Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Important Is Cover Art?

~Sia McKye~

"Despite what people say, people do judge a book by its cover" Nightline interview.

A Book cover is a marketing tool. They need to catch the eye. So I'm firmly in the camp that says, yes, what's on the cover is important.

Not all book covers completely reflect what’s in the story line. A savvy publisher is going to observe what is the current style of artwork and utilize it. They’d be stupid not to. As far as I'm concerned, a professional looking cover is vital. There is no excuse for a poorly executed one.

If I’m looking at books to buy—unless if have a particular author in mind—what’s on the cover is what induces me to pick it up. What’s on the back as far as the blurb will decide whether I buy it. A good cover includes a good blurb. Yes, I’m attracted to color but more attracted to a well-executed visual. I never have been attracted to cutesy covers. I usually skip over those that scream amateur.

Regardless of the method of publishing, covers are important. Even Print On Demand books can and should look professional. I saw one recently called Sun Singer, by Malcolm Campbell. It was simple but gorgeous in shades of blue. Recently I saw one that was stunning, called In Her Name, Empire, by Michael Hicks. I had no idea it was produced by a small Indie publisher using Print On Demand Technology, from the cover. If it’s done right, you should HAVE no idea that it’s different from mass-market paperbacks—except for the size. Unfortunately, most of the Print On Demand books are obvious because of their covers or lack of good cover art.

Each genre of books has a cover style. Suspense/mystery are generally darker colors, Romance genre usually have faces or figures, a hunky chest or something to draw the eye. Paranormals can have both or have a rather ethereal effect.

Cover Art is big business in Romance. Harlequin recently had a spot on Nightline regarding their cover art, where they said, “Despite what people say, people do judge a book by its cover. [Harlequin] puts an enormous amount of work and fun into these covers.”

You can see the interview at youtube:

Talking to various authors from both publishing methods, many will submit some sort of pictures, or description of what they see for the covers, be it a face, a body, landscape, a market scene, a city skyline. Give them all the help you can, I figure. Some authors will talk with the design departments but ultimately the design is what the publisher thinks will sell the book. Here's two example of romance book covers I personally like. Both draw me for different reasons. Judi Fennell's, In Over Her Head, because of the rich colors in keeping with a Mer storyline, a hunky chest, and I love the font used. Anna Campbell's, Tempt The Devil, because of the expression of challenge and sex appeal apparent in the man's face. I admit I have quite a favorites of covers but not enough space to show all.

Does Cover Art matter? You'd better believe it does!
What are some of your favorite covers out there and why? What draws you to them? Feel free to give us a link.

Sia McKye has spent over twenty years in marketing and promotion. She's written and published various articles on writing, marketing, and promotion. She's a Marketing Rep by profession and also writes fiction. Sia has completed a single title romance trilogy and is busy at work on a fun paranormal series.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Show up!

Today it’s my privilege to have Ken Coffman as a guest Over Coffee. Professionally, Ken is a non-fiction author and an Engineer with Fairchild. Personally, he is a good friend, a bit of a philosopher, a gifted musician, a wonderful storyteller and author of a favorite character of mine, Glen Wilson.

You could say his topic today embodies the philosophy he lives by: Be bold. Take the lead. Show up.

80% of success is showing up.- Woody Allen

What is the right percentage? 80% of success is showing up? I’ve heard 90%, 95%, and even 100%. Let’s not quibble, my friends. Some high percentage of success comes from showing up. But, what the hell does that mean?

I feel like I understand the concept and it doesn’t mean success is easy. Showing up sounds easy, so what’s going on? Let’s suppose you’re sitting in a room with one hundred other people. If you have a question, the physical effort of raising your hand is nothing. You lift that heavy hand hundreds of times a day. But the courage to take the chance, to draw attention to yourself, to risk asking the stupidest question ever asked…that takes courage. Grit. Guts. In this case you gotta show up by raising that heavy hand.

Let me illustrate with an example from my life. Every few years when I can afford it and the mood strikes me, I will act as concert promoter. A while back, I booked a show with Patrick Moraz. Patrick is a world-renowned keyboardist and pianist who played with Yes and The Moody Blues. Truly, he is as close to a modern incarnation of Mozart that we will see in our lifetime. That sounds over-the-top and ludicrous, doesn’t it? But, check it out. You’ll see.

For an opening act, I decided to book a friend, Eric Dahl. Eric is a talented songwriter/storyteller, but I remember the day he told me he didn’t know how to play the guitar. I’d seen him perform and loved his songs…how could it be that he ‘knows not’ how to play? As it turns out, a guitar-playing friend tunes his acoustic guitar to an open chord and all Eric has to do is move his thumb and index finger up and down the neck to play simple patterns. As an aside, this is the way Glen Wilson (from my novel series, the continuing adventures of Glen Wilson, which starts with Steel Waters) also plays the guitar. This is in no way coincidental, but never mind that.

