Geoffrey Kane, Earl of Kanewood refuses to feel anything more than passion. Four years ago, his fiancée betrayed him and he has no desire to experience that again so when he meets the beautiful Rebecca Kingsley, it’s passion at first sight. And only passion.
Rebecca has led a very quiet life working for her father at a small country inn. When she meets Geoffrey she falls in love with him right away. But she’s only the daughter of a baronet and men like Geoffrey never marry country girls like her. Do they?
When Rebecca’s father tries to marry her off to a wealthy old man, Geoffrey intervenes and marries her himself. He wants her very much but he couldn’t possibly love her. Love is for fools. At least that’s what he tells himself. But a sinister enemy soon threatens to destroy all that Geoffrey holds dear, forcing him to face the truth.
His marriage depends on it . . .
And maybe even Rebecca’s very life.
The Raven’s Inn was surprisingly elegant. The brick structure was trimmed with dark green, its long windows sparkling in the late afternoon sun. Rebecca Kingsley was straightening the beautifully-appointed parlor of the inn. Her father, Thomas, insisted that all the rooms look fine. His father had been a baronet, but all that was left of the family fortune, as it were, was the inn. As a younger man, he’d traveled in the social circles of the ton and claimed to know what the gentry and lesser folk alike looked for in food and lodging. Many travelers stopped at the inn, and they expected service and accommodations as fine as any in London, or so Rebecca’s father insisted.
At just twenty years old, Rebecca had been working at the inn all of her life. Her mother died when Rebecca was just two, leaving no real memories. Thomas refused to speak of her and Rebecca had long since given up asking. The only thing he’d say was that she took after her mother in looks. This he always said in a gruffly, affectionate manner that never failed to surprise her. She supposed she inherited her fair skin from her mother, that and her thick raven-black hair. She could never see anything of herself in Thomas.
He never really gave her much notice. She worked as hard as the servants at the inn, keeping her own room as well as half of the rest abovestairs. Mary, the chambermaid, took care of the other rooms as well as seeing to the guests’ personal needs. Rebecca served the morning and evening meals in the dining room, as well, along with Emmy. Emmy was funny and kind and a shameless flirt. She never hesitated to share her experiences with Rebecca, who couldn’t help but blush. She listened, though. Closely.
Rebecca was usually free to go about her own business after finishing her chores abovestairs. But this afternoon, she polished the candlesticks and dusted the furniture in the parlor. As usual, she wore her hair plaited in one long braid coiled at the back of her head. Her simple muslin gown was a few seasons old and well-suited to her task. She paused to gaze longingly out the window toward the stables out back. Beyond them, she could see the gently rolling hills over which she so loved to ride. If she didn’t have to see to the parlor today, she’d surely be out riding her black filly.
From her vantage point, Rebecca could see two figures walking out of the stable’s wide doors. One man was slight of stature and fell in step behind the other. The man in the lead was tall with broad shoulders and dressed in a brown coat and tan breeches. He walked with a long, easy stride. Sun glinted off hair she fancied the color of honey. He had a strong profile, and Rebecca couldn’t tear her gaze away from him. What color were his eyes?
“Fool,” she chided herself. She turned back to her work, flicking her dusting cloth in frustration.
* * *
She moved with an easy grace through the dining room, her glossy black hair catching the light given off by the candles. Curls framed the perfect oval of her face and teased the back of her neck. Her simple gown hugged her lush figure, the skirt swaying over her hips as she walked. She carried a pitcher of ale, and Geoffrey couldn’t take his eyes off her as she moved from table to table.
A man’s voice broke through his reverie. “Fetchin’, ain’t she?”
“What …?” He hadn’t even noticed the gray-haired man who joined him at his table. “Yes.”
“Peter Jenkins is the name,” the slight man offered. “How do you do?”
Geoffrey shook the man’s hand. “Kane. Geoffrey Kane,” he answered. “Very well, thank you.”
The older man gave a flick of his head in Rebecca’s direction. “She’s Kingsley’s daughter.”
Geoffrey raised an eyebrow at that. This beautiful creature was related to the florid-faced innkeeper? Impossible.
Just then, the girl approached the two men. Her mouth curved into a smile for the older man before she turned her attention to Geoffrey. Her rose-colored lips parted as she stared into his eyes for a long moment. “Blue.”
Geoffrey blinked. “What?”
She shook her head. “N-nothing.”
Geoffrey could only stare at the girl, dumbstruck. Her eyes were the color of emeralds, and sparkled as prettily. His gaze fell on her lips as she flicked her tongue over them. Desire shot through him, want like he’d never felt before. Once again, Peter’s voice broke in.
“Rebecca, this is Geoffrey Kane. Kane, meet Rebecca Kingsley.”
The girl, Rebecca, curtsied in greeting after a brief hesitation. She seemed as off-kilter as he felt, to his amazement. After a moment, Geoffrey stood and bowed slightly. “Miss Kingsley.”
“I’m pleased to meet you,” Rebecca said.
Her voice suited her. It was soft and a bit husky. And damn sensual.
“Will you be staying with us long?”
If I can help it. “A few days, actually,” he said, smiling.
She gasped softly, the sound no more than a whisper. “Well, do enjoy your stay,” she said, shyly returning his smile.
She stared up at him for a moment longer. Finally, she filled his tankard. With a nod of her dark head, she continued on through the dining room. Geoffrey sank back down into his seat, his gaze glued to her form.
JoMarie DeGioia writes historical romances with a touch of mystery for Lachesis Publishing. And her books are always on the steamy side. Her Dashing Nobles series follows the romances of four male friends in Regency London.
If you are anything like me then a visit to Chapters, the only “bricks and mortar” store available in my area, is always a welcome adventure. (Yes, books get me that excited…especially new books). I love thumbing through their stacks while sipping my full-fat, full-sugar, vanilla-bean latte. (Don’t judge me!). As I peruse through the books I want to gobble up, the cost doesn’t cross my mind until I hit the checkout line. That’s when I thank the Visa Gods.
