Sandra Hyatt – With Questions

My big day is coming soon, (if you call July soon, which given the speed with which January vanished could well be, like, tomorrow). The day when my very first Desire, will hit the shelves, and actual live people can buy it…or not.


It’s both very exciting and very scary, and frankly, I’m leaning a little toward the scary side. I’ve done my part, I wrote the book. Then, once my wonderful editor at Desire bought it I more or less waved good bye to it.  Harlequin (after asking for suggestions) chose a title for it – Having The Billionaire’s Baby, they’ll design a cover, and they’ll write the back cover blurb. So at this point in time I have no idea what it’ll look like when it’s sitting there on the shelf, and what it will say on the back.


So, here comes a question. How much do things like title, and cover image and back cover blurb, effect your choice of whether to pick up a book and buy it? I tend to be a back cover blurb and read the first page kind of gal. How about you?


Do you pick up the one with best looking hero on the cover? Conversely are there things on a cover that can put you off? A blonde hero? A moustache? I’ve seen some absolutely gorgeous and luscious covers and some…not so gorgeous.


Same with the title, what grabs you, billionaire, pregnant, Sheik? And is there anything that can put you off? Billionaire, pregnant, Sheik?


Ditto with the back cover blurb, how much does it influence your decision to buy? What intrigues you? What makes you slot it back into place on the shelf and pick up the next one?


So even though I have very little say in these things I’d really like to know what you all think. And then I’d really, really like to see how mine is going to look.



30 Responses to “Sandra Hyatt – With Questions”

  1. February 8, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Sandra, congratulations on your upcoming release!

    While a cover might get me to pick up a book, I make a point of reading a few pages of the book itself to see if the author’s voice/the storyline works for me. That’s why I think excerpts are so useful on an author’s website.

  2. 2 limecello
    February 8, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Sandra – Congratulations on the new book! That’s so wonderful and exciting!
    As for your questions… well hopefully my answers don’t stress you out.

    The title… may or may not affect my decision. (Your Desire title for some reason makes me think of a Presents title.) Generally I disregard category titles… but sometimes if it’s too ridiculous, I’ll say to myself “I honestly cannot bring myself to buy, or look at that book.” :X (So generally titles, for me, are a wash.)

    As for the cover – very little influence. I can think of only… maybe once? When a cover made me not want to buy the book. (I mean it was seriously hokey/painful.) On the other hand, a great cover will draw my attention to the book – and I might buy something I wouldn’t have either. (So I’d generally say a cover can only help, not hurt, for me personally.)

    The back blurb – now that will say a lot. If I don’t find the premise believable, I’m going to close the window and go to another book. “Old” or “used” story lines don’t bother me, because an “old story” and be well written, and written in a completely new and interesting way. This is my biggest decision maker, second only to the book excerpt. Generally, I’ll read the excerpt then make my final decision. Especially because oftentimes book blurbs are misleading… or actually give away the ending, or summarize a story. There are few things I like less than an author trying to be crafty/sneaky, when the blurb has “given away” the ending, so I feel like all the subterfuge is just wasting my time.

    Wow. 😛 I guess I’m pretty particular about the books I buy. And yes, I agree with Nalini. Excerpts (not book blurbs) are crucial. I’ve DEFINITELY chosen not to buy a number of books because no excerpt was available. But on the flip side, I definitely have bought a *number* of books based on a good excerpt.

  3. February 8, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    And wow… I said a lot – too much. Haha, which *of course* warrants another comment saying so! Whee!

  4. 4 Jane
    February 8, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Sandra,
    Congrats on the upcoming release of your first Desire. A catchy title and cover will catch my eye first, but it’s the back blurb that ultimately sells me on the book. Sometimes the cover doesn’t match the characters in the book, so I usually disregard a book based its cover.

  5. 5 Sandra
    February 8, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Limecello – it’s interesting that you say covers help when they’re good and can be ignored when they don’t appeal.

    The excerpts something else that’s not chosen by the author – ooh, another thing to wonder (worry) about, can’t wait to see what they’ll chose from my story. I have to say I sometimes skip the excerpt for the same reason you skip the blurb because I’ve had them give away information I wasn’t supposed to know yet. So for me, the first page really does become important in making a purchase decision. For that reason I love the facility to browse the first pages of books on the eharlequin site.

