I read an interesting article linked on this blog post. I’ve blogged about a simliar topic in the past here, here, here, and here, and wonder how the sales will be on my next novel since an African-American woman is on the cover and the book will be released into most major stores: including Walmart and most bookstores that carry Christian novels.
Last summer, when I was at the Romance Writers of America conference in Washington D.C., I was talking to my roommate, author Rachel Hauck. I told her about the stigma of African-American novels – some White people think the stories are for “us” not “them”. Plus, if there are Black people on the cover, the book is sometimes automatically shelved in the African-American section – and some Whites don’t search that section for reading material.
The flipside is, if my book is shelved with White books, therefore placing my title in front of White readers, they still might not buy my novel, but, then again, they might.
I told her that I hoped that my publisher would not place a person on the cover. I’d mentioned that I’d seen that some of the covers for the 3-in-1s had just scenery, no people. That’s the way I wanted my novel to look. You see, I’d heard that Barbour’s 3-in-1s sell really well, and I figured if I had a cover without people, like the other contemporary releases, then the sales figures that those books had would somewhat guarantee that I’d share the same sales numbers. (I know there are no guarantees at all, I was only speculating, hoping to increase my chances of getting some great sales.)
Rachel suggested that I let Barbour know what I wanted on my cover. Since I had not seen my cover yet, I figured there was still time to make my wishes known. I did contact them and gave them some samples of covers that I liked for other contemporary 3-in-1s.
I love the cover, and felt it captures the essence of the stories and looks better than what I’d suggested. Upon further research, I did discover that Barbour changed their convention for designing the covers for the 3-in-1s for the contemporary series that will be released in 2010. Prior to the 2010 releases, the cover always had scenery, but starting in 2010, the covers now have a person (either man or woman) on the cover. For their historicals, it appears they were already using the convention of using a person on the cover of their 3-in-1s in 2009 – so no major changes for the historicals.
Here are some examples of the NEW 3-in-1 covers for contemporary series for 2010:
I think the marketing department did a great job with the 2010 3-in-1 covers! They look beautiful and I think that having the people on the cover captures the power behind the story more than having just scenery.
HOWEVER, I’m wondering how my book will be shelved? For example, I visited Walmart over the Christmas holiday. Most Walmarts have the 3-in-1s shelved together, but since mine has an African-American woman on the cover, will it be shelved with the other 3-in-1s in the inspirational section, or will it be shelved in the African-American section? If somebody comes to Walmart each month to buy the 3-in-1s and mine is in the African-American section, instead of with the rest of the 3-in-1s, then I doubt they’ll know my book exists and I might lose a sale. I did notice that there were some African-American inspirational titles shelved in the African-American section.
ON THE FLIP SIDE, if my book is shelved in the African-American section, I could capture those readers who only read African-American books. They might go to the AA section only, without browsing the rest of the sections, not knowing that my book could be shelved amongst other books.
I believe the ideal solution would be to shelve it both places, but I highly doubt that’s going to happen!
I need to stop worrying about this because it’s all in the Lord’s hands. And before you say, “All of this shouldn’t matter, a book is a book…” well, don’t say that. It does matter. I’ve seen the way some African-Americans and some Whites read books. The sad fact is sometimes they do base or buy a book depending upon race. 🙁
Do you think I’m worrying about nothing?