But, I’m going to ask you to put your imagination hats on and take a little trip with me into my favourite books store . . .
Imagine this scenario: I was in a Chapters/Indigo last week, sipping on my mocha-cha-cha-frappa-macha-latte and balancing a basket full of colourful items I couldn’t wait to get home: a cute tote bag with the words “Just Read” on the front and a neon-pink water bottle (one day I plan on going to the gym on a regular basis) along with a really cool travel journal made from recycled maps (one day I plan to travel the world) and a couple of plushy throw pillows (one day I’m going to re-decorate my bedroom). Chapters sells a ton of gift and decorative items and they are all carefully and artfully displayed in the area closest to the entrance and on your way to the cash registers. How can I resist? But – here’s the twist in our story. As I was walking to the checkout line, my eyes landed on a splashy display for a new release by one of my favourite authors. Hmm… the book was $9.99. I couldn’t believe the price! I mean, it was outrageous. I remember when a mass-market paperback cost only 5.99. I was livid. I grabbed a copy, and balancing my chi-chi latte, and my basket of home decor items in one hand, and the paperback book in the other, I marched up to the customer service desk. I tapped my foot as I waited in line, fuming as I got closer to the front. When I got to the desk, I barely gave the service clerk a chance to smile and say hello, before I launched into my tirade: ” I am outraged!” I exploded. “I have bought many, many books here,” I continue, as I haul my basket of throw pillows, journal and water bottle and tote bag onto the service desk. I slap the paperback down on the desk in front of the wide-eyed clerk. And after taking a big slurp of my moo-moo latte, I say to her: “This book is far too expensive! I am shocked at the price. This is the first title of a new series for this author. I demand that I get it for free. I don’t want to waste my hard-earned money if I am not going to like this new series.” The clerk gaped at me. She was speechless . . .
REALITY CHECK PLEASE!
C’mon – people! Would you do this in a clothing store? Nope. Would you try this in a shoe store? Nuh-uh. Have you ever thought about pulling this in a bookstore? Of course not! Because readers never think to go into a store and bargain for the books they want to purchase and stores would NEVER entertain the idea. So WHY WHY WHY do some readers believe it’s not only okay, it’s THEIR RIGHT to ask authors to either reduce their EBOOK prices or give them the book for FREE?!?!
Since ebooks burst onto the market in the late 1990s-early-2000s, determining the price for an eBook has been at the forefront of an ongoing debate for authors, publishers, and readers. For me the answer to this debate seems quite simple, authors should be paid for their work. If an author or publisher chooses to put a book on sale or make it available for free – that’s great. If they don’t then that’s okay too. Just like any other product you buy – books cost money to make, and the publishing business is just that – a business.
However, when I spoke to a few indie authors I was surprised to learn that there are some readers out there who believe ebooks should be deeply discounted or free.
As a print and ebook reader myself I DID have an expectation of paying less for an e-book, until I did some research and figured out the truth of the matter. The before-me thought: If there is no production or PPB (print, paper, and binding) cost, then shouldn’t that automatically result in a significantly lower price? The after-me realized: NOPE!
On average, ebooks are priced anywhere from $0 – $9.99 and in some cases higher ( Ahem . . .KMM Fever series *cough*…) depending on whether you have a traditional publisher or have decided to self-publish. On average, indie books are already priced lower than print between $0 -6.99.
And although the PPB costs are eliminated, there are still various costs associated with publishing an ebook, such as cover design, layout & formatting, editing (professional), marketing and other miscellaneous costs (legal, distribution, author assistant etc) all which will be shouldered by the author (or publisher). Also with fierce competition in the market, indie authors spend an incredible amount of time and effort marketing their work so that it reaches their readers, which includes offering free content and free ebooks.
What is a fair price?
That answer depends on a number of factors, in this case, the cost to produce, distribute, market and what the author deems is fair to her/his work. But keeping the above expenses in mind, the average ebook seems to be competitively priced ($0 – $6.99).
I am sure the debate about pricing will always exist in some form, and all the authors I spoke with agreed that while there are some who ask for free content, (and some readers can be very nasty about it – there are many blog posts and facebook posts out there by frustrated authors who have received emails from disgruntled readers about the cost of their books). But most authors have supportive fans who understand that this is their livelihood, their bread, and butter. After all, like the rest of us, writers do need to get paid and deserve to make a profit. Especially when you consider the time it takes an author to write and publish a book.
And in case you’re wondering about my little “scenario” at the beginning of this post, I did actually ask for a discount once. The employee chuckled, and then told me in a polite but strong tone that their store policy prohibits haggling on prices. Either pay for the book or leave it. I paid. Thank you, Visa Gods!
Not sure how to price your eBook…..
Whether you’re publishing your first novel or your 10th, sometimes it can be hard to know how to price your work or use the price as a tool to achieve your goals. Consider some tips below.
5 Factors to Consider When Pricing Your EBook
Research YOUR Market
The first place to start is by researching the market for your genre. For example, if you’re writing mystery you’ll want to look at other titles that are similar to yours and compare the prices. But if you’re writing a cookbook, depending on the type, aside from other cookbooks you may want to take other health or diet books that relate to your topic.
This research will help you to find a pricing range. EBook titles cost anywhere from $0-$9.99 and can sometimes climb higher depending on author, genre, and time of release. Generally for most novels $0.99 – $5.99 where you’ll find a sweet spot between $2.99-$3.99. So be sure to do your homework. You want to price competitively, not too high or too low.
Other questions to consider is the demand for your genre. Is your genre part of a trend like colouring books or vampire novels? Is there a wide market or is this a narrowly targeted market? Or you may have already built up a following. With built in demand and fans, you may be able to price higher.
“You Get What You Pay For”
That saying still resonates today for a reason. Price can signify to consumers the quality or exclusivity of a product or it can be used as part of an overall marketing strategy. Readers choose to purchase based on the perceived value of a product. For an author, the value of their work is not just the story they tell but it can also mean the length of the work, how many words? Pages? Bonus material? Was it professionally edited? Graphics? All these things add value to the work that you’re selling and should be reflected in the price of your work. Unless it’s on a promo from a subscription list like BookBub, I know when I buy something for $0.99 it may have typos, plot holes or be formatted terribly.