  6. 6 Sandra
    February 8, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Hi Jane

    Thanks for your congratulations. Guess that saying about not being able to judge a book by it’s cover really is right!

  7. February 8, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Well what is the number one contributor for me to buy a book – an author’s name even if it’s their first books. Well i love supporting my fellow Down Under authors and so if I’m able that month, I buy their book. Even the first. Not much help eh?

    For category, neither the title or the cover affects my decision, but sometimes the blurb will, especially if I’m torn between two books.

    Oh and word-of-mouth, especially of books not category is important to me. I read Twilight because it was suggested by a fellow writer.
    As for cover art, I like having lovely covers on books, but that’s because I love art – it wouldn’t sway me from buying a book or not.

    So no fretting Sandra, I’m sure your first release will be a hit!! 🙂

  8. 8 Christa
    February 9, 2009 at 2:56 am

    While the cover and title may have some influence as to why I may pick up the book and read the deciding factor, the back blurbIf the back blurb isn’t to my liking than no matter how appealing the cover is it’s a no sale from me. But Desires are autobuys for me anyway. I think my words for being put off by a book would be Virgin Mistress. But words that might get me to pick up the book would be Cowboy, Rancher..

    yeah on your shelf date approaching. Can’t wait to read

  9. 9 Sandra
    February 9, 2009 at 5:40 am

    Eleni – I have a rapidly expanding list of auto-buy authors, and I really like to buy an author’s first book too. The biggest problem then is in finding time to read them all.

  10. 10 Sandra
    February 9, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Christa – have to say I’m a sucker for cowboy books too. Would love to one day write a cowboy story for Desire, I just have to figure out how to get it in synch with the Desire promise. Let me know if you’ve read any good cowboy stories lately.

  11. February 9, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Oooh, Sandra, so exciting waiting for the cover for your book. Exciting and excrutiating, if I recall.

    Hmmm, what makes me buy a book? Usually ‘author’ first but when I’m not buying based on past experience with favourite authors I’ll generally buy on back cover blurb or recommendation by someone who knows what I enjoy reading.

    Titles, meh! Cover art, meh!

    And, while I put excerpts up on my site, personally I never read excerpts. Even when I have, for example, a new Suzanne Brockmann or Kay Hooper novel and part of the first chapter of their next book is in the back, I won’t read it because when I get that next book I already feel as though I’ve read it, even when I haven’t. D’ya know what I mean?

  12. 12 gopher
    February 9, 2009 at 7:20 am

    To be honest, it’s lots of little things. The spine of the book could be a couple of shades lighter than the others it’s placed with, the title could catch my eye but whatever the book has/does it has to be well designed and attractive. Like eye-candy (I know the hero is supposed to be the eye-candy but here I’m considering him as part of the whole presentation).

    And a happy ending, it always has to have a happy ending; so yes, I quite often read the last page of the book first.

  13. 13 Sandra
    February 9, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Yvonne, you’re stronger than I am then. If I’ve got the start of the next book by a fav author in the back of the one I’ve just finished then I’m in, can’t help myself. Good marketing ploy too because then of course I want to go out and buy it.

    Gopher – that’s the beauty of romance you know you’re going to get a happy ending. I just read a really big book that I was thoroughly enjoying…till I got to the end. And then I felt almost cheated, because it definitely didn’t have to end with the main character dying! Now I wish I hadn’t invested all that time in it.

  14. February 9, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Sandra, July will be here before you know it! And between now and then there’ll be heaps to keep you busy, believe me 🙂

    I love clever titles, like “The Billionaire and her Beast” – something that makes you read it again and smile. And then, like you, Yvonne, there’s authors I adore and will buy automatically, no matter cover or blurb or anything. Having said that, a good cover does it for me too. There’s been some cracker Desires out lately. When they get it right, they sure do get it right 🙂

  15. February 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Sandra – yep my TBR pile is quite large, actually terrifying. I just keep stocking it up and up and up. 🙂

  16. 16 azteclady
    February 9, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Here’s wishing you huge heaps of luck with the book, Sandra!

