Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tracy Weber's Thoughts on Judging a #Book by Its Cover @TracyWeberTypes #AmWriting #WriteTip

It’s time to admit it. I suffer from OCPD—Obsessive Compulsive Planning Disorder. I hadn’t even finished writing Murder Strikes a Pose when I started preparing to query agents. I took classes, read dozens of blog articles, and attended a host of information sessions. In the end, I left with two key takeaways:
  1. Check your spelling. Agents will toss your manuscript in the garbage if you spell their name wrong.
  2. Your manuscript must have a fabulous first line—a single sentence that will hook the reader in twenty words or less. 
Writing my book’s first line became an obsession. I sweated and angsted and wrote and rewrote. I finally created something perfect: a pithy first sentence that would simultaneously hook the reader, draw them into the story, and introduce them to the voice of the novel’s protagonist.
But all of that angst and hard work will be for nothing if readers never crack open the book. That’s where the cover comes in.
The design of my book’s cover started with my author website. My webmaster (aka husband) and I discussed the site’s design for months. I wanted it to illustrate some key elements of my mysteries; he wanted a professional-looking page that wouldn’t take him a hundred years to create. We finally agreed that the site would contain:
  • Bright, happy colors that captured the lighthearted tone of the work
  • An illustration that quickly showed two important components of the series: yoga and dogs
  • Recognizable landmarks of Seattle, the city in which the series takes place
  • A feeling of playful mischief between the two main characters: Kate, a quirky yoga instructor, and Bella, her horse-sized German shepherd. 
That decided, my husband hired artist Nicole Alesi who developed this web banner.
 Guestpost 3_photo1
I was simply delighted. The web banner contained everything that I wanted and more.
My publisher agreed. When Midnight Ink purchased the first three books in the series, they hired Nicole to design the book covers. The cover art she created for Murder Strikes a Pose is below:
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I have to admit, I love it.
So imagine my surprise when I read my first one-star review. The reviewer said that my writing was “lovely; fast paced and vivid,” and that mystery readers would like the book. So why did she give it a single star? In spite of the word “murder” in the title, she thought that the book was a romance, not a mystery. Evidently, she doesn’t like reading about murder.
The second surprise came a few weeks later at my first book signing. Several people paused at my table, glanced at the cartoon cover, shrugged, and walked away saying, “Oh, it’s a kid’s book.”
So much for that all-important first line.
I still adore my cover, as do most of my readers. I know many people have started the book specifically because they were drawn in by its bright, happy design. The cover of my second book, A Killer Retreat, will be substantively similar: Same light, bright cartoon characters; same illustration of the setting in the background; same sense of mischief and play between the two main characters.
But this time there will be one important change: the dog will be holding a piece of crime scene tape. Perhaps that will make all the difference.
What makes you decide to read a book? Cover? Title? First line? Please share your thoughts below.
 Tracy Weber is a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, where she current­ly lives with her husband, Marc, and German shepherd, Tasha. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sip­ping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. Tracy loves connecting with fans.  Find her on her author web page or on Facebook.
Guestpost 3_photo2 (1)
When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.
One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.
"Cozy fans will eagerly await the next installment." —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Murder Strikes a Pose, by Tracy Weber, is a delightful debut novel featuring Kate Davidson, a caring but feist yoga teacher . . . Namaste to Weber and her fresh, new heroine!" PENNY WARNER,AUTHOR OFHOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE
"[T]his charming debut mystery . . . pieces together a skillful collage of mystery, yoga, and plenty of dog stories against the unique backdrop of Seattle characters and neighborhoods. The delightful start of a promising new series. I couldn't put it down!" WAVERLY FITZGERALD, AUTHOR OF DIAL C FOR CHIHUAHUA
"Three woofs for Tracy Weber's first Downward Dog Mystery, Murder STrikes a Pose. Great characters, keep-you-guessing plot, plenty of laughs, and dogswhat more could we want? Ah, yesthe next book!" SHEILA WEBSTER BONEHAM, AUTHOR OF DROP DEAD ON RECALL
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with Tracy Weber on Facebook & Twitter


  1. It's great to be here today at Paws on Books! Please feel free to ask questions or leave a comment!

  2. Great post, Tracy! Love your covers and love your books. We've had the cover discussion before... Your title clearly has "murder" in the title. (We sometimes get questions about our books, too. We're never sure if it's the titles or the covers.)

  3. Thanks, ladies! I do love my cover. Hoping the crime scene tape makes it more obvious in the next book....