One thing about Kobo I like is that aside from the page and word count it will tell you on average how long it will take to read the book. For me, that is one contributing factor to the value of a book. The longer the book, the longer I’ll be in the world enjoying myself.
For example, I discovered author Eve Langlais and her Lions Pride series on Kobo priced at $4.99 for 167 pages 49K words. For me, this is a quick fun 3-hour read. As this author has developed lengthier titles, the price of her work has increased. Her newest title “The Assassin Next Door” is 71K words and priced at $5.99. An exciting 5-hour read for me that is already loaded on Kobo and waiting for me to gobble up.
This seems like an obvious consideration, however you’d be surprised how many authors will gloss over this because they love what they do. Passion for your work is important but does not negate the cost that you’ve incurred in order to bring that work to the public. This will mean a little simple accounting.
When considering pricing your e-book you want to ensure the price you set will allow you to cover the costs (at least some). This will vary depending on what services you chose to use i.e. professionally editing, cover design and formatting, marketing. Estimating how many books you think you can sell will help you determine a price that will cover the incurred costs. Remember: Sales-Costs = Revenue
Price as a Strategy
Setting a pricing objective or strategy can help determine your price and contribute to your overall goals. Depending on where you are in your career, a first-time author or an established author with a huge backlist, setting an objective will help determine your price.
If you’re a new author you may be looking at building a readership by having readers try your work. Instead of giving your work away for free you may want to consider a lower price to gain traffic and readers through impulse buys. Or maybe you are an established author trying to sell your backlist before a new title comes out, perhaps a sale or promotional pricing for a certain time period would encourage new readers to try your work and allow the current reader to try older work while waiting for the new release. Thinking about starting a new series and hoping to “hook” reader, giving the first book for free or at a discounted rate is always a good enticement.
Using subscriptions lists such as BookBub and Freebooksy can help bolster your readership and potentially gain readers. It was BookBub that first introduced me to author Mimi Jean Pamfiloff and her King Series. I purchased the King trilogy box set, which was advertised on BookBub and priced at $.99. I fell in love with both the series and author. I am now working my way through her backlist.
The VALUE of your work:
What does your work mean to you? As an Author, you work hard and a little bit of your soul is embedded into each book. More importantly, you still need to earn an income. Don’t under value, the time, effort, and creativity it takes to produce a book. Undervaluing your work may sell an extra copy but does not guarantee a sale and it might make you feel discouraged.
Ultimately, you, the author, need to be comfortable with the price you are setting for your eBook.
She was known as The Spinster of Brightwood Manor, and that suited Lady Beatrice O’Brien just fine.
She was happy being a spinster; happy running her father’s estates while amassing a fortune of her own; happy tending to the needs of her community; and most of all, she was happy not having a man around to tell her what to do.
But when Beatrice accidentally shoots her new neighbor, the Earl of Drennan, her life turns upside-down. Suddenly, this very arrogant gentleman, who also happens to be charming and attractive, makes himself at home at Brightwood Manor, and proceeds to court her!
Beatrice knows one thing for certain. Marriage will complicate her life. But falling in love? That’s an entirely different matter.
Faith, he really was one of the handsomest specimens of manhood she’d clapped eyes upon since the war against Boney started, despite that nasty looking scar he wore. She had to admit, even if he were a bit of a tiresome bore, he was pleasant to look upon.
Distracting herself from the sight of his almost bare chest, she nervously recited by rote her planned introductions. “Sir, I am Lady Beatrice O’Brien, mistress of this house. And this delicate beauty standing beside me is our healer, Mistress Sarah Duncan. I must add she’s the same witch who had the kindness to sew your leg up for you.”
Wise Sarah gave a deep curtsy and smiled warmly at him. Her light blue eyes, the same shade as bluebonnets, sparkled down at him in warm welcome.
“Indeed,” he said looking in astonishment at the lovely vision. She didn’t appear to be someone who’d choose to seek out the more unsavory parts of life, let alone be seen boiling a cauldron of eye of newt under a full moon.
“Mistress Sarah, you must amuse our patient here sometime with tales of how you manage to stay aloft at night on your broom,” said the lady of the house with a bemused smile. “I must tell you your patient is vastly interested in such witchery and would be delighted to be instructed about your more unusual practices.”
“Now, Lady Beatrice.” The pretty healer laughed in feigned indignation. For most of her life Wise Sarah had lived under superstitious peasant eyes. She knew the numerous wild tales concerning her adopted mother and herself.
“I’ve told ye before that we modern day hexes don’t use those uncomfortable conveyances anymore. Why they proved to be far too drafty and terribly dangerous to ourselves. What with one good gust of wind there’s been many a good hex that’s gotten herself lost over the North Sea.” She laughed and winked impishly at the lady of the house, relishing the silliness of her own tale. She and her adopted mother had never touched a broom, let alone tried to make it fly, except to clean their plain plank floor.
“Nay, dear lady and lord, we modern sorceresses ride about in smart pony carts these days like the rest o’ ye mortals. It being far saner and safer. Though ’tis true, less romantic.”
The stranger smiled at her quaint explanation, flashing a row of healthy teeth. “But all the same, ma’am, despite your being a witch. Demme, if I’m not grateful for the service you’ve rendered me by tending to my leg.”
The pretty healer blushed under the handsome English stranger’s praise. “It was nothing, sir. Truth be told, it was mostly Lady Beatrice here who did the work, putting your leg back into place and binding it tight like she did. Aye, ’tis she you ought to be looking to when giving your thanks.”
His arctic blue eyes turned themselves upon his nemesis, the lady of the house, or the “vanithee” as he’d heard the servants refer respectfully of her in whispers. She stood proudly erect wrapping her title as lady of the manor about her like a protective cloak. Her bright green eyes the same shade as new leaves, carefully watching and observing his every word and gesture, her body rigid in anticipation to what he would say. It would be quite easy for him to slight her in front of the wise woman if he wished. But he did not.
