Never judge a book by its cover?!
Recently a major publishing house sent an e-mail asking me to vote on two different proposed book covers for a non-fiction work on financial scams. Clever marketing: Use a focus group to judge a product then market the product to that same group.
Obviously, the publisher knew enough to profile me and chose well, as both author and topic interest me.
Advice abounds on building a platform and knowing your readership. Key question: Who is your reader? Answer: Female. Romantic. Curious.
I asked my friend, a graphic artist, to design a mock-up cover for my manuscript One Dress, One Day. Naively, I believed accompanying artwork would make my proposal stand out. I sent mock-up covers to only two publishers. Nothing.
Of course, all the how-to-get-yourself-published advice columns and websites tell you the opposite. Perhaps I was influenced by Céline Dion’s story about how as a teenager, she wrapped her demo cassette with a big red bow then sent it to her future agent and husband, René Angélil. Too enthusiastic? Too late. A lesson for me.
Fortunately, my artist friend became so involved in the manuscript that she begged for more. As a reader and artist, Joy responded to the drama, setting and pop culture but primarily became fascinated by the characters. “What happened to the thief?” Joy kept asking me. “And the baby?” [NO SPOILER ALERT]
At that point, my concept was a short hybrid text, a novellario, but now I am fleshing out my cast of quirky characters. The thief, his lover, … this sounds like a lush Greenaway film with cannibalism. Rest assured, One Dress One Day resembles Almodóvar’s colourful cinema. A romantic romp in bittersweet Barcelona, circa 1990. Tapas and Sangria plus pop music within one dramatic 24-hour period.
Joy’s professional perspective not only led to the eye-catching illustration seen here but also reminded me to keep telling the story. Rather like gossip, readers want more… about the stolen wedding gown ensemble and how it touched the thief, the barmaid, the farmgirl, the blindman, the politician, his wife, the bride and groom plus the middle-age couple.
Here are the mock-ups. Which illustration did I prefer? The cover with a vague romantic couple in the background or the other with a blurb at the bottom of the image? Flamenco? Taxi?
Honestly, both covers inspire me to keep chronicling the lives touched by a stolen wedding gown.