Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Power Of One Amazing Reader

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Last week, I posted on my personal blog about the upcoming cover for the Large Print edition of Bookplate Special.

Bookplate_Special.sm2 Ah...Bookplate Special. It holds a pretty special place in my heart.  I got to write about some pretty uncozy things that I feel are important, things like recycling, food pantries and the working poor, and even an embarrassing medical condition.  Several readers accused me of having an AGENDA for the first two topics.  (I've yet to figure out how being a good citizen of the Earth and helping people in need constitutes any kind of agenda, but -- WHATEVER -- and if they decide not to read any more of my books because of it, "So long, and thanks for all the fish!")

When I received the cover for Bookplate Special I was absolutely THRILLED.  Except for Miss Marple being outside (she's strictly an indoor cat, as are all my real cats--but then it's important to the Marketing Dept. to have her on the cover), it's absolutely perfect.  My cover artist, Teresa Fasolino, is superb.  (Man, would I love to own the original painting of that cover.)  But, as usual, I digress.

BS-LPedition So naturally I was a teensy bit upset when I saw the Large-Print cover.  It was dark, it was scary (I mean, a skull and crossbones right next to the words "recipes included" would not make me want to eat any of the food mentioned in the book).  It didn't say cozy mystery to me.  I wasn't happy, and I shared that unhappiness with my blog readers.

Mind you, I have one goal:  TO SELL BOOKS.  The cover up on Amazon
wasn't going to do the trick.

To be honest, I didn't think there was anything that could be done about the cover, but one of my Guppy Sisters in Crime, a former editor, encouraged me to write and ask if something could be done it.  I have no contacts at Wheeler (an imprint of Cengage, the parent company), but I did write two books for one of Cengage's imprints, FIVE STAR.  I wrote to my editor and asked about changing the cover, reminding her that this book spent three weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list, and was now an Agatha nominee.  (Okay, I was bragging a little--but as I said, this book is SPECIAL to me, and I wanted it to have a nice send off in Large Print, too.)

I expected nothing to happen.  I figured I'd just move on, and in fact had a lot more on my mind than the cover once I'd sent off that email.  (Hey, I've got a hubby with a new knee and a sick cat to take care of, not to mention a synopsis that was due and a book that's falling behind.)

I'd been out of the house for 10 hours when I finally got a chance to check my email on Wednesday night, and one note in particular jumped at me (or, at least the subject line did).  It was a note from a fan, a very happy fan, of Bookplate Special.  She happens to be a librarian, and somehow she figured out who to write at the publisher and request that someone look at the cover and perhaps do something about it.

They changed it.  (Honest!!!)

I couldn't believe the power of one reader.  (Although the editor at Cengage who wrote to me did say she'd read my blog entry, as well.)  The thing is, I had no idea this reader would try to contact the publisher.  I never expected a reader to go to bat for me.  It was such a wonderful surprise, and the lovely letter I received from the publisher was heartening, as well.  Not only that, but she said they'd just bought the large print rights to CHAPTER & HEARSE, and that she would pay special attention to that cover, too.  Whoopie!

Barbie Logo Am I pleased with this new cover?  You better believe it, baby.  THIS COVER WILL SELL BOOKS.  It's cute!  It's says, COZY MYSTERY.  It shows a stylized view of Angelica's cafe, Booked For Lunch.  My eyes immediately zeroed in on the silhouette of the woman with the pony tail and something in my mind screamed:  BARBIE!  Barbie, having a sundae at Booked For Lunch! I love Barbie!  (I have since I was a kid.)  Barbie on the cover is going to net me a LOT of readers of "a certain age," which is exactly the demographic you shoot for with a large-print book.

Besides, that, though, it's just a lovely, cheerful cover.  If I had no idea of the book's outcome, this cover would still say to me, "You're going to feel good reading this book."  There are some serious topics included in the book, but there's also a happy ending--or at least a happy end chapter.  (I don't know about you, but I love happy endings.)

And I'm so pleased that this saga of the Bookplate Special large print cover has a happy ending, too.  And I have one reader to thank:  Mary Fairchild.

Thanks, Mare, you're the best.

So, what do you think of the new cover?