“Tell me, is there no master of the house to greet me?” he asked, wondering if the lady was married, intrigued by her apparent aloofness. It was as if she had no one but herself to answer to for bringing home a stranger. Would not someone, her guardian or husband perhaps, wish to speak to him? To assure himself that such an unknown English stranger would not bring harm or scandal to his household? Surely there was someone?
“Aye, there be one,” the lady answered. “My father, Lord Patrick O’Brien. He is the master here. He’d like to have greeted you in person, but at present himself is suffering sorely from the gout and begs that you excuse him. In his absence, he requests that you accept his daughter’s welcome.” She then gave a short bob, in lieu of a proper deep curtsy of welcome, which was normally the due she gave to guests in her father’s house.
His eyes narrowed, he’d not missed the slight. “Ah . . . yes.” He nodded with understanding, his voice liquid cool, chilling the peat-heated room. “Considering that it was a member of his household who shot me off my mount that would be the least one could expect him to do. Don’t you agree, my lady?”
She gasped, stepping towards the ungrateful English dolt. She clenched her hands at her side, ready to give him a proper show of her famous spinster temper. “If ye’d only taken the time to look before ye leaped, we wouldn’t have had to put ye in this bed. And I’d not be saddled with the obliging care of ye!”
“Please, Lady Bea—,” intervened Wise Sarah, placing herself strategically between the attacking hostess and her wounded patient. “Behave yourself! Now what will your da say when he up and learns you tried to attack this wounded gentleman? And this time in pure aggression, if you please. One would think that you truly wished him harm.”
Chastised, Beatrice obediently took a step back. The last thing she desired was to have her father’s wrath fall upon her head. He’d warned her that if another one of her notorious escapades brought any disgrace upon the family name, he’d see to her punishment himself. A dire threat she knew he would follow through with if she were not careful.
She sighed audibly, her hands were tied. She could do nothing to dislodge this ingrate. And once more she regretted her part in acting the Good Samaritan to this English pudding-headed lout. She ought to have left him in the muck and mire where she’d found him, instead of seeing to it that he was brought here and properly tended.
Pretty Wiccan Rebecca Colby borrowed money from her father to start a bakery, and now he’s calling the loan due. When she learns he fell off the gambling wagon and owes big money to some scary people, she has to start making a profit—and fast—before the loan shark takes a bite out of her.
Hot Cowboy Dru Tanner is looking for his missing sister who left Texas to explore their New England Wiccan roots. She’s the only family he has left, and he’s desperate to find her. Dru has to hide the fact that he’s not a Wiccan long enough to infiltrate a coven in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It’s the only lead he has.
Dru needs a job and a place to stay while he searches for his sister. Rebecca needs cheap help so she can work some baking magic. Dru makes Rebecca an offer she can’t refuse—if only lust doesn’t drive them crazy first.
READ AN EXCERPT:
The bell above the door tinkled, signaling a customer. Jumping to her feet, Rebecca mumbled into the phone, “I’ll have to call you back, Dad.” She hung up and took a deep breath to compose herself.
Plastering a smile on her face, she turned toward the counter and caught her first glimpse of the most incredible man she’d ever seen. He was tall, at least six feet. His jeans hugged lean hips in such a way as to leave little to the imagination, yet he moved in them casually, looking totally comfortable.
When he reached the counter a gorgeous smile softened his rugged features. Blue eyes and sandy brown hair peaked out from under the well-worn cowboy hat. Am I looking at a real live cowboy here in New England?
He tipped the brim of his hat. “Mornin’ ma’am. Or I should say good afternoon. I guess it’s past noontime, after all.”
If he was rambling a little bit, she was grateful for it. She didn’t think she could speak right away.
“I was wonderin’ . . . that help-wanted sign in the window . . . ?”
Shoot. Should she tell the guy she might not be in business very long? Her Wiccan values had her believing that honesty was the best policy, but she could at least let him finish his sentence.
“Yes?” she prompted.
“Well, this is gonna sound pretty stupid if I’m wrong . . .”
His hesitation only lasted a moment. Then he gazed into her eyes with his piercing blue ones. “Are you by any chance a witch? Because if so, maybe we can help each other. I’m willin’ to trade my services for your help findin’ my sister.”
That sure wasn’t what she expected him to say. She almost tipped her head toward the ceiling to thank the Goddess.
“I—uh . . .Yes. I’m Wiccan. Do you want a locator spell?”
“Sure. If that’ll help me find her.” He reached into his shirt pocket and produced a picture of a young woman. She resembled him, but she looked much younger. Long blonde hair tumbled down from a similar cowboy hat, and she wore a checkered shirt, but the major similarities were her blue eyes and easy smile.
Rebecca hadn’t done a locator spell in a long time. And she’d never done one to find a human being, but the trade was a perfect idea. Witches aren’t supposed to make money by performing spells for other people, but a trade to save some money doesn’t count. Does it? She’d ask Hanna, later. For now, she was intrigued by the idea and the cowboy was waiting for an answer.
“Can you bake?”
He laughed. “I can learn.”
“No need. There are plenty of other ways you can help. I’ll have you fill out an application, and later I’ll check your references. By the way, our coven is meeting tonight. Would you be interested in attending?”
His brows shot up. After a brief hesitation he asked, “Do you think that’ll help me find my sister?”
“It might. You could also check out Myranda’s Occult Shop. She’s got loads of expertise and you can find any ingredients you need for a spell there.”
“A spell . . . Uh, sure, I’ll talk to Myranda.”
“Good! I hope to see you tonight,” she said. “I’ll get you that application now, and if your references are good you can start tomorrow.”
“Great. Can I get that application with a side of cherry pie?”
“Sure thing.” She smiled, already feeling a bit lighter.
For the next three Wednesdays, we’ll be doing a special feature with The Killion Group, a dynamic full service company that specializes in brand marketing for authors from idea to execution. Today we’re chatting with Shelly Willmann, a very talented graphic designer at Killion.
LP: Welcome Shelly!
