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A book cover has always been a marketing tool.  But with a paper book sitting on a brick and mortar shelf, the quality and impact of the cover art isn't the only selling tool.  The book has a physical presence and sometimes the art does too.  Keyhole covers and snazzy cut outs get to play with textures.  The cover is often what gets a buyer to pick up a book, but then the buyer can read a paragraph from the first chapter, the middle chapter and the last chapter.  It all combines to make an impact that makes a difference.

An e-book has to make the sale with the quality of the art first.  It has to catch the eye with more than a visual impact.  It has to carry the book's pitch clearly enough to hint at answers to the questions that the sample pages can't convey.  The art has to carry the author's message and it can't do it with texture or snazzy cut outs.  It takes a gifted artist to create an e-cover good enough to seal the deal. 

The artist who designed the covers for Brotherly and E-mail is a phenomenally creative soul who had the good taste and poor judgment to marry me.  I think my hubby did a great job with both covers because he cared about the message of the book and even bothered to learn some of the finer details.  My husband considers learning anything about a romance novel to be a sign of supreme love and a sacrifice beyond measure. (He never knew I spent so much time thinking of creative ways to refer to men's members.)  But beyond all else, he put his artistic talents to work to design a quality cover I'd be proud to have my name on anytime, anywhere.

I don't think authors of e-books always take enough time or pay enough attention to their covers.  In many ways, e-books are to publishing what no fault was to divorce.  And that's a mixed blessing.  Some good work can now get to readers that they could never have had the freedom to choose just a couple of years ago.  But just as no fault made divorce so easy that couples too often don't try to work on their marriages, e-books can make publication so easy that authors don't take the time to design the best image for their work. 

E covers matter more and we should all work to get them right. 

And to John, the creative genius unfortunate enough to be married to a (sometimes more than slightly) warped writer in lawyer's clothing, I love you very much -- and thank you.

Or at least, let's get on with it!

I've encountered a problem with several recent books by romance writers whose work I adore.  Too much back story.  Not only do I want to meet the hero and heroine early on, I want them to meet each other.  It's their interaction, chemistry and conflict that will drive me to read the book.  I think of it as the Grey's Anatomy requirement. 

On the pilot episode of Grey's some of the first scenes were Mer/Der.  The emotions of that first meeting have carried the show and kept me watching even when the couple was apart.  Because once they had the spark and sizzle, no matter who they're with or what they're doing, the S&S factor flavors every encounter.  I give Shonda Rhimes some props for kindling the fire and for being smart enough to keep the embers burning.

That's what I want from my books.  Even though Mer/Der got to the grinding and grubbing right away, a literary couple doesn't have to (and I really, really hope they won't) sleep together in the first 10 or even the first 50 pages.  By the time they have sex, I want to be emotionally invested.  On the other hand, I don't want to be so tired of details and history and minutia that I'm too bored to care much by the time they meet, greet and make it sweet. 

I'll take some history if I have to, but first, I need a spoonful of S&S to make it go down and keep me hanging around.