Last week I received my royalty statement from Mills & Boon, and I’ve been combing over the numbers ever since.  One thing occurred to me – Stinky Covers Sink Sales!

One of my all time favorite books – The Boss and Nurse Albright – was fortunate to be paired in the UK with Amy Andrews for the 2-in-1 release with a cover depicting a woman and her daughter holding hands and walking through a meadow.

We sold exceptionally well in the UK with that book cover.  Granted, the book cover was a bit generic, but could be construed as my heroine with her (much younger in the book) daughter.  At least she had the same color hair as my heroine, Claire.

Then I saw the book cover for the US release, and my heart dropped.  Was it clip art?  A poorly cropped photo pasted onto a white background?  When had my dashing brown haired doctor Jason turned into a toothy dental advertisement type?  Claire, poor Claire, had lost her honey-colored tresses for dark brown, and her hazel eyes were coffee brown, and she was depicted as a 1970s styled RN, when she was really a nurse practitioner!

The reviews were very kind.  Romantic Times gave it 4 starsReader ratings from Amazon and Goodreads were also good to excellent, I even received a heartfelt e-mail from Germany from a lady who thanked me for writing realistically about Lupus, but the sales plummeted in the US.

The distressing thing was, The Boss and Nurse Albright was the first book of my Santa Barbara trilogy, and how could I possibly hope to generate interest in the US in the second book if no one read the first book?

Of my list of e-book Medical Romances on Amazon US, it sells the least.  I can’t help think that it’s that ugly cover blocking people from even reading the back of the  book blurb:

Dr. Jason Rogers keeps people at a distance and his pain firmly inside. Until he meets nurse practitioner Claire Albright, who’s not afraid to tell him what she thinks… And then there’s Claire’s little girl, Gina, who reminds Jason of the daughter he lost.  Can Claire and Gina do the unimaginable – make Jason smile again and be part of their happy family?

If I could choose a cover to represent this story the best, I would pick the lovely Italian version.

Now that’s the Jason and Claire I saw when I wrote The Boss and Nurse Albright.

Follow this link for a wonderful breakdown of each book in the Mid-Coast Medical Trilogy at Virgina Campbell’s website.  Thank you, Virginia!

One thing I don’t have to worry about is the gorgeous cover of my July Harlequin and Mills & Boon Medical Romance: Dr. Tall, Dark…and Dangerous?  Isn’t it gorgeous?  



Now be honest – if the book cover is a clunker, do you skip over the book?  Or do you read the back cover blurb anyway?


Giveaway! I’ll give an e-book copy of The Boss and Nurse Albright to two people who leave a comment this week!

Until next week, make it a great one!  And don’t judge a book by its cover!



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21 Responses to DO STINKY COVERS SINK SALES! by Lynne Marshall

  1. Nas says:

    Hi Lynne,

    Congratulations on the gorgeous cover for Dr. Tall, Dark…and Dangerous?

    As one half of two readers in my family, I really don’t look at covers. For me it’s enough that a book is by Lynne Marshall.

    But for Shariya, my daughter- if the cover model doesn’t look hot or she doesn’t like what the cover depicts- she won’t read that book. BTW, she got hooked on M&B Medicals by reading your HER LA KNIGHT. After which she read a lot of Medicals and then turned to study medicine- did the medical romances contribute?

    I remember when we read your all three of your Mid-Coast Medical Trilogy, how we discussed the characters and the different storylines. Alas, we don’t get time to discuss books now.

  2. Hi Nas!
    Very interesting feedback about how you don’t care about the cover and your daughters does. Going on that theory, I’d lose 50% of my readership because of that clunky cover!
    I’m thrilled to know your daughter discovered Medical Romance by reading Her L.A. Knight. Thanks so much for informing me. I loved that book, and hope it goes to e-books from Harlequin soon so more people can read it.

    Oh, I’d love to think I had something to do with Shariya going into medicine. 🙂 I’d be blowing on my knuckles and shining them on my shirt like a proud auntie.

  3. Hi Lynne,
    I write paranormal interracial romance ( Teaching Between Midnight and Dawn) as well as Contemporary, and Historical. I don’t know the sales yet for; A Lad’s Trousers ( Historical) because it won’t be released till Aug. 1st, or Mendacity (contemporary) because it won’t be released till June 17th; but Teaching Between Midnight and Dawn has been out for a year, and it still hasn’t hit record sales on amazon lol. I’m not necessarily sure if it has so much to do with the cover of your book. I just think it’s people’s attitude towards whatever genre.

    I think my mother would buy your book in a heart beat, even with the cover you don’t like lol 🙂

    this is my book cover, and for Paranormal my artist and I thought it was amazing lol, but I’m not sure if other people do. But it is top noch.

    • Hi Alexandria – I know that specific genre’s bring people to books, but I think a bad cover might send a person to other books in that genre rather than the goofy looking covers.

      Your paranormal book cover is good. I can see where a romance reader might think it isn’t romantic looking, but I would read the back cover blurb before deciding whether or not the book was something I’d want to read.

      Very best wishes on your upcoming releases! And tell your mother to come visit my website, since she might like my genre of romance. LOL 🙂

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. I usually buy based on author, then on blurb. But it’s possible that an attractive cover might draw me to at least look at a new author and read the blurb. Funnily enough I haven’t read anything of yours so far but was looking at An Indiscretion on Amazon in the past week. That was because someone mentioned it so I guess it was reader recommendation. It was seeing that title in your comment on a new FB group I joined that sent me here.

    • Hi Fiona – I agree about having specific authors to read. How does a reader find new authors, though? How do you find new authors?