SW: Hi Joanna! It’s a pleasure to meet you! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about The Killion Group, Inc, and a little about what I do!
LP: Tell us about your background and how you came to work with The Killion Group.
SW: My background in art began when I was a kid. I drew portraits, mostly. By the time I graduated high school I had drawn and sold a lot of portraits, and had developed a growing interest in photography as an art form. I began college on an art scholarship, and graduated with a BA in Photography at Webster University in St. Louis. My professors kept pressing the issue that technology was rapidly changing, and the photography industry was headed into the digital age. They predicted that film would soon be a thing of the past. As a photographer who lived and breathed film, so-to-speak, that was my cue to enrol in a graphic design program where I could manipulate images with my expert photography skills in a digital darkroom — Photoshop! Moving toward graphic design was one of the best decisions I ever made. That is when I met my college instructor, Kim Killion. She and Jeff Appel ran the graphic design program where they taught me everything I needed to know to work professionally in the field.
Soon after I graduated college I began working in the textbook publishing industry as an illustrator and a production artist, and in a media department that produced online textbooks. I tested software, proofread texts, and designed interfaces. During that time I began pursuing a masters degree in Media Literacy, which enhanced my ability to visually communicate through a critical perspective.
In 2012, Kim asked me to come work for her company, The Killion Group, Inc. Of course, I agreed, and have been designing for her ever since.
LP: What is your creative process – that takes you from the a blank “canvas” computer screen to the finished visual realization of a book?
SW: My creative process first involves research and understanding of each client’s specific goals. First, I read through the questionnaire that we give to each client to understand what the client envisions for the project. I visit the author’s websites and social media pages to get an idea about their online presence, which tells me a great deal about who they are, and how they relate to their readers. With that information, I am able to start designing. I search and download the images from stock photo sites, choose appropriate fonts, typographical styles, arrange it all, and then launch into the actual design in Photoshop, and that’s how it essentially comes together on the canvas.
LP: What are the necessary elements that make a really stand-out cover?
SW: In my opinion, the cover’s intended message is the key element that needs to be visually communicated, and accomplishing that involves a complex process. The possibilities are endless, but it basically requires using whatever appropriate design tools necessary to inform the reader in a flash about who the author is, the title, the genre, or for example if it’s romantic, historical, morose, hopeful, action-packed, dark, mysterious, etc…
One of the ways we designers achieve this goal is through a sophisticated use and understanding of typography.
We very carefully select fonts, keeping in mind which ones are best suited
for particular genres, and which ones are best for evoking certain emotions. Fonts often tend to convey feelings, movement or static, and when they are cleverly styled they can make a cover really pop. I could go on and on about the importance of typography, and Kim has taught entire college courses on this very subject. We do value typography as a crucial design element because it can make or break an effective design.
Another very important design element is one that is not seen. It’s that magical way we use design techniques to grab the audience’s attention, leading their eyes around the composition on a path to the main focus areas, hitting on all the important things, and in the right order. When someone is looking around, back and forth all over the cover, and searching for a way to see a cover as a whole, and not knowing where to settle their eyes, then the design didn’t work. An effective cover design should visually connect all the elements together seamlessly, and in a way similar to how information is read in a news article — by seeing the most important information first.
LP: Why are covers so important for a book?
We know the cover is the first thing someone sees when deciding to buy a book. Most people tend to judge a book by it’s cover as the saying goes. (I’m no exception either!!) A poorly designed cover will inadvertently suggest to the reader that the story inside is a reflection of the cover. That’s not an accurate representation, but it’s what people tend to believe. One of my clients told me that the cover I recently designed for her was the reason her book sold so well. Many of her 5-star reviewers said the reason they bought her book was because the attractive cover design caught their attention, which ultimately lead them to read the blurb, and buy the book. That’s exactly what you want to aim for!
LP: Who are some artists/designers that have influenced you in your career?
SW: More than anyone, it was the people I came in contact with in my life who influenced me the most. I give much credit to my teachers and professors who encouraged and supported me along the way. My high school art teacher, Victoria (Vicky) Cummings sent me to high school art workshops at St. Louis University and Washington University, which opened up my mind and world-view. She selected me for these opportunities, and I am so humbled and grateful!
Kim Killion was my graphic design instructor in college who taught me everything about graphic design and she is the reason why I am where I am today! She’s still an influence! I didn’t know where to begin teaching my 8-year old son how to use Photoshop so she told me how to teach him. He’s like a pro now! She is so talented, too. I often download her Photoshop files and turn off the layers one-by-one trying to uncover her creative process! It’s like discovering treasure!
My photography professor, Susan Hacker Stang, studied directly under photographers, Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at RISD. She explained how light and color affect a photograph—how color is light, and how it bounces around an image and scatters all over the place. During critiques she helped me to see that my photographic style had a cinematic feel running through it. I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy designing book covers so much. I apply that dramatic, cinematic look to cover designs when it’s appropriate, making them appear as if they are energetic moving images that have been frozen in time.
Art Silverblatt, my media communications professor who literally wrote the book on Media Literacy, greatly influenced how I use production values when designing covers. I’m always constantly aware of things like showing power or submissiveness through camera angles, the emotional and psychological impact of using certain colors, or considering that the top right hemisphere of an image is usually where the human eye naturally looks first. These are just a few things out of many that I consider. It’s been enlightening!
Lastly, but not least is Ali Cavanaugh who was in 6th grade with me. She loved to draw, too, but after that year I never saw her again. Years later I saw her high school art portfolio displayed at an art gallery. She had mastered color at such a young age, boldly controlling it, and using it with confidence. Seeing her work had pushed me to gain a better understanding of color.
Just a few months ago, I reconnected with her on Facebook! (She does beautiful watercolor portraits. Find her on FB, you will see!) After all these years I didn’t think she’d remember me, but I told her how she influenced me and my art career. To my astonishment, she was so happy to hear from me. She, too, had wondered about me all these years. She reminded me of my drawing of an ear that had pushed her to challenge herself more as an artist. It blesses me to think that two little girls in 6th grade passing through one another’s lives in one semester could inspire each other in such a way!
