Archive for March, 2015

How Important is a Book’s Cover

March 16, 2015

The old saw, don’t judge a book by its cover, is by-and-large wrong in today’s publishing environment. It’s true that you can’t tell the quality of a book, unless you know the author, but you can tell a lot else about a book by its packaging. A book’s cover can indicate its genre, its story premise, its setting, and its tone. Think of all of the components of a cover: the art, the dust jacket text, the promotional quotes, and even the title. In fact, the type of edition, hardback, trade paperback, mass market or eBook tells us something.

A cover for a Stephen King book is distinctly different from an Alan Furst cover. And authors beware, if your cover sends mixed messages that will confuse the reader and lead to disappointment. Imagine if a Stephen King cover were put on an Alan Furst novel, or vice versa.

Covers change over time, to be sure. Google The Great Gatsby and see how the cover art has evolved, but it’s always appropriate to the story, just updated in style.

I contend that a writer should be just as particular about a book’s packaging as about its contents. But the cover, except for self-published books, is usually the prerogative of the publisher. The conflict between author and publisher over covers, when it does come up, is usually between the publisher’s desire for the cover to make an immediate impact, and the author’s aim to have the cover make an appropriate impact. These are not necessarily conflicting goals, of course. Hopefully, whatever tension arises between author and publisher over a book’s cover is resolved to produce one that serves both ends, catching the buyer’s eye and reflecting the content.


First Chapters

March 10, 2015

Today, there is tremendous pressure on authors, particularly those aspiring to be published for the first time, to write a smashing first chapter; a chapter that sells an agent on reading the manuscript and convinces an editor to buy the novel.

While a fast moving, well written first chapter—suspense launched and tension crackling—is necessary, it’s not sufficient to ensure your novel will sell well, a key goal for most writers.

I would suggest that the climax chapter is at least as important, if not more important, than the first chapter. The climax pulls together all that has gone before it into a deeply satisfying moment of revelation and/or emotional release, making the novel memorable and recommendable, a word of mouth phenomenon driving rewarding sales.

Palm Beach Peril, April 17

March 7, 2015

I’m excited to announce that I will be one of five debut thriller authors selected by the International Thriller Writers to join New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline on April 17 at the Palm Beach Peril. This major event will introduce Lisa’s latest noel, Every Fifteen Minutes, and will include readings, a panel discussion and book signings. I will be there to discuss and sign copies of The Fourth Rule.

The event will be held at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library in Delray Beach, FL beginning at 2 p.m. If you are in the area, please join us!