    It’s an interesting question–and for me the answer changes depending on the author. For a new-to-me (or a debut) author, some excerpts, or even perhaps a free short on the website, help a lot. These allow me to see whether the writer’s voice resonates with me and whet my appetite for a full book (’cause I’m a “longer books = better” kinda gal).

    On the other hand, if it’s a book I’m waiting for–the next in a series or a sequel–I avoid spoilers like the plague. I mean, I know I’m getting the book, you know? 😀

    There, did that help at all? :innocence:

  17. 17 Sandra
    February 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Robyn – I know there will be loads of things to keep me out of trouble between now and July, not the least of which will be getting myself a website. And then clearly a bit of an excerpt will be a good thing to include.

    Which leads me to yet another question for you excerpt readers (Azteclady?) should the excerpt be a real high tension moment, something particularly evocative, something character revealing? So many questions, so many possible answers and all of them right for someone.

  18. February 10, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Sandra, I’m a website fiddling fiend! 🙂 I love to update during the month and then I see someone’s gorgeous site and want mine to look like that. I’d love to be a techo wiz. Next life.

    If an excerpt’s going to be a good length, I like it from the first chapter. I read the first part of Bron’s DDU series and as a reader I was totally drawn in, as a writer it taught me another lesson on how to do it right. I also love a good mini insert inside the front cover, which gives you an idea of the voice and maybe sensuality level.

    On a side note, my prayers are with the Aussies down south battling those horrible fires. Let’s hope there’s an end to it soon.

  19. 19 azteclady
    February 10, 2009 at 4:12 am

    On the fires: my prayers and thoughts are with all the people affected–directly or not.

    On excerpts: Sandra, you are right on the money with “so many possible answers and all of them right for someone.” I don’t have a definite answer myself, because for me it depends on what the tone of the novel as a whole is. For example, if it’s suspense (or romantic suspense), then I like to see an example that shows me how the author handles that. If it’s romantic comedy, perhaps an excerpt showing an amusing exchange between the main characters. So it’s back to “it depends” 😦 Sorry I can’t help.

  20. 20 Sandra
    February 10, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I can’t believe the scale of the horror of those fires. Thoughts and prayers definitely with those affected.

    Azteclady I guess the good thing about all the answers being right is that whatever the cover, title, blurb etc someone out there is surely going to like it.

    Robyn – I love looking at author websites. My daughter reckons she’ll be able to do mine for me – she’s started putting something together, and so far seems to be doing a pretty good job. I knew there was a reason I had children.

  21. February 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm


    Don’t worry! Your release will be great 🙂 No point in stressing over it now, anyway. And… interesting. I didn’t know authors didn’t write their back cover blurbs for harlequin. (I know some authors write their own so I thought that’s just how it was. See what I get for assuming?)
    Accordingly… that’s why covers don’t “bother” me. I know all too often an author has no control over it, so … I got over that quickly. Even well before I started trolling blogs/had that fact confirmed.

    Now the excerpt – while the author doesn’t choose that, it is something s/he has control over it, as the author wrote it. Also – I normally read excerpts off of websites, and that’s another place an author has control, and I trust him/her to not give everything away. Well, that and I read romances, and I know how they’ll end. (I feel that if a romance reader *doesn’t* know how the book is going to end… well said reader has some serious problems. Much bigger than figuring out book results.) If it sounds interesting, I like the writing style, I’ll go for it. (And of course, the opposite is true.) I’m a bit more adventurous now and take book suggestions and sometimes check reviews – but before, if an author didn’t have a website with excerpts, I just wouldn’t buy the book. It wasn’t a risk I was willing to take.

  22. 22 Sandra
    February 10, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Limecello – good points. Particularly for someone I’ve never read before an excerpt is a great way to sample their voice. It’s the same as picking up a couple of books in the store and reading first pages. Except you get to do it without even leaving home. Which given that live a few miles from the nearest city is a definite bonus. Though, I have to say, since I started buying books on line rather than just when I went into town my book budget has well and truly blown out.

  23. February 11, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Hi Sandra! oooh, the tension of waiting for your book to come out!! First it’s the cover, then your author copies, then the RT review… it’ll get here in no time!