LP: What are some of YOUR favourite covers that YOU designed?
SW: These are some of my favorite covers. It was hard to decide which ones to single out. I connect with each author on some level when designing their covers, and so they feel like friends to me! Authors put so much effort and time into writing their books, and to finally have that cover is really exciting for both of us. Some authors have told me they are so excited to get the covers that it makes them want to write more books just so they can have another book cover 🙂 That makes my job so fun and rewarding when they enjoy it as much as I do.
I am proud to say that one of my first projects was designing the Killion Group logo 🙂 (see at the top of this post).
LP: Indie publishing has become very popular. Some indie authors are either creating their own covers or they may ask a friend with some design knowledge or technical ability to design one for them – what you do you think about that? And why do you think indie authors should consider a professional designer when it comes to their cover?
SW: Kim Killion is a traditionally published, award-winning author herself who designed her own book covers, but she is also a professional graphic designer with years of experience and expertise to back her up. She knows book covers. An indie author should consider hiring a professional designer who has plenty of experience designing book covers. If designers aren’t familiar with the industry they can run into a long list of unnecessary pitfalls such as titles that are hard to read in thumbnail images, or covers that just don’t convey the intended message as effectively as they should because of poor production values. That takes a special expertise to avoid these issues.
LP: What do you love best about working for The Killion Group?
SW: I love what I do! I’ve always been drawn to the book publishing industry. Working for the Killion Group gives me the opportunity to use every single talent and skill that I have. What an awesome feeling! It’s an honor that I get to help authors tell their stories in a visual sense. I am also a people-person, and enjoy communicating with authors every day. I feel like I am part of their production teams. I really enjoy working with Kim, too. I consult with her everyday about current clients. Skype has been great. We connect and share computer screens online. It’s as if she’s in my living room even though she’s actually a couple states away.
LP: What are you currently working on and what do you have coming down the road?
SW: I’m currently finishing up a cover for a military time travel romance. Down the road I’m looking forward to designing a 3-book series bundle.
LP: Your “day job” is very creative – so how do you spend your downtime?
SW: I usually work while my 3 kids are in school – ages 4, 7, and 8, then I quit working when they come home in the afternoon, but when I get a chance, I read and watch music videos 🙂 I’ve found music videos to be particularly inspiring for designing covers. The music and the moving images sort of imprint on my mind, and I pull from that as a creative resource when designing.
LP: BONUS QUESTION: What is your favourite go-to snack when you’re in “design mode”?
SW: OH! Currently, I have a bag of chile-spiced dried mango from Trader Joe’s that I snack-on sitting next to my computer!
Twice and Forever by Brenda Gayle
Jill Bennett had her life planned out, and then everything changed. Soon after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack two years ago, Jill’s daughter Rachel was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the very young age of 21. Widowed and scared, Jill threw herself into caring for her daughter 24/7. Now that Rachel is in remission, Jill is finding it hard to let go and give her some breathing room at home and at her new job working for a local vet named Grant Palmer. Grant has a knack for getting under Jill’s skin, especially where Rachel’s future is concerned. The last thing Jill has in mind is getting on with her own life. So why can’t she stop thinking about the handsome Dr. Palmer?
Devoted to Her Cowboy by C. J. Carmichael
When rodeo champion Blake Timber returns home as the star attraction of the Sheep River Rodeo Days he doesn’t expect to find his nerdy high school friend Shelby Turner looking so beautiful and so not nerdy. He also doesn’t expect to find his grandmother, frail and wearing a headscarf. When Grams reveals she has ovarian cancer, Blake is shocked. He’s thankful that Shelby, who works in his grandmother’s flower shop, has been there for her. But he wants to take over the reins and get his beloved Grams the best care money can buy. In spite of his best efforts, his well-intentioned plans are met with stubborn resistance from both women. Adding to his frustrations is his ex-girlfriend Kelli-Jo Calhoun, who is the Sheep River Days organizer. Unhappily married and with a son, she seems hell bent on roping him into something that could put everything he cares about at risk—especially his growing feelings for Shelby.
Her Angel by Kayla Perrin
Tasia Montgomery never thought she’d get “that” phone call from her mom. Stage four ovarian cancer. Tasia puts her job as a chef in a busy restaurant in Atlanta on hold, to go home to Miami to be there for her mother. When her mom passes away, Tasia is left with a huge burden of guilt, sadness, and loss. Now, she is tasked with the duty of packing everything up and selling the family home. She knows her mom didn’t want her to sell but what choice does she have? Her brother Andrew, who is living in Seattle with his wife and their baby, is as distant as can be. Just like their father, who up and left them when they were kids. But when Tasia meets Malcolm Robertson, the contractor her mom hired to renovate the house before she died, Tasia is drawn to him. Her mom treated him like a son and shared things with him that she never revealed to Tasia. Malcolm becomes a good friend to Tasia, but does she want something more with the handsome contractor? As Tasia, sorts through her mother’s belongings she makes a discovery about her mom that shocks her to her core, but will it make her see the truth of her own life or make her head back to Atlanta for good?
Laurie Kahn is a documentary filmmaker whose latest film explores the world of romance fiction and romance writers. It’s called LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS and it was just released last month. Laurie Kahn is also the Project Director of THE POPULAR ROMANCE PROJECT, which includes the doc film LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS, about the global community of women who write and read romance novels as well as a large interactive website exploring popular romance across time and across cultures, a nationwide library program with the American Library Association, and a symposium on the deep roots of romance fiction and its future in the digital age at the Library of Congress.Kahn is known for making documentary films that explore fascinating aspects of popular culture and women’s issues. Kahn’s film A MIDWIFE’S TALE was part of PBS’s The American Experience series and won numerous awards including a national Emmy for Outstanding Non-fiction. Her more recent film, TUPPERWARE! won the George Foster Peabody Award and was nominated for a national Best Nonfiction Director Emmy. Both films are used in courses on women’s history, medical history, early American history, obstetrics, midwifery, 20th century history, marketing and gender studies. Kahn also conceived of and produced an award winning website, DoHistory.org, that immerses its users in the hands-on process of piecing together the life of an extraordinary person in the past. Kahn’s film company, Blueberry Hill Productions, was founded in 1992. During the 1980s and early 1990s, she worked on many award-winning documentary series, including The American Experience, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965, and Frontline Special Report: Crisis in Central America. For the past four years Kahn has directed the Creativity Foundation. She has also been a consultant for the American Film Institute, The Smithsonian Institution, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Before working in film, she worked in radio for NPR’s evening news program All Things Considered.
