Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Cover, Your First Thousand Words

Thanks so much to Heroines with Hearts for having me here today!

A picture is worth how many words? (All together now ☺)

The cover is the reader’s first impression of your book. Its purpose is to catch her attention, and promises the kind of story inside. It gives a sense of what the book is about—not the whole story, as too many elements muddle the cover.
Covers happen in different ways. Here’s my journey for Biting Me Softly, art by the incomparable Natalie Winters.

First I submitted an art request through my editor. The request is a publisher-designed form that asks things like title, genre, time period and setting. It also asks for descriptions of the hero and heroine, a short summary of the story, and any author ideas, my chance to have input. Using a stock photography site, I found a perfect picture for hero Logan and included the link. My editor reviewed my request and forwarded it with her additions and changes to Natalie.

Natalie combined elements of my story (heroine Liese is a computer geek so the 010101 wallpaper is computer binary code) and my series (the bats flying up from the bottom left suggest vampire) with a truly spectacular pose of model Sam Bond to create a draft cover called the cover comp.

I loved the cover comp the minute I saw it. Although my publisher lets me give feedback, I didn’t have any changes—the cover is a significant investment in time and money and though sometimes changes are necessary (as when another cover uses the same pose) it’s important to have as much defined upfront as possible.
After my editor and I approved the art, it went to the publisher. The publisher has to consider things like fit with other releasing titles and overall impact, and knows what reaches readers best.

In the end, it’s all about reaching the reader with your story. The cover is simply your first 1000-word step.

Biting Me Softly is in bookstores around the US, and I’m celebrating by having a giveaway! Just comment on this post to enter. For a second chance, let me know the city or bookstore where you’ve seen Softly! Through May 29, 2011. --Adults only please. Winner will receive choice of Biting Me Softly in paperback (if U.S. or Canada) or one of Bite My Fire, Biting Nixie, The Bite of Silence or Biting Me Softly in ebook.

Biting Me Softly
He’s a candy box of sex appeal wrapped with a golden bow. She’s on a diet.

Blood, sex, violence. Blood, okay, but computer geek Liese Schmetterling had enough S&V when her cheating ex fired her. Now security expert—and lip-smacking gorgeous—Logan Steel saunters into her Blood Center, setting fire to her libido. And threatening her job.

Visions of pink slips dancing in her head, Liese tries to push Logan away without touching his jutting pecs…or ridged abs. Or petting the Vesuvius in his jeans. He’s hiding something, but it doesn’t seem to matter when his smiles stun her, his kisses crank her to broiling and his bites rocket her to heaven. Fangy bites which, if she weren’t grounded in science, would make her think ampire-Vay.

Centuries old and tragedy-scarred, Logan’s mission is to fortify the Blood Center’s electronic defenses against his nemesis, the leader of a rogue vampire gang. He’s ready for battle but not for Liese, who slips under his skin, laughs at his awful puns, charges beside him into dark, scary places—and tastes like his true love.
No matter how often Logan declares his love, Liese can’t bring herself to trust him. But when his archenemy comes after her, not trusting him may cost her life…

Warning: contains explicit vampire sex involving absurdly large male equipment (hey, they’re monsters), unbelievable stamina (just how long can he stay underwater in a hot tub?), hide-your-eyes violence and horrendously bad puns. And, just when you think it can’t get any worse, a computer geekette trying to play Mata Hari.

Buy at Samhain Publishing

Check In Stock at Barnes and Noble

Hugs from Hughes! Bestselling author Mary Hughes is a computer consultant, professional musician, and writer. At various points in her life she has taught Taekwondo, worked in the insurance industry, and studied religion. She is intensely interested in the origins of the universe. She has a wonderful husband (though happily-ever-after takes a lot of hard work) and two great kids. But she thinks that with all the advances in modern medicine, childbirth should be a lot less messy.
To learn more about Mary, please visit


  1. Thanks to Heroines with Hearts for having me here today!

  2. Thanks for being with us today, Mary. It's unfortunate that some people are having problems with leaving comments (a Blogger problem, it seems!)
    Agree that the cover is so important in attracting potential readers to your book. I was so happy when I first got mine.
    Although I'm not normally a fan of vampires, yours sounds like a lot of fun. Good luck with it.

  3. Thanks for sharing how covers come about, Mary! So much goes into a story before we readers get it; it's fun to hear some of the details! And it is truly wonderful when the cover captures the essence of the story--some of those are truly amazing art!

  4. Hi Mary, glad you could stop by today! Your cover is gorgeous and I love the premise of your story. It's so gratifying when the cover fits your vision of the story, isn't it?

  5. Thanks for sharing how a cover is done. Very interesting process and I think that the cover is very important for a reader.

    Your covers have been awesome.

  6. Hi Paula! Thank you for your warm welcome, and congratulations on your June release of His Leading Lady! That's an awesome cover!

    Hey flchen1! Thanks for stopping by! Great point, about the art being art. It's true, besides being a hook for the story, the cover is composition and colors and takes a real artist to do.

    Hi Jennifer! Thanks for your welcome and the kind words on my cover. And congrats to you on your upcoming release, A Heart of Little Faith!

    Hey Harlie! Thanks for the kind words! :) I've been fortunate, having Natalie do all my covers. I definately agree with your observation about covers being important to readers. As a reader, it's the cover that first attracts me to a new author, along with title.

  7. A great cover will definitely get my attention, and I love the covers that Natalie creates.

    This is such a fun series, and a great combo of humor, suspense and romance.

    Happy holiday everyone.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com
    cathy m

  8. Mary,

    I'm soooo glad you had a hand in this gorgeous covere! I mean, I've totally bonded with Logan, the man on the cover...Okay, okay. I KNOW the model's not Logan, but when I read Biting Me Softly, you can bet he will be in my head! =D


  9. So glad I didn't miss this chance to win! Thanks for the insight into the first 1000 words. Heck, I can't get past the first 500!
    I love this cover. Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. Hey Cathy! Natalie does make cover art that grabs you, she's very talented. Thanks for visiting and your kind words, and happy holidays to you too!

    Hey, Renee! Oh, me too...I had a mental picture of Logan when I wrote him, but the model totally blew it away :D Thanks for stopping by!

    Hi, Anonymous! Thanks for reading, and your nice comment!

    Hey Jen! First five hundred takes us...about mid-pec? LOL! Thanks for visiting and your great comments!

  11. It's exciting and inspiring to hear about book covers and the stories inside them--especially when the stories are written by friends. Thanks for sharing.


  12. Thanks for sharing about the covers. That's fascinating.

  13. Hey Brenda! Great to see you here! Thanks for your wonderful comments!

    Hi Donna! Thanks for reading and your kind words!

  14. Thanks for giving us a peek into the cover creation process! I've just finished Bite My Fire and Biting Nixie, and I'm hooked! When does Thor get his HEA?

  15. Hi Annique! And thank you for your music-to-my-ears comments! Ooh, Thorvald...good question! The next three books are planned out but I look to getting his story on the board soon!

  16. Many warm thanks again to Heroines with Hearts for having me visit. I had so much fun here!

    And thanks to everyone who read my blogs on this tour, and commented. You rock!

    And the winner of this Biting Me Softly In Stores giveaway, picked by random number is -- Harlie Reader! Congratulations Harlie! Please email me at for your prize.

  17. isn't a bad book, but I don't like it after all.