Cover Art and Cover Copy: Two Tales of One Book

Several readers have brought this blog entry to my attention – seems Jane Lockwood has a book with something of an identity crisis.

The publisher’s cover copy reads like it’s a steamy historical and conveniently neglects to mention a very spicy male-male story line in the triangle between two dudes and a lady. The author’s website (hur hur ‘Lockwood’ hur hur) is more forthcoming about the male-male emotional attachment and potential sexuality in the book.

As Robin at Six Degrees says, “you’ll either wind up missing out on one of the most tummy-twisting erotic stories of the year or buying it for your grandmother, thinking it’s something entirely different.” Yowza! That’s a conundrum. If you were Lockwood, what would you do to promote your book in spite of your publisher’s odd efforts on your behalf?


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  1. Lorelie says:

    One thing I’d do is figure out how to do one of those author plog posts at Amazon.  And in there, mention the m/m.  Might help cut down on the “I didn’t know what I was getting into!” factor.

  2. Dayle says:

    That’s a very good question! My latest (as Sarah Dale) has a cover that makes it look like a YA, whereas it’s actually a steamy romance featuring an “older” (early 30s) rock star (not a pretty pop boy)! So many readers have complained about the cover, and I know I’m losing potential readers because they’re just not going to pick up the book based on the misleading cover.

  3. Chrissy says:

    We keep ending up here, don’t we?

    It’s not about warnings or censorship or anything similar, really.  It’s about bad marketing on the part of the publisher and it’s become epidemic.

    Covers are awful, utterly failing to properly reflect the tone of the book.  Blurbs are useless.


  4. Teddy Pig says:

    Ass-Bandits of the Caribbean!

    Avast yee! Pirates of booooty! Arrrrgh, deeper matey!

  5. Teddy Pig says:

    Needs more poop deck jokes.

  6. kirsten saell says:

    I’ll keelhaul yer nethers, ye scurvy wag! Plunder me bilge hole with yer oaken bowsprit, matey!

    More to the point, covers are a huge source of anxiety for authors, and it’s one reason I am so glad I’m with Samhain. With a very few exceptions, their covers are beautifully designed, and I know they believe in truth in advertising.

    I’ve been taken by surprise by m/m content in a novel myself, though I was pretty young and naive at the time and I thought it was kinda hot, so no biggie. I didn’t recommend the book to my mother, tho.

  7. Amy Ruttan says:

    With the RWA all up in arms about noting erotic situations for the RITA’s not to offend some judges, um looks like the publishers are going to have some very offended little grey haired grannies. LOL!

    The cover and blurb do no justice to the excellent story beneath the covers.

  8. Teddy Pig says:

    Stimpy what IDIOT would accept a position to judge erotica and be easily offended by sex? (Said in my best Ren voice!)

    I swear the RWA goes out of it’s way to give us free comedy.

  9. smartmensab-tch says:

    Let’s not make too many assumptions about what grayhaired grannies like.  We might be very, very surprised.

    My maternal grandmother had her 7th child at 48.  Family legend says she sat reading a paperback book during labor and called the nurse when it was time for the birth.  Don’t know if this is true because I was only 2 at the time.  My mom is the oldest of the 7.

  10. Becky says:

    I could be wrong (it happens a lot), but I don’t believe RWA has an erotica category.  If you write erotica and choose to enter the RITA’s, you enter paranormal, romantic suspense, historical, hopefully not YA, and compete with everything else in the category.

  11. Yo ho ho!

    Teddy, I could kiss you but I don’t think you’d really enjoy it.

    I’m actually thinking of entering FB into the inspirational category of the Rita since the hero quotes Psalm 102 at one point and spends a lot of time on his knees.

  12. Wry Hag says:

    Sounds mighty inspirational to me, Jane.

    I’m not sure what kind of mode I’m in tonight, but here’s one of its results.

