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! 

BookplateSpecial.sm 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?

32 comments:

Andrea C. said...

Aww...it is such a pure joy when someone you don't know does something so wonderful and unexpected for you! Yay for Mary and Yay for the revamped large print cover (which is super cute!)

Mare F said...

Thank you for all the wonderful words. I just did what we've all talked about....contacting the publisher to let them know that we enjoy an author and series so that we get to keep reading the series as for as long as the AUTHOR chooses to write it. I was just as shocked as you that they changed it, but I'm happy that you like it and I'm glad to see that it does matter if you contact the publisher. While it may always have results like this I plan on telling the publishers about every book I love from here on in.

Kaye said...

Fantastic! I would never ever have picked up the skull and crossbones cover. Never! I did however pick up the Book Plate Special with the original cover and I really liked it.

Carol Brown said...

YAY!!!

Helen Kiker said...

What a dramatic improvement!! Large Print readers are most often seniors and they would not have picked up the original cover.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

What a great story! And I love the new cover..it's a cozy cover!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

MOLLYC said...

Just found your blog. I can't wait to read your books! I blog also; but humor http://tinyurl.com/ykdezsf

Dru said...

What a difference in the two large-print book covers. I love the new cover.

Chanda Keith said...

The new cover is fantastic! Now that's going to make it easy for the readers to know what your book's about. I love it!

Mason Canyon said...

Love the new cover. A thanks from this reader to Mary Fairchild for her undertaking.

Ingrid King said...

Thank goodness they changed the cover! I love the original cover, everything about that is just so perfect. The new cover is cute -what a vast improvement over the skulls and crossbones. What were they thinking?!

Carol Clayton said...

All right! Kudos to Mare and Lorraine, both! The new cover is, indeed, far more appealing.

Leann Sweeney said...

Such a great improvement and the power of two wonderful people--Lorraine and Mare--are a force to be reckoned with. I have amazing friends. :-)

Kathryn Lilley said...

Great new cover, and thanks for being willing to share your behind-the-scenes negotiation with your publisher. Other authors will be able to learn from your experience. Cheers, Kathryn

Anonymous said...

Lorna, this is the nicest story. And so encouraging to you as an author and even to us as readers. Our vote counts and we can make small changes in things that we feel passioinate about.

OK, I will confess, I haven't read your series yet, but I promise it's in the queue! I know I will love it. As to the covers, well, I don't mind a dark mystery and so I would have picked up the first cover to peruse. However, I know I would have thought it was poor planning because I think covers are really important. The second one is great. And you're right, Barbie is sitting there. She looks like grown-up professional Barbie, but she has a ponytail like my first Barbie did.

Take care and I wish you all success! And big kudos to the librarian who took the time to give her opinion to the publisher.

Lover of Books said...

oh my gosh that is so cool! I loved that they changed it since typically you don't have much input in your covers. Got to love that one reader. She rocks!

Krista

Krista said...

Mare, you're the one with the power to get covers changed? I tip my hat to you!

Great cover, Lorna. I hope the publisher will realize that a lot of us aren't crazy about the covers on our large print books. Though I thought they did a great job with The Diva Takes the Cake!

~ Krista

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

Mare - you rule! And the new cover is fantastic. :)

Mary Jane Maffini said...

What a happy ending, thanks to that angel of mercy, the marvelous Mare! Now, you'll have two excellent covers for this terrific book, Lorraine.

WonderBunny said...

I love the new cover! I would pick up a book with the new large print vs. the other. Congrats on getting it changed!

Vicki said...

Wow, what a difference! The first cover seemed so dark, and it wouldn't have grabbed my attention as much as the new and improved cover. Love it!

prof m said...

Kudos to your publisher!

Janet Koch said...

I didn't *hate* the first cover, but after seeing the great second cover, I realized how right you were. Cover #2 is on target; cover #1 was aiming at some tree in the back 40.

How fun to have a reader take up the charge for you :) Congratulations!

Jennifer in Minnesota said...

I'm so happy this was changed. I'm used to seeing the regular type versions of your books and that's what drew me to pick it up from my library and have been reading every book since. Upon seeing the darker large print cover...I would have passed on it and probably missed out on a fun book. I know we shouldn't "judge a book by it's cover", but sometimes I do.

Laurie said...

Wow! I guess this just goes to show that the suits-that-be really DO listen to the written word. What a GREAT story and outcome! A tip of the hat and a big round of applause to Mary Fairchild!!

You are SOOO right, Lorraine, the new and improved cover is MUCH more likely to pull readers in. (After being gently prodded with a nerf bat, the publishers seemed to have gotten that ka-ching! idea, too. More power to them.) The new cover is brighter, perkier, more inviting, and -- as you pointed out -- has BARBIE in it! Congrats, congrats, and congrats!!

signlady217 said...

The new cover definitely fits the genre better, that's for sure! Although I would have picked up the other one to read, too, but not as a cozy. Of course, I read just about anything I can get my hands on, so I may not be the best judge.

Heather Webber said...

LOVE the new cover--it's perfect. Mare, you rock!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Love love LOVE the new cover, Lorna! What an amazing story.

Kaye George said...

Much nicer! I'd say you're lucky to have a reader like Mare, but your talent and hard, hard work have everything to do with having the readers you deserve.

VERY nice!!!

Christine Hammar said...

Thank goodness your publisher changed the cover! Kudos to them and to Mary Fairchild. Congrats to you!

Avery Aames said...

Chiming in late, but I love the new cover, Lorna! So cheery. ~Avery Aames

Mr. Hendrix said...

I love it! Congrats on your success in getting it changed to one you love.