgive me Father, I have broken the fourth commandment.”

“You killed someone?” His accent changed to the melodious sound of the Spanish actor.

“That is not the fourth commandment, Father.”

“Oh, okay. Tell me in what way you broke the most sacred of God’s commandments?”

My parents’ faces flashed across my mind, my brothers, my family. A sob rose in my throat. “I dishonored my mother and father today.”

“That’s not so bad. Maybe they deserved it.”

“What?” I shook my head as I placed my hands over my mouth in an attempt to keep from losing it, again, but tears ran down my cheeks. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Tell me more, my child.”

“I … I don’t know what to say.” I depleted a roll of toilet paper as I tried to dry my face. After a few moments, I realized he’d been silent for a while. “You still there?”

“Yes. This is when he sees her through the screen, isn’t it?”

“Yeah?”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t think you want me looking between the stall doors.”

His chivalry surprised me. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.”

“It’s at the end of the scene before the captain of the guards shows up and screws it up.”

“Yeah, he’s a good bad guy.”

I took a deep breath as I tried to think. He may not want to look through the doors, but I’m generally nosy. No matter what this guy looked like, I was too curious to walk away without seeing his face. Kindness from a stranger had been an unexpected gift in my chaotic day. I needed to put a face with the voice.





2 comments to “Can covers really affect the sales of books?”

  1. flchen1
    Comment
    1
      · November 13th, 2012 at 5:41 pm · Link

    While I don’t think a cover is the only factor, it definitely can influence buyers and readers–congrats on a second chance for Worth the Weight–it sounds like a terrific story, and I can’t wait to read it (and see its new cover! ;))



  2. Kiersi
    Comment
    2
      · November 15th, 2012 at 8:34 pm · Link

    Not to mention the drop shadow behind the title, haha. Wow. That is my nightmare–to get the cover from the publisher, want to cry, and have the publisher say “Welp, that’s what you get.”

    Good on you for sticking to your guns and pulling the book. Loved the excerpt. Congrats.

    But man, why does he have to be grabbing her boob so much?