LP: What inspired you to make the documentary LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS?
LK: As a documentary filmmaker, I want to bring the lives and work of strong, interesting women to the screen, because women’s stories aren’t being told nearly often enough! I am also very aware that any industry dominated by women is typically dismissed as trivial and “merely domestic.” My previous films — A Midwife’s Tale and Tupperware! – are very different from one another, but they were both shaped by my desire to look honestly at communities of women who haven’t been taken seriously (but should be), who deserve to be heard without being mocked.
When I learned that the romance fiction community is global, successful, and almost entirely female, my ears perked up. I began doing research, and I discovered a group of women who’ve built a remarkable community — and also a multi-billion dollar business.
LP: How has the romance community responded to your film?
LK: There have been almost 100 very successful screenings of Love Between the Covers — in libraries, community centers, and movie theaters in cities across the US, and around the world. The big romance publications — Romantic Times, USA Today’s HEA, the American Library Association and many romance blogs — have raved about the film. I get email and social media messages from readers and authors who I don’t know, all the time. And since the film’s wide release on various platforms on July 12, I hope to hear from many more!
LP: Who are the authors that you follow in LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS? And what was it like meeting them and talking to them?
LK: I wanted to find a broad range of characters, to challenge the two-dimensional stereotypes of romance authors and readers. I was looking for authors with diverse backgrounds and diverse day-jobs. After shooting dozens of interviews, I had to narrow down my list of potential main characters. And that was incredibly difficult, since so many of the women I’d been interviewing were funny, smart, and interesting.
The main characters we finally chose to follow in Love Between the Covers are:
Mary Bly– Tenured Shakespeare professor by day, bestselling romance author Eloisa James by night.
Len Barot– Surgeon, farmer, publisher, and well-known author of lesbian romance fiction, writing under the pen names Radclyffe and L.L. Raand.
Beverly Jenkins– Pioneer of African American romance, author of historical, suspense and inspirational romances.
Susan Donovan and Celeste Bradley – Best friends, divorcees, single mothers, and New York Times bestselling writing partners.
Joanne Lockyer– A young Australian environmental consultant and aspiring romance author trying to publish her first novel.
* Nora Roberts– Often called the Queen of Romance. One can’t make a film about the romance community without Nora!
But lots of other writers play important roles in the film. We got terrific interviews with Jayne Ann Krentz, Jennifer Crusie, Robyn Carr, Brenda Jackson, Suzanne Brockmann, Bella Andre, Sherry Thomas, Kristan
I had a blast meeting and getting to know all of them!
LP: Tell us about the production itself – how was it funded and is this doc part of a bigger series or a special academic project you are working on?
LK: Back in 2010, I dreamt up the Popular Romance Project which includes 1. the website PopularRomanceProject.org, 2. the Library of Congress conference What is Love? Romance Fiction in the Digital Age (you can see the conference program and watch all four amazing panel discussions at http://www.lovebetweenthecovers.com/loc-con), 3. the film Love Between the Covers, and 4. a nationwide program of screenings of the film at public libraries, universities, and community centers.
The project was funded by hundreds of generous Kickstarter supporters, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mass Humanities, the Nora Roberts Foundation, an RWA scholar grant, the Freed Foundation, Amazon’s foundation, Harlequin (they supported the conference), and dozens of other foundations.
The sneak preview of Love Between the Covers took place in the historic Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress in February of 2015. I’m proud of organizing the first-ever conference on romance fiction hosted by the Library of Congress! And I’m grateful to all of my partners on this project: the Library of Congress, the Center for History and New Media, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance.
LP: How do you define a romance novel?
LK: The Romance Writers of America define a romance novel as a novel with a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. So that’s the definition I worked with!
LP: When did you start reading romance and why do you love it?
LK: I was a big reader of Victoria Holt, Elizabeth Goudge, and Jane Austen when I was in junior high school. I was intrigued by the Brontes, and immersed myself in the imaginary world the Bronte sisters created when they were young. When I got to high school I became an avid reader of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann, James Baldwin, Herman Melville, and many others — mostly men, since very few women were deemed worthy of “the canon” back then. In college, my reading shifted to non-fiction (I was a philosophy major and I wanted to be a journalist.) For years I read non-fiction and short stories. Plunging into the romance world has allowed me to plunge back into long-form fiction!
LP: Why is romance fiction important for women? In your opinion is it empowering? Is it feminist?
LK: I think romance fiction is empowering. This is one of the few places where women are always center stage, where they get what they want, justice prevails, and the broad spectrum of desires of women from all backgrounds are not feared, but explored unapologetically.
LP: When and where can we expect to see LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS? Any upcoming screenings?
LK: Love Between the Covers was officially released on July 12! It’s all been very exciting! The film is now available for purchase at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, X-box, VUDU, DirecTV, FandangoNOW, Kaleidescape, AT&T U-verse, cable on demand, satellite TV and many other platforms! Here are the links for Amazon and iTunes:
LP: Tell us about some memorable moments that happened during filming of LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS?
LK: It took us a few years to get our interview with Nora Roberts, but when we did, she was open and funny and willing to talk about subjects she’s never been asked about. A woman was sitting outside the hotel room where I was doing the interview. I asked who she was, and Nora told me it was Ruth Langan, a romance writer she met 30 years earlier at the very first conference of the Romance Writers of America. They roomed together then, and have been sharing a room at the national conference ever since! Clearly Nora, a multi-millionaire, does not have to share a room with anyone! But I thought their friendship said a lot about the loyalty and camaraderie of the romance community. I invited Ruth into the room and then interviewed the two of them together. Our interview with Nora is unlike any other interview with her that I’ve seen. She openly discussed her childhood, shared hilarious stories about her early days as a writer, explained how the romance industry has changed, and discussed her writing process.
