Monday, April 16, 2007

What is in a name? Or a cover? Or a title? Or back cover copy?

I have offered myself up totally to the marketing machine at Harlequin.

My name was constructed by a group of editors at a meeting. Molly is my name, but my last name is Fader and when starting out writing romantic comedy they didn't think "Fader" sounded romantic or funny. The asked me for a list of alternatives, all of which they poo pooed and in the end they came up with O'Keefe. And I agreed - totally fine with that.

Every book I have written I submit with a working title and it gets changed. This happens for just about everyone. But my book out in July which I called Jigsaw Hearts - will be called Undercover Protector. My husband upon hearing this said - "like a jock strap?" My mom said "like a condom?"

Neither connotation is very promising in terms of sales - but again - I've got to think Harlequin knows what it is doing. They've sold trillions of books - They know better than I that a book I called "Always Kiss Me Goodnight," will sell tons more as "His Best Friend's Baby." Or that "Things Best Remembered" will fly off the shelves much faster as "Baby Makes Three."

I hope.

For every book Harlequin asks it's writers to fill out Art Fact Sheets. A very long questionnaire about our characters, their ages, appearance, back ground, thematic qualities and occupations. These questionnaires are all on line and consist of drop down menus that are hilarious. I look forward to maybe writing a book with a character whose occupation is "billionaire" or "Prince".

Another part of these forms requires the author to come up with a bunch of scenes that she thinks would make a great cover. We are supposed to describe the mood, location, time of day and weather. Apparently we can even download pictures to help the artists better create our covers - I've never done this - because, again, I have totally given myself up to the marketing machine. They know, right? Covers with toothy smiley kids sell. Covers with creepy men who don't look old enough to to be the father of the preteen age girl they are standing with - sell.

For whatever reasons - laziness. Stupidity. Not wanting to rock the boat. Being just too damn busy to pester anyone or get involved - I have not protested any titles or covers and I think I've done okay with what I've been given. Though the cover of Family At Stake really does look creepy to me. And I've just gotten the cover for my July book - and it's the best yet. I think they've finally figured out a mix that will work with the new tone of Superromance. The covers are very romantic, less iconic or symbolic (which the authors loved, but readers didn't buy) but they are different, in a good way. BUT - compared with some of the other covers for that month namely Darlene Gardener and Tara Taylor Quinn - I've seriously been hosed. There are covers and there are COVERS.

Now, it's been a long time since I've picked up a book based on anything besides the name of the author or the rave reviews someone gives it. But take a look at some of the covers coming up and let me know which books you'd pick up based on covers alone.

Be honest.


Margaret Moore said...

Yes, the Quinn cover is very nice, but so is yours. I like the leather jacket, the motorcycle -- dangerous rogue material! And I like that they're not facing each other -- that's different.

I get to put "lady," "chatelaine," "medieval knight" or "overlord" on my AFS. :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

I really like your new cover, Molly. (Will have to get the image up on the sidebar of the blog...) And while I hear you about slight pedophile undertones for the Family at Stake cover... That's the book that won you all the accolades last year. And really... the title Family at Stake, totally changes that image, and makes people think, father/daughter. Now, if a book with that image was called, Pleasing Teacher, or My Favorite Babysitter, or My Uncle My Lover, that would be another matter altogether. LOL
Harlequin does seem to know what they're doing.

Molly O'Keefe said...

My Uncle MY Lover -- OMG - can't stop laughing! Muscles hurting....

Overlord - now that is an occupation!

Maureen McGowan said...

Do you want me to do your titles from now on?

Sinead M said...

Maureen gets to do all of our titles from now on.
Molly, if you don't take the uncle title, I'm claiming it.

I love the new book cover. It's your best yet, and the colours are great.

Abby said...

Really? I think the guy on the Quinn cover is dorky. And I am really confused by the title "The Other Woman's Son." Huh? That sort of suggests a Mrs. Robinson thing to me.

I never thought the Family at Stake cover was creepy, Molly. More that the girl on the cover was NOTHING like the character in the book. A sweet, wholesome thing with barettes?

Harlequin has their hits and misses, but trust them. Especially Superromance. They know how to make you want to pick up a book.

And I like the new cover. Honestly.

Christine said...

I like your new cover Molly. But not looking at the names at all, Quinn's cover stands out.

I just got my cover and had two reactions: 1. I can't let me grandmother see this and 2. It doesn't let the reader know it's a futuristic romance.

When I showed my editor she said the same thing, but added it was hot and that's what will sell. Since I don't know the first thing about cover or marketing, I'll smile and nod.

Plus it is hot and I'll never say no to that. :)

Molly O'Keefe said...

Christine! I love your cover - very hot! And hot is what sells! I think it looks awesome.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a reader who goes by covers but since you asked...I thought they were okay. The only one I thought was creepy was the one where they profiled the rope coil.


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