Monica Burns Guest Author and Book Giveaway

I’m thrilled to have the extraordinary Monica Burns guest blogging here today! Not only is she providing fabulous information on a few key marketing elements of paranormal romance novels (and books in general)-  she and her publisher, Berkley Sensation, are giving away a copy of Assassin’s Heart! (The cover alone gives me a fever!)  So please, leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you for mailing details if you’re the lucky winner!

Now, without further ado…Heeere’s Monica!

Hi everyone, I’m happy to be here chatting books on Regan’s blog. Regan and I met in St. Louis several years ago at an RT convention. We sat across the aisle from each other at the book signing, throwing candy back and forth at each other. Or maybe it was one way with me feeding Regan because she hadn’t eaten, I think! LOL Anyway, so when she invited me to blog I thrilled and honored by her request. So thanks to her for the invite as I’m really happy to be posting on her blog about my newest release in the Order of the Sicari series, Assassin’s Heart.

I didn’t want to do just another blog about Assassin’s Heart or why I’d like you to buy the book. I thought it might be fun to talk titles, covers, and blurbs. These are three of the most powerful marketing tools publishers and authors have when it comes to selling a book. Each one is designed to entice a reader into buying the book. More specifically, a book by an author the reader is unfamiliar with. If a reader isn’t intrigued by all three of these tools to at least pick up the book and skim the first few pages (OR for those of you naughty enough – the last few pages), then the moment of opportunity has passed, and it’s doubtful the book will sell to readers who aren’t familiar with the author.

So let’s take a look at what goes into those three elements. First the cover—note the cover of Assassin’s Heart here. It’s got a hot looking hero, wearing a seductive red shirt, and in the background you’ve got an ancient temple and a stormy looking background. This cover says I’ve got a hot hero, pick me up, and read my back cover. The cover also hints at the ancient Rome theme running through in the book as the richness of the red is like the color the ancient Roman soldiers used for their ceremonial dress uniforms. It’s subtle, but these things connect with the brain whether we realize it or not.

Now the title—Assassin’s Heart. It says Hot hero who’s a bad boy (Assassin) who has a heart and because it’s a romance, he’s going to lose his heart and be redeemed. The title also draws in the reader because heart equates to love, and even if the book looks unlike a typical romance, it still conveys the message that this is gonna be hot and romantic.

What about the back cover blurb— this is where the reader is supposed to be sucked in enough to either put the book in her TBB stack she’s carrying or at the very least convince the reader to open up the book and read the first few pages of the book. Below is the blurb for Assassin’s Heart.

The truth of the soul.

Lysander Condellarie never understood why he had telepathic and telekinetic powers until the night his Praetorian father tortured him and left him for dead. Now, the half-angelic, half-demonic face he sees in the mirror is a reminder of the monster he must keep hidden or face expulsion from the order of assassins know as the Sicari. But his dreams of Ancient Rome hint at a destiny he finds hard to accept, especially when it involves the woman he loves, but can never have.

The consequences of desire.

A gifted healer in the Order, Phaedra DeLuca witnessed her mother’s murder when she was just a little girl. The haunting memory makes her loathe everything Praetorian. When she travels to Rome in search of an ancient artifact, she must work alongside a man who once cruelly rejected her love and healing touch. But her dreams of Ancient Rome tell of an irreversible and possibly dangerous future. For the distant past and present are about to collide–with the one man she is destined to love.

The blurb above is designed to intrigue the reader, make the potential buyer ask questions, pique their interest so they have to know more. I generally write my own blurbs, and then Berkley’s marketing department modifies them slightly. They do those bolded tags though, I’m lousy at those. However, my blurbs are pretty tight and concise. In other words, what you read in the blurb is pretty much exactly what you’re going to get in the book.

The interesting thing is, most authors generally have little involvement with the creation of these marketing tools (although more and more authors do seem to be writing the blurb copy. We know the book well, so that makes sense). With all of my publishers I’ve provided some form of an art sheet that outlines physical details for the characters and maybe a scene from the book to give the art department something to use for the actual setting. I get the cover sometime later with just that input. Personally, I believe I’ve been blessed with great covers starting with my very first cover at New Concepts Publishing. My Berkley covers are do die for. They just keep getting better and better.

The NCP cover for Obsession is has always been one of my all-time favorite covers, it’s hot, sexy and yet tasteful. But it’s now been supplanted by Pleasure Me, the cover for my February historical. The whole mood of that cover screams sinful, delicious, and promises a hero who is eager to please and yet isn’t going to let the heroine get away with controlling him (note how he’s holding her down with one hand??? OMG – LOVE IT!)

With my titles I’ve had full control of what to name my stories until Berkley. Kismet is the only one so far that I came up with on my own and they used. For all my other books, I’ve submitted a slew suggestions to my wonderful editor, and she’ll pick out a few that might work, which we then chat about in emails back and forth. She’s got a terrific feel for what works best with my books, and I love the way every title meshes well with the book.

