Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I judged a story by its cover … and was wrong.

By: NYT bestseller Dianna Love

Congratulations to "Debbie C." the winner of Dianna's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

We’ve all done it at some point – made a rash judgment based on cover or image alone. 

I’m not talking about judging people without getting to know them, but other things--like a book, movie or product. 

Back when we had video rental places like Blockbuster in our town, my husband and I would stop by once a week and walk the aisles, trying to decide what would be a good movie for that night.  We made our decisions based on covers and pitch lines about the stories. 

There was one movie I refused to watch for six months.

We took turns choosing, and he kept pointing out Lars and The Real Girl, because he likes funny movies—the  Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler and Jack Black type.  I have to really be in the mood for a goofy film, so every time he’d suggest that movie, I’d shake my head and mutter, “Not enough popcorn in the universe for me to watch that tonight.”

 I’d even looked up the movie online.  The blurb said it was about a relationship between a sweet guy and an anatomically correct sex doll.  Take a look at that DVD cover.  Doesn’t it scream frat house movie?

I knew I could pass on it for only so long and finally gave in.  We watched Lars and The Real Girl.  The whole thing.  I even forgot to make popcorn.

I expected to just get through it and be meh about it, but instead I was ticked off. Very, very angry. 

Why?  The movie promo/marketing department totally missed their target audience. 
I know a lot of people who would’ve loved that movie, but not one of them had seen it at the theater. In fact, I couldn’t find any of my movie friends who’d even seen it on DVD until I told them about it. The screenplay is brilliant and the acting was terrific. 

Once I’d finished watching it, I had to go seriously research this movie.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for best writing (screenplay) and was written by Nancy Oliver.   She could have written a default story (goofy, slapstick humor with stereotypical jokes), but  instead she created a story with so much depth that it was funny, sad and heartwarming all at the same time.  She deserves a standing ovation for the writing.

 How does a high concept idea like that go unnoticed by so many?

Because we never got past the cover.  If you’ve never seen this movie, you should. 

Just like with movies, I think book covers make a big difference in telling readers what a book is about. That’s why I changed covers on an entire series after three of the books had  already been released.   I ran beta tests with readers--those who loved my new Slye Temp romantic suspense series and those unfamiliar with it-- that confirmed something I had suspected.   My original covers did not represent the stories.

They were beautiful covers for mainstream thrillers, but they didn’t send the message “sexy romantic suspense.”  My long-time readers were willing to read this series regardless of the original covers because they know I’ll beat my brains out to give them the best story I can and that there will be a big romance at the heart of it, but new readers unfamiliar with me didn’t “see” the genre they were interested in with those original covers.   

For that reason, I have recently had all the covers on my Slye Temp series redesigned.  The  same amazing artist, Kim Killion, did both versions.  Kiss The Enemy is book four in the Slye Temp series and available for Ebook download or as a print book on October 21, 2013. 


I really appreciate my readers and street team, who gave me feedback on the original cover designs.  Thanks to them, I have new covers I just love.  

Speaking of that, if you’d like to join my street team, go to Dianna Love Street Team on Facebook and click the Sign Up button.

GIVEAWAY:
I’m giving away a print copy of Honeymoon To Die For and a loaded Keeper Kase®!   Leave a comment and tell me – have you ever been pleasantly surprised by misjudging something by its cover?

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 9th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@JustRomanticSuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. US and CANADA residents only.

KISS THE ENEMY

Her only hope is in the hands of her enemy.

Slye Temp operative Margaux Duke is chasing an international terrorist who murdered the last of her family. But her plans go up in smoke when her agency is in the crosshairs of the dangerous killer, forcing her to turn rogue to protect the only family she has left - her team.  This is no time to get involved, especially with an enemy who steps between her and the terrorist she has to stop.  

Logan Baklanov has been known by many names in the underbelly of international terrorism and will do whatever it takes to shield those he loves from the treacherous world he lives in.   When his brother’s life is in jeopardy, Logan takes on a role that places him at the top of the most-wanted lists of government security agencies in every country.  He accepts the no-win situation, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice until a long legged beauty draws the attention of his deadly target and screws Logan’s carefully planned mission. 

Margaux and Logan must join forces in a dangerous game to save a major city from a powerful psychopath, but their ruse escalates out of control when the heat smoldering between them threatens to explode. 

51 comments:

  1. Yes, I totally judge books by their covers and have sometimes been pleasantly surprised! I must say the same with movies. If the cover turns me off or doesn't shout watch me! I won't bother.
    suerpeace@gmail.com

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    1. I know what you mean. That's why I think we (authors, publishers, movie companies) need to be proactive about find the best way to present our work to the public. Thanks for visiting today!

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  2. I've had this work both ways...being blown away by a book with an unappealing cover and underwhelmed by one with a fantastic one. My buying decisions are based on many factors, not just the covers, but they may be the first things to attract me to further exploration or not. I recently put off reading a book because the cover was drab and just didn't call to me. When I finally started it, I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long because it was extraordinary.

    Thanks for the post!

