A few weeks ago, RWA announced this year’s nominees for the RITAS and the Golden Heart competition.
(Full disclosure: I entered GH, but didn’t make it to the finals. Since I had zero expectations of this happening, I wasn’t upset.)
Anyway, the RITA category I take the most interest in is the single title contemporary. As I might have mentioned before, contemporaries are my favorite romance subgenre. I wanted to see if I’d read any of the nominees. Plus, I’m always on the lookout for new (to me) names and the RITAS are a good place to start.
There were a couple on the list that I’ve read and enjoyed - Victoria Dahl’s Lead Me on and Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson (I basically worship the ground she walks on and have read all her books). I haven’t read Nora Roberts’ Happy Ever After, the fourth title in her wedding series. I’ve read the first (which I discussed before) and have no doubts that I’ll read the others at some point. She is La Nora, after all.
I haven’t read Susan Donovan and Jill Shalvis’ books, but I am familiar with their work.
The names I wasn’t familiar with were Molly Harper and Robin Wells, so I headed straight to Amazon. When I saw the cover for Wells’ book, the first thing to pop into my mind was, “I never would’ve picked this book up.”
I like to think I’m not shallow enough to only judge a book by its cover, but in reality I am. Covers do matter, and I most definitely have a preference.
I have no clue what the book is about (and haven’t read the blurb as to not taint this post), but the cover is kind of wholesome and evokes a dreamy home and hearth feeling from me. The muted colors and the woodsy background don’t appeal to me. I’m a city girl and spending time in the great outdoors really isn’t my thing.
Maybe the book is fast-paced and edgy and current and hilarious and sexy, i.e. the exact thing I love to read, but I don’t get that from the cover. If I saw it at Borders, my eyes would keep right on moving to the next title. It's pretty, but it doesn't "speak" to me.
Let’s contrast Wells’ cover to Dahl’s.
Love it. The colors are bright. The font is modern. It’s minimalist. It’s very modern. Granted, I’d read the first two books in the trilogy, so the cover wasn’t that important to me by the time I bought the third book.
But here’s the cover for the first book in the series, which did matter when I was in the bookstore. It’s sexy and sleek. Love it even more.
Cover design is a risk all publishers take. They want to evoke a certain feeling. They know everything isn’t going to appeal to everybody.
Maybe the perceived demographics for Dahl’s and Wells’ books don’t cross over. I suspect that Wells’ book takes place in the country/small town. Ironically, so does Dahl’s. The setting never once bothered me, but it is an interesting choice that Dahl’s publisher made by choosing not to highlight this aspect of the book.
I’m sure there are some people who haven’t read Dahl’s books because the very things that appeal to me turn them off.
It’s a gamble. I assume publishers have done all kinds of market research and know what does and doesn’t appeal to people and they know what they’re doing.
If I’m ever fortunate to get published, I’d like my covers to fall closer to the Dahl end of the spectrum than Wells.
Now with that said, I probably will read Robin Wells’ book because it’s RITA-nominated, so it has to be good. And I don’t like being shallow.
Are you affected by covers or do you give all (most) books a chance and at least read the back of the book blurb before you decide whether or not to purchase? What kind of covers do you like?
A few weeks ago, I found myself at Borders with a coupon and some Borders Bonus Bucks burning a hole in my pocket. I walked up and down the romance aisles searching for a book to buy. Finally, I stumbled upon Christie Ridgway. I’m always on the lookout for new-to-me contemporary authors. I recognized her name from the 2010 RITA nominee list, so I figured she must be good, so what the hey?
The beachside knitting shop Malibu & Ewe is the perfect place for L.A.’s hip young crowd to enjoy colorful yarn and intimate conversation. For personal chef Nikki Carmichael, it could be the softest place to land if her new job falls through. Working for magazine writer Jay Buchanan has come with some strange conditions—like pretending to be his girlfriend. As for Jay, he finds himself drawn to the kitchen, where he’s intrigued by his sexy cook’s ability to withstand the heat between them. And now he thinks it’s time to turn up the flames.
I bought How to Knit a Wild Bikini because it was the first in the trilogy. I’m a sucker for a series. Apparently, I’m not alone based on the sheer number of them on the market. The premise intrigued me as a reader. As a writer, I was ready to glean any knowledge I could on how to write a single title. One of my 2011 goals is to write one (more on this Friday).
Reader self: I enjoyed the book. Ridgway successfully lured me in to wanting to read the last two books in the trilogy. The book was funny and sexy, which is the best combination in my opinion. There was a running joke from the first meeting between Jay and Nikki that Ms. Ridgway keeps going the whole book, and it had me laughing.
My one gripe was that, especially in the first part of the book, Nikki kept complaining she needed the job because she was broke. However, it was never explained why she had no money. Did she not know how to budget? Did she not have (adequate) health insurance and all her money went to paying medical bills? Who knows?
Writer self: It seems to me that one of the keys to single title is the use of subplots. Ms. Ridgway upped the ante by having three subplots. Obviously, the main plot was the relationship between Nikki and Jay, but there were subplots involving Nikki’s connection to the knit shop and its owner, the next door neighbor (an older Paris Hilton), and Jay’s teenage cousin. That’s a lot.
My problem with subplots is that a lot of time I feel they take attention away from the main focus of the book. That’s something I’ll definitely be mindful of when I write my book.
In a nutshell: Reader self, overall happy. Writer self, learning more each time I read a book.