Yesterday after work, I went for a walk with Henry. This is Henry, right after his first grooming.

Isn't he adorable?

The days when authors didn’t have to do promo are long gone. I’m not complaining; learning to promote my book has been good for me. It’s sometimes overwhelming, though, and the last thing I felt like doing last night was writing another blog about my new release, Sunrise in a Garden of Love and Evil. So I took Henry and my tired brain for a walk in the hope of finding something to say.

There’s no doubt about it, Georgia’s beautiful in the springtime. Ornamental trees are flowering their hearts out. My camellia bush is bowed down with crimson blossoms, and petals are piling up on the grass around it. Violets and daffodils are everywhere. I skirted a neighbor’s lawn which was dotted with dandelions -- some still in bloom, some puffballs. I admit to a childish urge to cavort when I see a lawn covered with those cheerful yellow flowers.

I love trees and flowers, but I’m no gardener. It was a kind of wishful thinking when I made my vampire heroine a landscaper. (She’s a hereditary, living, breathing vampire, so sun isn’t a problem.) I suppose her profession and the southern setting (Bayou Gavotte, a funky little imaginary town just north of New Orleans) are what inspired the artist to put that gorgeous magnolia on the cover.

But setting the story aside for a minute, if you saw that cover in a bookstore, what would you think was in the story? What does it conjure up for you?

Covers these days are supposed to conjure something up, but it wasn’t always like that. Last fall, I visited the Merril Collection of the Toronto Public Library. It’s a non-circulating collection of sci-fi, speculative fiction, fantasy, and related non-fiction. They have some pretty cool books there. My friend Mary showed me (if memory serves me accurately) a first edition, second printing of Dracula. The cover (again, hopefully my memory serves) is a sort of dull mustardy color. There's no artwork at all. Maybe it was a little brighter when it first came out, but regardless, the cover gives no hint at all of what’s inside. OMG. What a great surprise for the person who opened it up and began to read!

Do you like surprises, or do you prefer covers that give you a very good idea what’s inside?

(Incidentally... One person who comments will win a signed copy of Sunrise in a Garden of Love and Evil. Also, every single commenter will be entered in the month-long contest I'm holding on my website, with signed books and other stuff  as prizes. Check out the Contact page at for details.)


  1. Donnell // April 2, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

    Barbara, I love your cover, and maybe it's because I'm reading the ARC, but it's capturing the essence of your story. I think the cover combined with a bag cover blurb will lead to tons of sales for you. Congrats!

  2. Donnell // April 2, 2010 at 9:54 AM  

    Sigh no coffee,,, back cover blurb ;)

  3. Anita Clenney // April 2, 2010 at 9:56 AM  

    I'm like you, I love trees and flowers, but I'm definitely not a gardener. I can't remember to water anything. I love the concept of a vampire gardener. Awesome!

    I will buy a book based on the cover. For me, it should capture a certain essence of the story. I'll look at the cover first. If that catches my attention, then I'll check out the blurb, and if it matches, I'll go for it. If the blurb isn't quite what the cover promises, but the cover is spectacular, then I might get it anyway.

    As to this cover. I love the delicate flower, white on black background, which tells me there's a contrast. Dark and light. All isn't well in this world, and that's what we want, conflict. And the little drop of blood is very appealing. Mysterious. Deadly. Beauty and danger.

    I'm curious if you had any say on the cover. My first release, Awaken the Warrior, doesn't come out until next year and I'm already wondering what kind of cover they'll come up with. And I'm soooo dreading promotion.

    Yes, Henry is adorable.

  4. Judy // April 2, 2010 at 10:31 AM  

    I have to comment on Henry, first, because that's what caught my eye first. He's adorable... just about as cute as my dachshund, Winston! :) To answer your question, I'm very visual, so I definitely am intrigued by good book covers. When the story line promises as good a story as the picture, I'm hooked into checking it out. Thanks for the good post!

  5. Barbara Monajem // April 2, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

    Donnell - I've been thinking of having tote bags made, so maybe there will be a bag blurb someday soon. ;)

  6. Barbara Monajem // April 2, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

    Anita - Congrats on your first release! Tell us something about it, please.