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    1. Yes, that image issue works both ways. I've been unhappy when I've gone to a movie that I was SURE would be amazing, but it wasn't. And I've had a book keep getting slid down in my TBR stack b/c the cover put me off, but something about that story (previous author work or a blurb I'd read) had gotten it to that point. It's not easy to get the right mix of cover, title, blurb and so forth, but it's worth the effort to try every time. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  4. HI Dianna im here from your facebook page and i gotta tell ya im super excited for book 4 and i love the cover
    i try not to judge books by the cover but i have with movies i didnt want to see the a-team movie i just felt like ther is no way this is gonna be a decent movie my cousin begged me to watch it and now its one of my favorites lol :)

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    1. Hi Danielle (you're in!). That's so funny about the A Team movie, because it's one of my favorites, but I admit that I was going to see it regardless. ;) thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I would have to agree with you! I have read many great stories that had horrible/off putting covers. I usually go off of the description

    Thanks for the Blog and sending me via Facebook

    Christie Lee e-mail: christie_lee49@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi Christie (you're in, too) - As an author, we are thrilled that readers are so forgiving. I'm glad you gave books a chance based on the description - it's appreciated! thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  6. I have to admit I have judged by covers before but it has usually happened more with movies. I tend to give books more of a chance and at least read the blurb before making a final decision.

    I came over from your FB Page

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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    1. Hi Donna (got the FB note) - I'm probably about half and half on judging books and movies by covers. I find it's not so much that I won't try a cover that doesnt' just grab me as it is that I will not pick up a book if the cover has something that turns me off. I'll open a book with a blank cover and text before something gross. Thanks for your comment!

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  7. Yes I will admit that I have seen some covers that turned me off, but something about the book spoke to me and I bought it anyway... most of the time it turned out to be a great read and I wonder why it took me so long to get to it... even e-books are the same way... some covers are not to my liking and I will pass over them.

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    1. Hi Colleen - I think too often someone doesn't worry much about an ebook cover because it's not 'on a shelf,' but I'm always talking to writers and telling them to give every part of their book their full attention, to make it all the best it can be. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. I am so ashamed of myself because I have judged a book by its cover, multiple times. However, I try not to do it anymore. I avoided the Harry Potter books and movies because they looked like something I would not have enjoyed. That was a horrible decision on my part. Thank goodness I eventually read/saw them all. I also used to avoid historical romances because the covers just seemed to cheesy, but my opinions on those have changed as well. I have most definitely learned my lesson!

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    1. Hi Heather - I wasn't as excited about Harry Potter when it was first being published because I thought it was for middle grade kids, which would be true, but I think publishers have learned from that with covers like Rick Riordan's that have a wider appeal. So I know what you're saying. I do like the newer historical covers, because I'm a big historical fan, too. :) Thanks for visiting today!

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  9. I totally agree! A book cover always catches my attention first. THEN I read the back cover/blurb. Awesome post!

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    1. Hi Tonya - Thanks for stopping by to chat and share your thoughts. You definitely brand your covers well (if those of you don't know Tonya - check out her magical mystery series). :)

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  10. hi Dianna,

    Yes I did see this movie and was surprised with it, I liked it but also didn't watch it because not much to know about it. Same as other things, covers are not always as seems

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    1. Hi Dina - I was teaching a lot of writing workshops back when this came out and I would ask the entire room if anyone had seen it. I "might" get one hand in 2-3 workshops. Thanks for visiting the blog!

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  11. i have definitely been surprised by something that looked all wrong on the cover. i have also thought something would be good by the cover and it was not. i try to go be recommendations if it is something i am not sure about, especially if it is someone i trust to tell me yay or nay about something.

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    1. You have a good point, Nova. Even with good covers, if I'm torn on reading it or not I'll ask some friends, too. That's the great thing about the reading community - we love to share about books. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  12. Unless Im familiar with an author a cover always draws my eye first and I have to check out what the story is about. Sometimes Im a little disappointed that it didn't live up to my expectations but Im a sucker for a great cover.

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    1. HI Julie Ann - I do hate when I'm pulled in and so sure I'm going to love something then get let down. I was soooo excited to watch the movie "The Legend" and just knew Will Smith would kill it big time. He did a terrific job of acting but the story broke down in the middle and was such a disappointment. That's the flip side of getting great marketing and not getting the story right. thanks for visiting the blog!

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  13. I won't win anything by saying this (lol), but if a cover looks sexily romantic to me, I won't buy it :) I would buy a book with a "cutesy" cover, though... which are often shallow and and disappointment. So I have been surprised by book and movie covers in both good ways and bad.

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    1. Louise - LOL, no harm done. I had very mainstream covers on these books because I have both male and female readers, but the covers weren't true to the stories. I know plenty of authors with cute covers who have fun books that match the cover so don't give up on therm. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  14. LOL, Yes I have been a cover snob. I have been pleasantly surprised many times and the other way around

    debredevil@yahoo.com

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    1. Debbie - Too funny on being a cover snob. ;) I think at my next reader event I'm bringing up this topic because it's been fun to read all this feedback. Thanks for visiting the blog!