LP: What’s coming up for you – tell us what you’re working on next?
LK: My next film project is about a homeless shelter called Y2Y (Youth-to-Youth) — created for young adults and staffed by volunteer university students the same ages as their homeless guests. I will document Y2Y’s obstacles, hard choices, and triumphs over the next three years as homeless young adults and idealistic university students work together to create a safe environment for an extremely vulnerable population. It’s a wildly ambitious attempt to come up with a better model for dealing with homeless youth, and the students running the operation hope to inspire other students to replicate what they are doing at universities around the country. It’s an important subject. And the students and homeless guests are inspiring. For more info: blueberryhillproductions.com/y2y.
LP: Bonus: Who do you fangirl over?
LK: Sorry to be geeky but I fangirl over beautifully made, interesting, entertaining documentary films. When I see one, I’m jazzed for days.
LP: Where do you enjoy tucking into a good romance novel?
LK: On a hammock between two big trees in my yard. In the winter, you can’t beat a comfy chair in front of a fireplace!”
You can see ALL the different places where the film is now available for purchase or viewing at:lovebetweenthecovers.com/filmrelease as well as watch excerpts from the film AND fabulous bonus videos with footage that did not make it into the film!
If you watch the film LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS take the time to rate and review it at Amazon, iTunes and GooglePlay! It will make a big difference for this wonderful indie documentary film!!!
Many women dream about becoming romance authors. But how about becoming romance booksellers? Meet – Bea and Leah Koch – the proud owners of The Ripped Bodice bookstore. And they LOVE what they do.
The Ripped Bodice is the only exclusively romance bookstore in the United States. Based in downtown Culver City (in the greater Los Angeles area), the store offers a wide selection of romance novels from every sub-genre. It also sells jewelry, stationery, beauty products, cute t-shirts and unique gift items.
The store is owned and operated by a dynamic sister duo – Bea and Leah Koch. The sisters have loved reading romance novels since they were teenagers and have always dreamed of opening a romance novel bookstore. Originally from Chicago, Bea went to Yale and NYU, where she wrote a graduate thesis titled, “Mending the Ripped Bodice.” Leah moved to Los Angeles to attend USC, graduating cum laude with a degree in visual and performing arts.
LP: Why did you want to open a bookstore that sells romance novels exclusively?
TRB: Quite simply, it’s what we love to read. But more seriously, we believed that it was long overdue and an important thing to bring to the romance community.
LP: When did it open and how did you get it off the ground?
TRB: We soft opened a week before March 4th, which is our official grand opening date. Our opening weekend was one long party with author signings and events – it was the perfect way to launch.
LP: Are there plans in the works to open at other locations?
TRB: Not at the moment, but we get asked all the time about expanding. We’re excited that so many readers want a Ripped Bodice in their town, but we’re focused on building the best business we can before we open another location.
LP: How has the romance community responded to your store?
TRP: The romance community has been so welcoming. We get customers from all over the world travelling to the store and it’s so exciting when they walk in and tell us they’ve come from Italy, Australia, you name it.
LP: How do you define a romance novel?
TRP: We use the Romance Writers of America definition – a central love story and a happy ending.
LP: When did you start reading romance and why do you love it so much?
TRP: We both started reading romance in our early teen years. I think for me (Bea) it was so incredible to see women’s stories and search for love centered. And I just fell in love with historical romance. I love the blend of fact and fiction and the way authors use their research to enhance their stories.
LP: What sorts of events do you hold in the store and what do you have coming up?
TRP: We have traditional author signings and readings, but we also try to offer a broad slate of events. We’ve had essential oil classes, ladies night out, and movie screenings. As I type this, we’re getting ready for our community book-club meeting, and we have an author signing this weekend with Alisha Rai, Carrie Ann Ryan and Alyssa Cole.
LP: How has business been so far and is it everything you expected and more? How are customers reacting?
TRP: It’s so much more than we expected. When someone walks in and says something like, “I’ve been waiting my whole life for a store like this” there is such a feeling of pride, but also kinship. I’ve been waiting for a store like this as well! Of course, there are customers who aren’t as familiar with romance but we love that too because it’s what we’re most passionate about and we love sharing it. We hear variations of “you guys are so enthusiastic!” pretty regularly.
LP: What is your favourite aspect of running the Ripped Bodice?
TRP: I love recommending books. I feel so lucky that I get to introduce my favorite authors to new readers, and discovering new authors through our customers is incredible.
LP: Besides books what else do you sell at your store?
TRP: We sell jewelry, candles, cards, prints, pins, bookmarks, etc. We try and merchandise beyond books in a thoughtful way. Everything fits together in some sense. We work with so many amazing female creators and makers beyond just authors.
LP: Have guys figured out that your store is a great place to meet women? Is it mostly women who shop in your store or do you get men too? Men on their own or with a spouse or girlfriend? How has the reaction been from guys who visit the Store?
TRP: We’ve had lots of gentlemen come in with romantic partners or friends. The reaction is definitely different depending on whether they know what they’re walking into. We certainly welcome men into the store but we are primarily a space for women and that will always be our first priority.
LP: Are either of you interested in writing romance novels? If so what are you working on?
TRP: Bea has always wanted to publish a romance novel (and she will one day!) but right now we are focused on the store.
LP: When boxes of books arrive – that is when your stock arrives – who gets to open the boxes first? And is there any “squeeing” involved?
TRP: There is, in general, a good amount of squeeing. It’s just such a joy to take these books out of boxes – and it wasn’t something we had really considered before opening. We were readers and fans first, so having a favorite’s new book a few days before it’s out is like having the most wonderful secret.
LP: Bonus: Who do you fangirl over?
TRP: How much time do you have? So many amazing authors, Courtney Milan, Christina Lauren, Beverly Jenkins, Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn to name just a few.