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Getting used to life back home in Deer Park, North Carolina, Sydney McCall and her right-hand tabby, Toby, are helping her sister Kat run the local animal shelter. Syd and Kat are all excited about the prospect of the shelter’s newest fundraiser: shopping channel queen Ulla Townsend. Shelter admin Maggie Shayne vehemently refuses to have anything to do with the woman, but the fundraiser ensues as planned. That is, until Ulla turns up dead in the middle of the event.
The cause of death is determined to be an allergic reaction, but Syd and Toby are sniffing out something fishy. When Syd met Ulla, it was clear she was distasteful and rude. And right before the event, Syd spotted some behind-the-scenes drama between Ulla and her manager. As they begin to investigate, they realize there is no shortage of suspects, and Maggie is at the top of the list.
Now Syd and Toby must claw their way to the truth before everything goes paws up at their animal shelter in Death by a Whisker by national bestselling author T. C. LoTempio.
You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover – or can you?
T. C. Lotempio
Ever hear the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, it’s not just a lot of words strung together – it’s a lot truer than you might think. In the cold light of day, the harsh reality is a vast majority of readers do indeed use the cover of a book as a deciding factor in not only whether or not they should buy the book, but if they will enjoy it as well.
With millions of books for readers to choose from, the first “sales pitch” is the cover. If it is not striking enough to draw attention, it will be passed over for something more interesting.
The cover is actually the first page of the story. It is here the book communicates to the reader a hint of the story contained within. Color is extremely important. A dark cover, for example, could suggest a dark tale while those with brighter covers might communicate a lighter fare. The cover can speak to the emotion of the reader, encouraging them to take a journey.
A cover can also create preconceptions in a reader’s mind about what the characters or the setting look like. Oftentimes, however, what’s on the cover doesn’t quite match the story. For example, in Nick and Nora #2, Claws for Alarm, Nick is depicted on the table of Nora’s coffee shop with a cup of spilled coffee spelling out “Help” at his side. Okay, it’s true, the main character owns a sandwich/coffee shop, BUT…the murder and most of the action takes place at an art studio. When they asked me for cover suggestions I thought about having the cat on an easel, the brushes or paint from the brushes spelling out “Help”. Why did they pick the café background instead? “Cafes are a better sell” is what I was told. So often times it’s metrics that will determine a book’s cover, not the actual tale contained within.
Everyone loved the beautiful cat on the cover of the first CAT RESCUE mystery (which didn’t really tell an accurate story of the mystery inside, either). Not so much the cat on the second entry, DEATH BY A WHISKER, although the cover more accurately reflects the story (a popular shopping channel host dies at a booksigning). See if you can figure out the murder weapon depicted on the cover too!
Still, a well-designed cover is the first assurance the reader has of the actual quality of the book. A poorly drawn or designed cover can sometimes create preconceptions in the mind of the reader. They might be more inclined to try to spot mistakes in the text, typos or even plot points. Publishers realize the importance of a quality cover and quite often they have special artists for different genres. Cozy covers tend to be more colorful, while thrillers are dark and edgy. More and more authors who have turned to self-publishing now entrust cover design to independent graphic artists to try and ensure bigger sales.
In a nutshell, a great cover design is necessary to draw the reader’s attention and to get them to connect to your book on an emotional level. Great cover designs therefore need to draw the reader’s attention, engage them on an emotional level, suggest the tone and style of the work, and showcase the quality of the book itself. A monumental task, to be sure, but one that could make the difference between a book with lackluster sales and one that hits the NY Times bestseller list.
About the Author
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuted Dec. 2, 2014. Followed by #2, CLAWS FOR ALARM. #3, CRIME AND CATNIP, was released in December. She, Rocco and Maxx make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.net and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com
Where to find them:
ROCCO’s blog: www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com