Monday, June 25, 2007


Covers can be heaven or hell for an author. Sometimes we scream blue murder and our friends and family clearly thing we’re nuts. To them it appears perfectly okay. Only another author can ever understand that this cover that had been appended to a book that is like a baby to us, is ALL WRONG. That it does not fit our “vision” of what the characters are like. Sometimes has nothing to do with the story we wrote.

Titles can be like that, too.

THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY GABRIELLA, for instance, was a “marketing experiment”. Harlequin, aware of the snickers of derision that titles such as “The Gazillionaire Boss’s Virgin Mistress” (I just made that up!) evoke from people who just don’t “get it”, have been trying to ease back on those “hooky” titles.

It was a nice try.

To be honest I think it sounds more like an historical romance (and I’ve had half dozen titles of my own shot down for that very reason). Obviously that’s not going to be problem for anyone who sees the book on the shelf. But I do wonder about people who just see the title online and think “Okay, Liz has written an historical, I’ll come back when she’s thinking straight...”

I’d have called it THE SECRET LIFE OF ELLIE MARCH, which does all of the above, but is truer to the book, since Lady Gabriella is the “fantasy” – the secret life. But marketing, bless them, unable to quite let go, tried to sneak in the “princess”, just in case. It’s that wanting it all, thing. Innovative, new, fresh – but let’s stick in an aristocrat, just in case in all goes pear-shaped.

It was a kind thought, but it doesn’t work. As any Mills & Boon heroine could tell them, you have to be fearless. You may take a tumble – and in this case it’s the author that pays; no one sacks the marketing guy if the book doesn’t sell – but you have to be brave.

The reviews were great, everyone who read the book and wrote to me, loved it. But the jury is still out on sales figures and I’m afraid that the readers might just have been plain confused. The one thing that the great Charlotte Lamb taught me, is that you have to keep it simple. Let the reader know what’s going on. And that goes for the title, too. At least with “The Gazllionaire Boss’s Virgin Mistress” you can have absolutely no doubts!

But while titles are a continuing problem for both authors and marketing, there’s really no excuse for getting the heroines mixed up. Coming up in August is the Secrets We Keep trilogy I wrote with Barbara Hannay and Jackie Braun. I’ve already mentioned my confusion over the fact that my heroine, Belle Davenport, appears on my cover with long brown hair when, in fact, she starts out as a “bombshell” blonde and then has her hair cut and re-coloured to something more along the lines of “tawny”. Cut. So that would be short tawny.

Well, Jackie’s just received her October book. She was delighted with the cover – all three are very pretty -- except she couldn’t understand why her heroine has short, um, tawny hair. Probably only us authors will notice that somehow – in the art department – our heroines have switched places.


And in case you’re not already tuned into the fact that both Kate Walker and Kate Hardy are throwing blog parties (with prizes!) to celebrate the publication of their 50th and 25th book, respectively, do check them out.


ROME. Are you watching this? I’m loving it, but my enjoyment is being sadly undermined by the dh, who just sits there saying “No. This is wrong. It didn’t happen like this...” Honestly. As if. This is blood, sex and feuding females. Dallas (or do I mean Dynasty?) BC. On Wednesday he gets sent to bed early with Seneca.

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