    I didn't really have a lot of say re the cover. All I told my editor was that I wasn't too crazy about covers dominated by naked male torsos. (Not that I don't like male torsos, but to me they don't say much that isn't already expected in a paranormal romance. Hunky hero? Check. Sex scenes? Check. Tell me something MORE.)

    I dreaded promo, too, but I had lots of time to prepare, so I got myself used to blogging, joined Facebook (which has been great for keeping up with old friends, so I'm glad I did it for other reasons than promo), sent out bookmarks to tons of stores, said yes to every interview request... and so on. I got a bit hysterical now and then, but it's not so bad if you take it one day at a time.

    Nobody seems to know what works and what doesn't, though!

  7. Barbara Monajem // April 2, 2010 at 10:56 AM  

    Judy - Henry needs a friend. I wish you and Winston lived next door!

  8. Mary Marvella // April 2, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

    Morning, Barbara!

    I love covers that make me curious. Yours certainly does. If a cover makes me curious, I scan the back cover blurb.

    Love the adorable Henry. My daughter's dogs would think he's a toy.

    How do you like working with an editor? Do you argue about things he wants you to do?

  9. Joelle Charbonneau // April 2, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

    I think the cover is eyecatching, which is really what you need. This one will get readers to pick it up and flip it over. Then the story will pull them in.

    Give Henry a pat for me:) Happy Release Day! I am so excited for you.

  10. Nightingale // April 2, 2010 at 1:43 PM  

    Your cover is beautiful. What it conjurs? A vampire story. Or a dark tale of Savannah or Charleston. It sort of reminds me of the lovely Twilight covers. That's a compliment as they are really very well done. I hope I win! :-)

  11. Joanne // April 2, 2010 at 5:48 PM  

    What an adorable dog! Sometimes quiet walks can recharge our tired brain.
    BTW, I love your cover. It will make a reader pause and pick it up.

  12. Barbara Monajem // April 2, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

    Mary - My editor is charming, easy-going, and nearly always right. Does that answer your question?

  13. Barbara Monajem // April 2, 2010 at 8:44 PM  

    Joelle - Thanks! Consider Henry duly patted.

    Nightingale - I think that black/red combo is being used a lot for vampire covers these days!

    Joanne - Apparently, exercise is vital to brain health, so I'm very glad Henry forces me to take a walk.

  14. Mary Ricksen // April 2, 2010 at 8:45 PM  

    Hi Barbara, great post for the blog. You have a fabulous imagination! I love it. And I wish you the very best, along with tons of book sales.
    Just don't forget us!
    I love to be in the garden, plants are fabulous!

  15. Dayana // April 2, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

    Henry is adorable, Barbara, and I too love your cover! I am a gardner and have many orchids as well a beautiful Angel Trumpet, roses, amaryllis, and assorted other beauties. In fact, I am in the midst of garden restructure and cleanup, LOL

    Incidently, your books looks very interesting and maybe my luck will change, if not I look forward to placing your title on my wishlist.


  16. Dayana // April 2, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

    Oh and the cover says to me blood, flowers, possibley dark love. It grabs my attention and I would definitely pick it off a shelf and check it out further.

    New Orleans, gardening and vampire get my interest imediately. SOLD!


  17. Scarlet Pumpernickel // April 2, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

    Oh, he's so cute! All dressed up and ready to take mommie for a walk. We have a Pomeranean that prances and struts when she comes home for the groomers. You cover is thought provoking and yes, the drop of blood does lead the mind down the right path. I think it's a great eye catcher. I would pick it up based on the cover.

  18. Mary Marvella // April 3, 2010 at 4:07 PM  

    You answered my question well.
    Are we really ready to let someone else tell us what's wrong with our books? We must be!

  19. Toni V.S. // April 3, 2010 at 5:27 PM  

    I think the single magnolia with that spot of blood is striking and beautifully understated. A beautiful flower...and the disturbing splotch...something is definitely wrong in that garden.

  20. J K Maze // April 3, 2010 at 10:24 PM  

    Wow! I love the idea of a gardening vampire. It's different. The title of your book is intriguing - a must read.

    To answer your question, I like a combination of both, something to indicate what the book is about and at least a tidbit to titilate. Guess that means I want to have my cake and eat it too.


  21. Barbara Monajem // April 5, 2010 at 8:03 AM  

    And the winner is:

    JK Maze!!

    Joan, I see from your profile that you have a website, so I will contact you there.