The concert was fun and the audience ate it up. Then, at the end, for an encore, a group of people wanted to hear Eric playing with Patrick. My heart sank. This would be a disaster… We can’t combine one of the premier pianists of the world with a fellow who does not know how to play the guitar. Sensing a meltdown, I sank into my seat and tried to disappear.Here’s what happened. Eric got on stage, grinned at the crowd and started playing and singing a simple, funky bluesy pattern. Genius that he is, Patrick joined in and played wild, creative and amazing accompaniment. It was great. Perfect. Beautiful. And taught me a valuable lesson. I have the recording. It’s cool.

The life lesson?

Be bold. Take the lead. Show up.

What does this mean to my fellow writers? We’ll have setbacks. The blank page will sit on our screen and mock us. We’ll get a bad review. Another rejection letter. We’ll lose a contest. It can be overwhelming, paralyzing and depressing. That’s life. What should we do? Work! Perfect your skill at creating characters, designing a story arc and executing your ideas with good grammar, vocabulary and syntax. No matter where you started and no matter where you are today, you can get better and inch closer to your goal. Step-by-step. Day-by-day.
And that’s what I’m doing. Thanks Eric.

Ken Coffman is the author of Steel Waters, Hartz String Theory and other mad novels available from and other online bookstores. He wrote a popular technical book called Real World FPGA Design with Verilog published by Pearson-Prentice Hall.

He is a Field Applications Engineer and Member of the Technical Staff at Fairchild Semiconductor.

He is the coauthor of six patents, a member of the standards association of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a guitar player. He plays golf exactly the way his boss wants him to: very poorly.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Like many writers today, Cheryl Brooks leads a busy life. She’s wife, mother, caretaker of an assortment of critters, and works full time as a Critical Care Nurse. Did I happen to mention she has five cats? I think she likes felines, a lot. Cheryl has also written a wonderful series called The Cat Star Chronicles.

Busy lives means juggling and juggling means we’re going to forget something along the way; I figure that’s why sticky notes were invented. Today Cheryl talks a bit about forgetfulness.

I used to have a nearly photographic memory. I didn't forget anything, not the details of a lecture in school, not directions on how to do a procedure, not what time I was supposed to be somewhere, or what I was supposed to bring. Taking tests was easy because I could picture in my mind the page and paragraph where the answers to specific questions were located. Oh, how I wish those days were here again! It's just my luck that my writing career seems to have taken off just when my mind has decided to leave town.

I'm not alone. Meryl Streep once said she never had any trouble remembering her lines until she hit menopause. All of my friends who are about my age are having similar difficulties—walking into a room and not knowing what you went in there for, being in the shower and washing your feet twice because you don't remember washing them the first time, and forgetting to write that blog you promised to send to Sia. . .

Fortunately, the written word is there to remind us of what we've forgotten; little nudges to help avoid looking stupid. Looking back through blog comments, I found one from Sia on Wickedly Romantic that I hadn't seen, which mentioned this particular contribution. If it hadn't been for that, I probably would have felt really dumb when Sia said, at some point: “So, what about that blog you promised me?”

My husband and eldest son are tickled to death with the loss of my memory because now I'm no different from them. My youngest son has taken over as the memory vault for the family. He never forgets anything, and being mildly autistic, he has very few qualms in pointing out to you just what you've neglected. Unfortunately, he only remembers things that I remember to tell him.

This can cause problems for a writer because you have to constantly look back to see if you've already described the hero's startling green eyes or the heroine's long, silky tresses. Sometimes those details can be very difficult to find, too—mainly because they usually aren't where you remember putting them. The “find & replace” function is quite useful—if you can remember a key word. Thank heaven for email providers with unlimited storage capacities. If I had to shuffle through actual letters, I'd never make it. As it is, I'm so pleased I can point out that, yes, in the email dated such-and-such, I told you about. . .

A few days ago, I recalled (amazingly enough) the old adage that “Rosemary is for Remembrance.” Desperate to recover that which I had lost, I made some rosemary tea, which I drank a few sips of off and on throughout the day—and, yes, it tastes just as bad as you think it would. I believe it helped some, but obviously, I should have made more of it today when I went to the bank and forgot to bring along the checks that needed cashing.

Some days, it just doesn't pay to leave the house.

Cheryl Brooks is the author of The Cat Star Chronicles. This series of erotic science fiction novels explores the lives of the last of a race of feline lovers captured in war and sold into slavery. Discover how the men of Zetith could make an entire galaxy of men jealous enough to destroy their race...

Slave was the first of Cheryl's books to be published with Sourcebooks Casablanca. What makes it even more exciting is that they have asked for five more novels in this series!

Cheryl is a native of Louisville, KY, and graduated from the Kentucky Baptist Hospital School of Nursing and then went on to earn a BSN from Indiana University. Horse crazy from the time she knew what a horse was, her family moved to rural Indiana in 1989. Since then, she's managed to accumulate four horses and five cats. Cheryl has been working full-time as a critical care nurse for more than thirty years, which can be exciting, but she's itching for a different kind of excitement!

Cheryl's other interests include cooking, gardening, singing and guitar playing. "I'm really hurt that The Eagles got back together without me!"

You can visit Cheryl at her website: . And catch her blogs at Wickedly Romantic andn Cheryl Brooks Erotic Blogspot

Available in June 2009