    Okay, here’s my take – I LOATHE having mistress or virgin in a title. Why is there a need to advertise the heroine’s sexual state? I mean, we don’t have The Heiress’ Virgin Groom, do we? oh, hang on, I like the sound of that story 😉 But still, it won’t make me NOT buy a book if I like the story premise.

    Covers: Mira have got some beautiful covers out, in particular Maria V Snyder and Deanna Raybourn’s. I also love a good romantic clinch, babies not so much. But it won’t stop me from buying one – the only thing that convinces me is a) an autobuy author (I have a list miles long!) and b) the back cover blurb/premise. If the story isn’t to my taste, I won’t get it. I also don’t generally read category when I’m in the middle of writing a book… too easily distracted! And the last lot I bought have been by my Down Under mates 😀

    Excerpts: If the first chapter/first meeting isn’t grabby enough, then I’d put up the first kiss, where there’s plenty of sexual tension and conflict to leave the reader hanging (actually both of my excerpts are first kisses, and it looks like my 3rd one will be too 😀 ) I normally don’t read excerpts myself – except from the authors whose websites I do 😉 Anne Oliver has a cracking one up for her new release: check it out at http://www.anne-oliver.com

    Paula x (finally, we have a cool change here so we’re now not officially the hottest State on the planet. Hey, Robbie, send all that flood rain down to the fires, can you?)

  24. 24 Christa
    February 11, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Once upon a time secret babies weren’t my first choice in choosing a book but I am finding it fun watching this tough, ruthless billioniares brought to their knees and change priorities because of a 10lb bundle of drool.

  25. 25 Sandra
    February 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Paula – you were definitely right about the Anne Oliver excerpt. Wow.

    Christa – I know what you mean having themes you think you don’t like and then reading them handled so well that it changes your mind for you. One of my early books was a marriage of convenience story and I only wrote it because I didn’t think it was a credible concept and I wanted to see if I could make it work for myself. I still love that story. And I still have hopes that I might one day convince an editor to love it too.

  26. 26 Tracey
    February 11, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Sandra you’re right time does go so fast so enjoy every moments. I am drawn in by covers however often the things that cinch the deal for me is the author’s name and if I know they’re an aussie I’ll buy especially new authors. Although my bookshelves don’t like it because it usually means another author who is added to my must buy all of their books list and the TBR pile grows. I ust admit to also having a bad habit, I like to read the last couple of paragraphs of the books after rearranging them in the shops.

    Enjoy the next 6 months Sandra

  27. 27 Sandra
    February 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Tracey I empathise. I buy books while in the back of my mind I’m only too aware of the fact that I already have a pile I can’t keep up with.

    And I’ll read beginnings in shops but I only ever read the ends before getting there ‘properly’ if it’s a book I’ve started but decide not to finish. Because of the groaning, leaning TBR pile I’ve become a lot more ruthless about not persevering with a book that’s not working for me. But I still like to check in on the end. There are so many wonderful books by wonderful authors that I do want to spend my time with.

  28. 28 Rachel Bailey
    February 12, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Hey Sandra, really good question.

    My first indication is always the author, like most people. But I pick up a book because of a title and/or cover. And blurb. And then I read the first page.

    Excerpts are great, especially if someone tells me to read a book, I’ll go check if I can see an excerpt first to see if it’s worth it. I did that recently with the Elizabeth Hoyt Raven Prince series. Loved the excerpts and so bought all 3.

    Have a great 6 months!

  29. February 13, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Honestly, all three of those words sound so cliched, so I tend to skim right over them unless I’m already familiar with the author at which point, I will read the blurb and decide if it’s something I want to read.
    Good looking heroes and generally pretty covers do draw me in and it helps if the title appeals to me on some level.


  30. 30 Sandra
    February 13, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Hi Rachel – I loved that Elizabeth Hoyt series, too.

    Deidre, I know what you mean about some (maybe even a lot) of the title words sounding cliched, the good thing about them is they usually manage to encapsulate something key about the story, trick I guess is to do that in a way that’s slightly different and appealing. Glad my job’s only to write the book 🙂

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