When it comes to my book blurbs, I tend to have a knack for cover blurbs. When I create a proposal, I build the cover blurb first and then expand on that blurb in my synopsis and then I write the book. The cover blurb is pretty strong, and to date, Berkley has used every one I’ve written with some minor changes to a couple of lines in the copy. But as I said before the tag lines they develop. I do tend to be the exception to the rule when it comes to cover blurbs as most authors I know offer up something, but the copy edit department rewrites what they submit.

So this is the pretty much the way authors are involved in the creation of titles, blurbs, and covers. It will depend on the publisher, the author and a host of other factors as to how much, if any, input an author has on their book’s marketing. I will say that the marketing departments generally know what works in terms of readers tastes. When I first saw the cover to Assassin’s Heart I hated it. I thought the green was a terrible color, and they didn’t show any of Lysander’s scars. Not even his eye patch!!! The cover didn’t look like I’d envisioned Lysander at all. Then I showed the cover to a few readers and they went ga-ga over the cover. They thought it incredibly hot. Clearly I didn’t know as much as I thought when it comes to marketing a book. I’m looking forward to seeing how well Assassin’s Heart flies off the shelves.

What prompts you to pull a book off the shelf at the store? What generally convinces you to buy the book if you’ve never read the author before?

Leave your answer or comment (with your email address) for a chance to win a copy of Assassin’s Heart!

p.s. Don’t miss this fabulous book trailer for Assassin’s Heart!

And buy your copy of Assassin’s Heart from your favorite outlet:  Amazon | B&N | Borders | Powell’s

37 Responses to Monica Burns Guest Author and Book Giveaway

  1. Welcome Monica!

    I have to admit, for me it’s often the cover – and you’ve sure had some amazing covers, but the blurb is what gets me to buy!

    black(dot)regan (at) gmail(dot)com

    P.S. don’t forget to leave your email for the giveaway, and all comments will be posted asap!

    • Aww, Thanks for inviting me here today Regan. You’re such a terrific person, and I’m only sorry we didn’t live closer to each other so we could hang out in person.

      • It would be so great to hang out in person. Hopefully we’ll see each other again soon at another event! I’ll bring the candy!

        • Ok, I want Milky Ways please. If I asked for my absolute fav, you’d go broke in the first hour trying to pay for them. LOL Milk chocolate maple cremes. EXPENSIVE!! but soooo worth the money!

          • oooo, sounds divine! I’ll add a line to the budget and start saving up 😉

  2. Hey Monica,

    Yeah I’d have to say that a hot cover will get me every time. And even though I know that Lysander is scarred with an eyepatch, the sexy guy on the cover just conveys his sexiness! I normally use the cover as a guide for pictureing the characters as I read. So, yes, I will be picturing that hot hunky guy on the covre, but when an added eye patch and scars.

    That said, I have been following your blog tour and have read that you are writing the 3rd book to this series…can you devuldge who it is going to be about? Purdy please with sugar on top!!

    Christy M

    • Christy, thanks for the cover kudos. I’ve definitely been blessed with terrific covers over my career. As for the 3rd book, it’s Cleo and Dante’s story. Cleo has a fairly strong 2ndary character role in Assassin’s Heart, and I love her. She’s totally kickbutt, in your face, honesty. Dante is briefly mentioned in Assassin’s Heart, but isn’t seen, so he’s an unknown quantity to the reader. Turns out he’s a virgin, and Cleo’s bound and determined to seduce him. That is turning out to be fun.

      • Oh that is going to be so HOT! When is is coming out? Amazon better be on the ball getting me Assassin’s Heart!!

      • oh and how many books to you forsee for this series? Many i hope…

        • and i am totally going to order that Assassin’s Honor ornament. are you going to have one for Assassin’s Heart?

          • Christy, Ornament?? Did I talk about something somewhere and mislead you? 🙁 I’m sorry. No plans for an ornament, but I would LOVE that

            At this point, there are only three books contracted for the Sicari series. However if sales are strong, Berkley might be persuaded to pick up more books. So if you have reader friends who might like the book, please recommend. It’s word of mouth that’s an author’s best marketing tool. If readers like the book, they tell others, sales go up, the publisher is happy and asks me to write more. *grin*

            Cleo and Dante’s story is set for relase in October 2011, but I was told that can change. I’m hoping that meant that they might move up the release date if there were more books contracted. It just depends on readers. 😀

  3. Hi Monica,
    This tour is great. So many opportunities. 🙂
    A cover will be the first thing that pulls me in. Then I read the blurbs.
    I have found so many new to me Authors that way. 🙂
    I look forward to reading the Assassin books.
    Carol L.

    • Carol, I’m pretty much the same way. I see a cover that intrigues me, then the blurb sucks me in. Usually I just buy the book at that point, I seldom read the first few pages and NEVER the ending. Although I confess there have been books that I should have read the first few pages because there are some books that just didn’t appeal to me despite the great cover and blurb.

  4. Hi Caridad, Thank you for the cover love and blurb kudos, and I’ll take all the good luck I can get. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  5. Thanks for the giveaway!
    I by a book if I have good stuff about it or read a review, but mostly the cover decides if a buy it or not. The cover must be appealing!