    Forget the heroine.  Better yet, kill her.  I’m sure she’s bee-ooo-ti-ful and spunky and sublimely sensual and all that happy horseshit, but I’m already rooting (or is it rutting?) for Allen and the nameless and apparently shameless other man. 

    Maybe I’m missing my fag-hag days.  Maybe I sprained something in my graying cranial zone while wrestling with my Great Geriatric Pall.  Maybe I’m entirely too focused on the book I’m currently writing.  Maybe I just latched onto the phrase, “chains of desire, passion, jealousy, and betrayal” and immediately formed an irresistible image of two wicked (and wicked-hot) men who’d be better off without a bee-ooo-ti-ful, spunky, sublimely sensual courtesan mucking things up for them…and who finally come to realize same.

    In any case, I already know I’d be disappointed if that broad weren’t somehow dispatched by the end of the book.  That’s just my take on the two different blurbs.


  13. Teddypig says:

    Wry Hag!

    You are a genius!

    Gay Guerrilla Romance!

    We manipulate you with a manage but then we cast the courtesan to the curb while delivering the dudes dueling dicks in despair.

    Beware the eeeeevil GGR plan of subverting the RITAS one Manlove moment at a time.

  14. Wry Hag says:

    Fuckin’ A, Teddy.  Been a while since I had a Cause.

  15. Charlene says:

    I still like the gay inspirational idea, but it does remind me of the church sign that read, “Staying in bed and moaning ‘oh, God’ does not constitute going to church”.

  16. Erastes says:

    As someone has already said, don’t assume what grannies like!  I have at least 50 grannies on my friends list on LJ and they all read it and write it. 

    My cynical self wonders as to the motivations of the publisher. Are they slipping gently onto the m/m bandwagon as it gains strength, or are they pushing a story by a well known author (I don’t know her, sorry) but underplaying the m/m becauuse people are still bigots?

    Notwithstanding – it’s good to see it up for sale and getting sold, even if it is a little blurred.  More of it please.

  17. Jules Jones says:

    [reads linked blog post]

    [runs over to Amazon to add to wish list for later]

    And I could have missed this through publisher stupidity. Thank you, Oh Smart Bitches…

  18. Forget the heroine.  Better yet, kill her.  I’m sure she’s bee-ooo-ti-ful and spunky and sublimely sensual and all that happy horseshit

    No, she’s cynical, past her prime, and too horny for her own good: in other words, a keeper.

    I’ve already had an official RT review and an amazon review (“I am not a prude but…”) all bent out of shape because they didn’t get what the cover promised. Many thanks for spreading the word.

  19. Amy Ruttan says:

    Ooh I am not saying all the gray haired grannies are going to be shocked. The reason I write romance and erotica is because of my little old granny, who one time was stuck in an elevator in Toronto (there’s a newspaper article about it) the techs said “We’ll get you out of there mame” and she said “No rush I got me a hot novel to keep me company.”

    I just think the RWA needs to have an alternative Erotic category and those who judge that category should not be squeamish.

  20. kis says:

    My granny used to put a notation in the inside cover of every romance she read. “Not so hot.” “V. good.” “Excellent.” “V.v. good read.”

    It was so great for me as a horny teenager, cause all I had to do was find the books with the best granny reviews, and I knew they were the ones filled with hot sex and lots of kink. And everyone thought her husband was the dirty one. 😉

  21. Teddy Pig says:

    Now see Kis you should do up a Granny’s Review site and tell us all about what she thought was hot. I’d read that.

  22. Madeleine says:

    I would read gay guerilla romance in a heartbeat. Mmm.

    Professions of love while waiting to blow up a train? Quickies in the back of cars while evading check points? Longing glances over smuggled weapons? Count me in.

  23. Jules Jones says:

    Madeleine, you’d probably like professionals slash…

    (By coincidence, just been looking at some really yummy Pros slash art.)