      I’m glad to know that An Indiscretion was mentioned and recommended by a reader or perhaps a recent review. I loved writing this story and have gotten nice feedback. The book cover isn’t exactly romantic (as I’d hoped it might be with the Latin Doctor in the background watching the nurse in the forefront) but I love her eyes and feel they tell a whole story.

      I’m glad I put this blog announcement on the Giveaway FB page and you left a comment. 🙂

      • I think I mostly try new authors on recommendation. I don’t know a lot of American authors. Being Australian and brought up on Mills & Boon I didn’t get to know a lot of the Silhouette authors. As I come across them on the Harlequin site or Twitter or Facebook I’m gradually adding new authors to my TBR list.

        • I’m glad to know you are open to new authors, Fiona. Mills & Boon does have a number of US authors writing for various lines. I’m very happy and proud to be one of them. 🙂

  5. Maria says:

    Hi Lynn,

    I’m with Nas on this one. For me, if a book is by a writer whose work I know and like, that’s reason enough to buy and read a book. But if I buy a book by someone new, the cover might be a deciding factor. But it’s probably the blurb with the premise that excites me rather than the picture on the cover. The truth is I’m not very visual, I’m more an auditory person.

    I’ve read and enjoyed AN INDISCRETION. Reviewed it too on RtB and RBH. I found it a wonderful read.

    • Hi Maria!

      I’m glad to know that the book premise outweighs the cover for buyability.

      I was thrilled with your reviews for An Indiscretion. thanks so much.

      And thanks for commenting at my blog.

  6. Hi Lynne,

    I like all your covers…but do have to agree that the one from Italy is a lot more prettier and inviting than the one released in the US..though that isn’t too shabby either 🙂

    I do admit I judge a book by it’s cover…but that doesn’t always stop me from reading that back blurb…if I’m familiar with the author or the title grabs my attention, I pick it up and check it out.

    Interesting post…and congratulations on all your success!

    • Hi Christine.
      Wow – glad to know you like my book covers. I have felt my gut tighten a few times at the cover reveal for a few of them. LOL. More importantly, I am really glad to know that there seems to be a consensus in the comments here that a bad cover doesn’t always stop a person from picking up a book. What I think is stinky might not be so bad to other people. Yeah – I fell in love with that Italian cover. They even got the docks in the background right.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. I’ll admit it: a bad book cover will (and has) prevent(ed) me from even reading the blurb. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but with all the thousands of book options out there, I need SOMEthing to help cull the herd, and discarding covers that aren’t well made, look cheap/cheezy, or have unattractive heroes is a quick and easy, if not fair, way to do that. I actually wrote a blog about this earlier in the year, in case anyone wants to hop over to my site:

    It’s awful to judge a book by its cover, especially since us authors have so little control over it. I was SOOO happy that the cover of my novel didn’t suck… that was honestly the number one thing I was concerned about!

    However, I must also add that this only applies for new authors. If I’ve read and loved an author before, I’m likely to buy their other books, cheesy covers and all. Usually the back-of-book blurb and reviews will be the biggest factors in whether or not to skip a book from an author I know. And as far as reviews are concerned: there would have to be a significant number of bad reviews before I skipped a book. One or two bad reviews isn’t enough to discourage me!

    • All Great information, Laura. Thanks so much for spelling it out so well. I agree with you on all of your points.

      Now, off to read that blog about judging books by the cover.

      Thanks for commenting,
      BTW – I agree that your book cover for Dancing with Danger is gorgeous! I’m looking forward to reading it.

  8. robena grant says:

    Well, you know I’m a big fan and I buy for the story not the cover, but that doesn’t mean that a lovely cover won’t make me stop and pick up a book in a bookstore. If I’m ordering on Kindle I don’t even look at the cover because I’m buying based on prior books by that author, or I’ve read the first chapter sample. If they’re posted on FB yeah, a great cover will get my interest, but so will a fascinating title.
    Dr TDandD is a great cover and it stands out from the usual aqua cover showing the H&H. So good on HM&B for getting creative. : )

    • Hi Robena – I cannot resits picking up a book with a beautiful cover if I’m in a book store, but like you said, e-books are a whole different species. It’s hard to give the cover as much influence when the “book” doesn’t really exist, and we don’t really “own” e-books like we do printed books.

      I agree that this is the best HM&B cover I’ve had since Her L.A. Knight. I adored that book cover!

  9. Mae Clair says:

    For me, if I know the author and their work, the book cover doesn’t matter. But if I’m browsing then, yes, it’s the cover that attracts me. I’m a visual person so I like a good visual representation. I will often pass over a book, not even giving it a second look if it has a shoddy cover

    I think as authors we have an ideal representatin in our heads of what our covers should look like and the reality probably doesn’t always match. I’m waiting right now for the cover of my debut novel and am on pins and needles. I know what my characters look like in my head. Will that translation make it onto my cover?

    On your covers, I would likely pick up any of them to read further but, yeah, that Italian one is extra nice. 🙂 Wishing you much success!

    • Hi Mae Clair,
      What a lovely name. Oh, I’m excited for you waiting for your first book cover. I hope you love it and can proudly show the world!

      So true about what we see in our heads and what ends up on our books as being polar opposites sometimes. I guess it’s part of the biz, as they say.

      Thanks for chiming in on the topic, and again, best wishes on your debut book and book cover!



    Maria and Fiona – please contact me via my website, so I can send you your e-b00k of THE BOSS AND NURSE ALBRIGHT.

    Thanks so much for all of the fun comments, folks.


  11. Dee J. says:

    I’m horrifying late, but I agree with you about covers. Good thing this last cover is GORGEOUS!!! Here’s to tons of sales! (LOVE the hunky Dr. on the cover!)

    • Better late than never, Dee J! I’m glad you like my next book cover – I love it! Also, the first reviews at the Mills & Boon website have been super.

      thanks for commenting.