  6. I admit it: I’m a cover whore but I wouldn’t buy a book not just cuz of a good cover. I usually check goodreads and look for friends and their reviews. If there aren’t any I look at what everyone else said but the chance I will buy it is slim when I don’t see any really good reviews. Yes, I’m practical like that. Need to keep a close look at the money. In a bookstore I usually buy books I know, I wanted or bargains.

    thegeekybookworm [@] gmail [.] com

    • Susi,

      I’m a lover of covers too. I’m an impulse buyer. If I like the cover, I glance at the blurb and then buy the book. If I’ve read the author before and I didn’t care for the voice, I’ll pass no matter how good the cover or blurb.

      As for reviews, I don’t listen to them unless I know the reader has same tastes as me. My tastes are different from most peeps, so I can’t rely on reviews.

  7. I hate to say this but usually if I like the book cover and don’t know the author then I pull it out the shelf to see if I will like it or not. Then I will read the back blurb and if that sounds good then I will give the book a try.

    • Marjana, I think your reaction to a new author is exactly what marketers go for. I think you’re the average book buyer, which is perfectly fine in my book. 😀

  8. I loved your guest post Monica. I love knowing what goes into the creative process. I Love, Love, Loved Assassin’s Honor. I can’t wait to read Assassin’s Heart which comes out on my birthday (WhooHoo). Thanks for giving me a peek at some of what goes on in your writing career.

    A lot of the times it is the book cover. I might not necessarily like the look of the cover but if it piques my interest I will then read the back cover.

    If upon reading the back of the book it draws me in then I know I have to read that book no matter the review it may have gotten. I read reviews but they do not dictate whether I read a book or not. But if I have read the author before I am more likely to buy one of their books reguardless just because I am already acquainted with their writing style.

    even though it asked for it when I started to write this post I will post it again.

    • Hi Raquel, Glad you enjoyed the post. I’m trying to keep things different on this blog tour. NOT an easy thing to do with 24 blogs! LOL I’m with you on reviews for the most part. I don’t pay heed to them unless they’re reviews of folks who have displayed the same tastes as me in the past.

  9. Hello Monica great post. Thanks for the insight into your world.

    Sometimes the name or the cover if it looks interesting.

    Well, I look to see who has reviewed the book.on the inside cover and especially if it gets a real good review by an author I know or someone who’s opinion or review I trusted.


    • Hi Denise, Glad you enjoyed the read here at Regan’s place. Picking up a book certainly isn’t a science, and I find it interesting that you look at cover quotes. That wasn’t something I ever paid attention to until I started writing for publication eight years ago. Now it does make a diff for me.

  10. Hey Monica,

    There is actually an oval ornament in your cafe press store. it is the book cover for Assassin’s Honor. It is not available? Man that would be just my luck….

    • AHA!! I was really scratching my head at that one Christy! LOL No it’s available. You’re the first reader to mention the Cafe so I’d completely forgotten about it. Too busy writing! LOL But no, it’s available. Although I do need to change the cover art. Unles I upgraded (pay money! LOL) I can only have one cover at a time displayed. So if you want AHonor on the ornament get it soon, I’ll change out the cover here in the near future. Thanks for reminding me!

      • Whew! I will be getting it next week, then! Gotta love pay day!!

  11. I’ll be honest, the first thing about a book that catches my eye is the cover. I love cover art, and it’s endlessly fascinating to see all the different incarnations of the same genre appear. I’m also a huge font geek, so major points if the title font is something completely new to me/fits the book. I skim the back cover blurb, and if the plot hooks me, I read at least the first few pages, to get a feel for the author’s voice. Wow, this makes me sound kind of high maintenance… 😡

    julieguan AT gmail DOT com

  12. Hi Monica –
    At bookstores, I pick up books from the shelf if it’s a book that I know I’m going to buy [such an the continuation of a series]; if I’m familiar with the authors’s name; if it’s an eye-catching/eye-popping or original book cover. I’m likely to buy the book of an author I’ve never read before if I know ahead of time to look for certain books [such as if I’d read blubs/reviews about it]; if the book sounds good from reading the back & inside front cover [but, I usually flip thru the book a bit to make sure it’s going to be something I’d like].

    Your book cover for ‘Assassin’s Heart’ looks divine. I’d love to win a copy.

    • Hi Lea-Ellen, Sounds like you go a little deeper in scouting out a new author at the store when you’re making that impulse buy. Glad you like the cover.

  13. Julie, I think you sound like a lot of readers, except maybe for the read a few pages part. LOL My understanding is that a majority of readers don’t do this. I know I don’t, and I never have. Although recently I discovered that maybe it’s a GOOD thing to read the first few pages just to make sure it’s my cup of tea. If there’s one thing that throws me out of a read FAST, it’s pussy, clit and a couple of other clinical terms. I don’t need that much realism in my reads. But that’s the subject for another post! LOL

  14. And Lea-Ellen is the winner of Assassin’s Heart!
    Thanks everyone for the conversation, support and enthusiasm. Good luck with this new release Monica, I know I can’t wait for my copy to arrive.

  15. I am a cover lover. if the cover looks good i will usually buy the book. I most of the time get good books, but not all the time. you are a new author for me and would love to win one of your books. thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.

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