Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Guest Blogger -- Tracy Sumner

Please make room on the swingset for today's guest blogger, Tracy Sumner!

Thanks for inviting me to the Playground!

My discussion today? Covers. What do readers expect and how have covers changed with the changes in publishing? And what do writers want? (With the explosion of e-publishing, authors actually have a say when they may not have before!)

The reason I thought I’d discuss this topic is, I had a recent comment that my covers are a bit…contemporary. I should say that, to date, I’ve only published historic romance. And, on a further note, I should add that I’m a graphic designer in the real world. Although I did not design my covers. That went to Kim Killion at HotDamn Designs!

Okay, here’s the original cover for TIDES OF PASSION.

Not bad, right? (And this was the best of my Kensington-release bunch.) But when I released TIDES OF PASSION as an e-book, I had a different idea. The setting is very much entrenched in the North Carolina coast (Outer Banks), and although it is set in 1898, it’s a bit outside the “lords and ladies” Victorian or Regency historical settings. So, I went for a little more modern feel.

With what I’ll call the expansion of the genre, I think readers have come to expect the cover to tell them something about the heat level, not only the setting or time period. TIDES OF PASSION is the most graphic book with regard to love scenes that I’ve written, however, probably still a 3.5/4 on a scale of 5. Very, very warm – but not erotica.

For the prequel, TIDES OF LOVE, my cover artist and I went with this.

I did revert to very historical “style” with a holiday novella and its prequel. TO SEDUCE A ROGUE is set to release in February. TO DESIRE A SCOUNDREL is already out. I think the ROGUE cover is my very favorite of my backlist covers to date.

Tracy’s story telling career began when she picked up a copy of LaVyrle Spencer’s Vows on a college beach trip. A journalism degree and a thousand romance novels later, she decided to try her hand at writing a southern version of the perfect love story. With a great deal of luck and more than a bit of perseverance, she sold her first novel to Kensington Publishing.

When not writing sensual stories featuring complex characters and lush settings, Tracy can be found reading romance, snowboarding, watching college football and figuring out how she can get to 100 countries before she kicks (which is a more difficult endeavor than it used to be with her four-year-old son in tow). After stops in France, Switzerland and Taiwan, she now lives in the south. However, after spending a few years in “the city”, she considers herself a New Yorker at heart.

Tracy has been awarded the National Reader’s Choice, the Write Touch and the Beacon – with finalist nominations in the HOLT Medallion, Heart of Romance, Rising Stars and Reader’s Choice. Her books have been translated into German, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. She loves hearing from readers about why she tends to pit her hero and heroine against each other and that great novel she simply must order in five seconds on her Kindle.

@SumnerTracy on Twitter


Quilt Lady said...

Love your covers, their awesome!!!

Instigator said...

Welcome to the Playground! Your covers are wonderful.

Long before I was a writer I was a reader, and covers were a huge reason why I might pick one book up off the shelf as opposed to another. I view covers a little differently now, but there's still that instinctual need to know more when a cover catches my eye.


Tracy Sumner said...

I love covers! Of course, I'm a graphic designer, so...makes sense. Though I did not design my own. ;)

Katherine Bone said...

Hi Tracy! Wow! Great covers!

Yes, I am attracted to covers and look to them to give me the feel for the book. I write historicals so when a good one comes along that pulls me in, I'm hooked.

I love your covers, especially your historical ones.

Have you found any difference in market value with the updated covers vs the more historical looking ones?

Is there a big market for freelance graphic design work in the romance biz? My daughter is getting her Graphic Design degree and really wants to work with book covers. Thanks!

Angel said...

Welcome to the Playground, Tracy! Ah, covers. I have to admit that covers tell me a lot about the book inside, and really good covers (especially with vibrant colors) will catch my eye. That's not why I buy -- often its because I already know the author and have read her work, and the back cover blurb is a big selling point for me (or website blurb in the case of e-books).

But just in general, the cover is what will cause me to pick it up or not. You have some beautiful ones!!! I wouldn't tag those middle two as historicals, but as a spicy book reader, I would definitely pick them up. I love how clear and professional most e-book covers are now. Evocative and imaginative, they can really bring the author's portrayal of their book to life.

Great job!

Tracy Sumner said...

Funny you should say they are not exactly the typical historical covers. I have had this discussion on another blog recently. And I feel they work because my historicals are historical "light". They're southern settings but not the Regency or Victorian-type novels (which I love, as a reader by the way). They have a bit of a modern edge for a historical. And, to date, the TIDES series have sold very well. I think the series hook helps -- and the fact that they were published previously by Kensington may not hurt, either. TO SEDUCE A ROGUE just came out on Saturday, so I can't tell you much about it yet. But SCOUNDREL sold like hotcakes during the holidays!

And, yes, mine are sexy. Nothing outside the norm for the genre -- but fairly sexy. Again, I wanted this represented on the covers.

And, Katherine, big possibilities with cover design. Tell your daughter to check into it!

Laurie G said...

Your covers are quite different from each other, but still eye-catching. I agree with you that the bold red and yellow colors attract your attention. However, the pretty day beach scene fosters fond,fun,memories, so I'm in a positive frame of mind when I pick up that book.

For me, the back blurb sells the book. If I'm not interested in the storyline even a gorgeous front cover will not entice me to buy the book.

I dislike it when the cover character's physical attributes do not match the author's writing.

Best wishes for continued success with your writing!

Cheryl C. said...

Love the covers! I am not drawn in by the art but, like Laurie G., the blurb on the back. I do find one thing interesting about me - I will not pick up a book with the new art that has the drawn cartoonish characters on it and bright colors. I just will not and I won't even read the blurb. Don't know why but I find myself looking past that book. Good luck with your writing and your new release!

tracy sumner said...

Thanks, all!