Please help us welcome author Amelia Bishop today to celebrate our 5 Year Blogiversary. She’s here to chat about book packaging, and is also giving one lucky reader to win a book from her backlist, so be sure to check out the details below.
Hi! I’m so happy to be here for the Blogiversary of The Novel Approach Reviews! Thank you for having me.
So… I noticed recently a bit of drama about a popular m/f book with #problematic romance (kidnapping, non-consensual, abuse). I clicked the link to view the offending book, as you do, and I read the blurb and the comments and basically decided it wasn’t something I needed to think too much about.
Then I was wrapping gifts with my kids (these things are connected, I promise) and my daughter, who is 12, had what she thought was a hysterically funny idea. She took a tiny joke gift for my husband (a little brass bell that says “Danger: Fart Alert!” on it lol) and wrapped it in a giant box. She laughed and laughed about this clever trick. When my husband noticed the big beautiful package with the tag “to Dad” slapped on the top of it, he was suitably impressed. She sat there like the cat who ate the canary, super happy with phase one of her great Christmas joke.
Later, I saw yet another Facebook thread about the scandalous book. I admit, the book in question is not one I would ever read, even without knowing any of the drama associated with it. Here’s why: the packaging. (See, I told you I’d connect it!) Packaging on a book—cover, blurb, title, tagline—all help inform reader’s expectations. So we can’t pull the kind of trick my 12 year old did. We have to be clear about what’s in the package.
Me personally, I never read anything with the words “bad boy” or “alpha” or anything hinting at darkness. It’s just not my thing. One thing I LOVE about the Romance genre is the variety of subjects, themes, and characters we have. It seems there is a book for every mood and any taste. So while I ignore the “bad boy” books, many other readers zoom in on them.
When I write a book, I try so hard to get that packaging right. I don’t always succeed, but I do try. My books are lighter, more gentle and sweet. But I also put in a good deal of explicit sex, so I have to make sure that is communicated, too. My main characters are not big, hyper-masculine types. I tend to write more down-to-earth, sensitive MCs. Which means I have to make my covers sexy without using brawny tattooed bodybuilders, and make them romantic and sensual without promising too much “alpha” action. It’s harder than you might think!
It makes me wonder how many people consciously choose (or avoid) books based on cover art and keywords in the blurbs. Am I alone in doing this? If you look at your kindle shelf, are there a lot of similarities in the colors or images there? What makes you pick up a book? What kinds of images and words attract you, and what puts you off? Or do you let the reviews convince you? I’d love to hear your opinions 🙂
To help The Novel Approach celebrate, I’m offering a title of your choice from my backlist in either paperback (US shipping only) or e-book to one lucky winner!