  24. Madeleine says:

    The 1966 western? Or the TV show? The TV show does look right up my alley – sounds like a 70s Spooks. With 70s aesthetics. 🙁 But if there’s slash…

  25. Jules Jones says:

    The British TV show from the late 70s. Which I saw at a young age when it was first on (and I’m sure would not have been allowed to see had my parents realised how violent it was) and then did not see again for (mumble) years, by which time I had discovered the wonderful world of slash. Watching it again as an adult was *interesting*.

  26. Madeleine says:

    I am heartbroken to discover that Netflix doesn’t have it. Maybe I can find a download somewhere.

  27. But back to my marketing problem.

    There isn’t a whole lot you can do two weeks before the release. We (agent and I) had expressed our extreme displeasure back in May when we were presented with the cover, and I was advised not to pursue it because I was a relatively unknown author and it would upset the publishing schedule, blah blah.

    So, I had some labels printed up that read:

    some books need a plain brown wrapper
    this is one of them
    Forbidden Shores
    erotic historical romance with a twist

    with my url.

    And some postcards with a pic of a brown paper sack and a sexy flower, with the same text. And magnets. Good old Vistaprint…

    Then I did a quickie mailing to readers’ groups with a cover letter spelling out, again, that it’s an erotic romance with m/m stuff.

    I was at the NJ conference last weekend (and, hey, I saw Sarah’s baby and he’s gorgeous) and handed out brown paper sacks with the label on as loot bags for all the writer tchotchkes. And I’m getting word out online as much as I can, given that I could not possibly agree with some of the dreadful things people have said about my publishers, tsk tsk.

    So if you’d like any postcards to distribute to your friends, let me know.

  28. Jen C says:

    Neither blurb makes the book sound like my particular bag,* but I would totally buy a book with “Ass-Pirates” written on the cover, in any and all contexts. 

    *Pirates.  Blech.

  29. I knew there was a book I didn’t manage to grab in New Jersey!

      Now I’ll just have to pry it out of my neighborhood B&N. 

    keep28, indeed!


  30. Heidi says:


    Ass Bandits, Ass Pirates, put either on a promotional item and send it to me and I’ll hand it out! Don’t think I won’t! If I can walk up to my children’s Christian-based school, holding Lisa Marie Rice’s DANGEROUS LOVER in my hand with the place held with my finger here in conservative Texas, I can hand out suggestive literature 😉 I do enjoy the man on that cover, I must say.

    Or better yet, I’ll let my 3 year old who is currently boycotting clothing at home hand it out. Who better to hand it out than a fellow bandit himself? ACK!

    And damn those publishers. The cover looks like it could go on a cruise with the grey-haired set 🙂

  31. Chicklet says:

    Ms. Lockwood, you are handling this situation like a total pro. I’m going to make sure to buy Forbidden Shores over the weekend, and let your publisher know (respectfully!) that I think they did a disservice to your book.

  32. Teddypig says:

    Jane Lockwood sold me a copy.

    I just want it for the retro cover.
    I mean honestly you could not buy the mess-ups this good. I mean they went all out to really do wrong but it is sooo good.

    She wins for the most talked about book of the year. I think she knows it too.

    Lemons to lemonade in 5 seconds flat.

  33. Becky says:

    I picked this up last night.  A big clue to what’s in the book is the fact that it’s trade sized.  Most erotic romances seem to be published in this size.

    Colette Gale blurbing the book is another clue for those familiar with her work.

  34. Kaitou says:

    Well, posting about it here was a good step to getting the word out.  I bought a copy yesterday, and I certainly wouldn’t have given it a second glance before.

    I have to admit, though, that I was underwhelmed by the actual book.  There was an excellent plot hidden under all the great heaping gobs of sex, but it hardly ever got to come out and play.  And the end felt both like a cop out, and that it didn’t actually resolve anything.  Another 10~20K of words would have fleshed the story out nicely.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s sexy as all getout.  I just look for more story in my books.

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