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  15. I tend to be drawn in by a cover. I always read the back and usually even read a few pages of a book before deciding to buy it or check it out of the library, what have you. I have been both burned by a good cover and surprised by a bad one, so I try not to judge solely on that anymore.

    ahume08 at gmail dot com

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    1. Amanda - I go with cover and blurb pretty much unless someone has referred a book. I won't say what book, but there is a major series (out a long time ago) that I kept trying to read and couldn't get into it no matter how much everyone told me how great it was. Then one day, a friend said, "Oh, you have to skip the first 30-40 pages, it gets good." They were right, but left on my own I wouldn't have read it. thanks for visiting here!

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  16. Not really because I also read the blurb

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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    1. Hi BN - See, you're one of the readers who wouldn't have cared about my original covers. :) Thanks for your thought!

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  17. OMG, Dianna! When Lars and the Real Girl came out, my husband was pushing me to see it too--and we never have. I'll be sure to make a point to watch it soon, especially after your recommendation! I totally agree that sometimes covers don't do justice to a story, or truly convey the essence of what a book is about. One of my books is kind of suffering from that right now (I think!) and thankfully is getting a cover makeover. If it comes out half as wonderful as your Slye Temp covers, I'll be thrilled! Hope you're doing great and getting to do lots of riding! :)

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    1. Hi Tracy - LOL, see? You have to watch it. Well I love your Tempted in the Tropics cover, so I'm thinking it can't be that. Thanks for the compliment on my Slye covers. I'm really happy with them. I hope to get out on my motorcycle soon before the weather turns too cold. :) thanks for stopping by!

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  18. A cover may attract my attention, but the back blurb is the selling point.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. I have to agree, Taurus. It's like a window display. I'll walk in the store, but I have to find what I'm looking for and feel like it's right for me to buy it. :) Thanks for your feedback.

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  19. I'll admit that I'm a total cover snob. I totally will judge a book by it's cover but if I read great reviews for it or the blurb catches my attention, I'll give it a 2nd chance. I'm more willing to do this now that I have my kindle and having a book w/ an ugly cover isn't such a standout anymore. Congrats to Dianne on the new release and thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Erin - I love my print books and my Kindle Fire. I'm with you. I think ebooks makes it possible for someone to read a book that the cover may have stopped them from doing. Thanks for coming by the blog!

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  20. I have a lot of books, especially ebooks, that I didn't like the cover at all but the book had a great review on a site I visit so I bought it and was pleasantly surprised.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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    1. That's great to hear, Maureen, because a lot of authors (and publishers) have to find their way through the cover-issue. It's not always simple, so it's nice that you can give them a try. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  21. I am not a big movie fan and I have to say I judge most books by the author and the description. I am learning though what an author goes through to provide a good cover, I will now pay more attention lsscarchuk@att.net

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    1. Hi LS - Ah, that's so sweet of you to take what we go through into consideration. I know most authors are like me in that our one goal, our only goal is to make our readers happy. The story comes first then we work through the rest. Thanks for visiting here!

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  22. I have to say, the book cover will often determine whether I pick it up and read the blurb and the first few pages or pass it by. However, if I read a great review or it's recomended by a friend I will give a second look. I know form my writer buddies, how often the cover doesn't come out they way they want and I need to stop judging by the cover! As far as movies, I often watch what gets trashed by reveiwer's and am pleasantly surprised a great deal of the time.
    roberta.lerman@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Roberta - You know, that's a point about accolades - or not - that a movie gets. I have been so sorely disappointed by some Academy Award winning movies over the years that we don't pay attention to anything except what other movie goers tell us. I think readers set that standard a long time ago by sharing through word of mouth. It's still the number one way to get word out about a book. :) I'm thrilled about that. Thanks for stopping by and chatting!

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  23. Yes! I don't want to say whose book but lets just say the original cover was meh...I delayed reading and reading but the sequel was upcoming and was going to be featured on my blog. I got 10 pages in and I was in I'm still dying for the next book! LOL So, never hurts to just go ahead and try anyway!
    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    Tobi
    forgethousework at gmail dot com

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    1. LOL, that's too funny, Tobi, but also very true. I'm glad I'm not the only who has had that "dang" moment. Thanks for visiting on the blog!

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    2. I'm a self professed "cover whore" in the nicest of ways. She is one of my good friends now as well. Which is why I finally made myself dig in. LOL I try not to judge too much but you know! ;)

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  24. Sigh... My name is Julie and I'm a coveraholic.

    I can liken it to food ...if it doesn't appeal to my eyes I do not consume it. The worst book covers, for me, are the cartoonish, cutesy ones.

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    1. Hi Julie - Coverholic! I love it. :) And I do love a good cover. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  25. Lol... my tablet must not agree with my opinion. It just published before I was done. Anyway, thanks for stopping in.
    Julie O
    jo1963jo at gmail dot com

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    1. No problem. :) Glad you finished posting!

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  26. Thank you, Maureen, for allowing me to guest blog. Also, thank you all for taking the time to visit and share your thoughts. I really appreciate the wonderful feedback on my new Slye Temp covers and look forward to coming back here again.

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