What Does Your Book Cover Say?

Stepping to the stage is: Leona Romich

Let’s talk book covers! The first thing a potential reader notices about a book is the cover. Makes sense; it is the very first thing that catches a potential reader’s eye. There used to be a time when the problem with some book covers was the half dressed women on the covers. The majority of readers are women. To carry around a book (when ereaders were not around) like that was…well, embarrassing.

Fast forward a few years and now with the trend of ereading, it seems that a lot of these book covers have gone from half dressed women to downright pornographic. Yes…I said it…PORNOGRAPHIC! Asses in the air, asses in a chair, asses everywhere! Yes, sex sells. But damn all that! Some of us have kids and some of us actually still read physical books and not just eBooks.

As if nakedness wasn’t the only problem, a lot of covers are starting to look too similar. Think about this, most of the book covers in urban-lit have the exact same things on the covers: money, drugs, guns, bullets and blood. Cars and crime scene tape are quickly gaining ground. Let’s be original, people. Here’s a suggestion: take a scene from the book and make that the cover.

Authors, if you insist on putting people on the cover, PLEASE let the character description in the book match that of the person on the cover. If a character has long hair flowing down her back, a short haircut or curly hair, let the model on the cover reflect that.

Then there are covers that just have too much going on and make no sense at all. Covers like that are a hot ass mess! Making it a bigger and hotter mess, there are those who use several different fonts. Stick to one font and make sure it is visible enough where the reader is clear on what the title says. Some are so blurred by the background, so small or illegible that readers have to squint or move the book around to make out the title. Or the number of different fonts distract from the title and cover. There is no need to put so much on a cover. Sometimes simple is better. A true author should let their creativity flow with not only the content of the book but the outside with the cover as well. Make it simple and straight to the point. Make sure it makes sense and corresponds with what the story is about.

There are yet other covers that look like someone took a picture with their personal camera or cell phone, blurred and all, and just threw it on the front of a book. Really? Shouldn’t you invest in your cover just a little more than just to throw some random BS on the cover?

Those who think it is creative to intentionally spell words in a title incorrectly…IT IS NOT CREATIVE AT ALL! It makes it look like you do not know how to spell. It is getting to the point where this seems to be the new “thing” to do. I have to shake my head. In all honesty, if I see a title that is spelled incorrectly, it makes me think the book will be unedited and riddled with errors as well.

Naked women, crazy fonts, models who don’t match the character descriptions, blurred photos, too much going on and misspelled titles. Oh, and let’s not forget to include the covers that are trifling or just downright disgusting. ENOUGH with covers with the likes of a woman sitting on the toilet smoking a cigarette or a dog and blood splattered everywhere. ENOUGH with the word “b*tch” in titles. It is played out and degrading to women! ENOUGH with plastering the words “bestselling author” on covers without actually having made a reputable bestseller’s list. How can anyone claim to be a bestselling author with the first run of their very first book!? What magazine or newspaper stated you were a bestselling author? Who said you were the king or queen of urban-lit? Where are the receipts to support that? Or for that matter, who deemed your book a “classic”? How many years have passed with your book title still being discussed as if it were released yesterday? Have readers all over the world read your titles? Is it required reading in schools across the country? Is your name spoken in the same sentence with Shakespeare, Dickens and the like? No? Be realistic and keep it honest. No need to lie or make up something because YOU think it will sell your book faster.

On the flip side, the back of a book is just as important as the front. A book’s synopsis should be edited just like the story itself. If your synopsis is riddled with errors, make no mistake, potential readers will be turned off. If the synopsis is unedited, chances are great the entire book was not unedited.

Authors, publishers, invest in yourself! I cannot say this enough. INVEST IN YOURSELF! The cover may just be the outside of the book, but trust and believe the cover is what catches the reader’s eye first and foremost. If the cover is appealing, then the synopsis is next. If you do not have those two on lock, your book will be easily overlooked.

Before you put a cover on your book, ask yourself: what can I do to make my book cover unique and stand out from the rest? Does it represent what my story is about? If cover models are used, do they correspond with the characters in the book? Is the cover or title one that I can be proud of in the years to come? Ultimately, as Jodi Picoult said, covers and “stories outlive their writers all the time.”

Leona Romich is an Ohio native. She is an avid reader. Reading has always been a passion of hers, a means of escape to another time and place with the characters she reads about. Leona is an independent book reviewer but also reviews for OOSA, APOOO Book Club, Strebor and Urban Reviews. Al-Saadiq Banks and Bernice McFadden are among her favorite authors as she enjoys a variety of genres.

This Week's Reviews Include...

No Ordinary Love by Elaine AllenBreaking All My Rules by Trice HickmanThe Ace of Diamonds by VogueFriends & Foes by ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher MurrayButterfly by Sylvester StephensUm... Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet (Again) Return to Yuck Kingdom by Jeff Rivera

Teresa Beasley

Book Reviewers

Let's face it - women read more. Surveys consistently find that women read more books than men, especially fiction. Is it surprising then that many reviewers today are women? Well, we managed to pry a few female reviewers from their books to get their take on reviewing from the female perspective.

We hope you enjoy.


Teresa Beasley
Average 11 books a month

Are all reviews valid?

I cannot speak for other reviewers. My reviews are valid opinions of the books I have read and what I have experienced from the content. I take reviewing books very seriously and believe they are helpful tools for the sale of authors’ books.

What must any good review possess?

In my opinion, a good review should possess an overview of what the reviewer received from the book (meaning what they believed the book was about), it should include why the reviewer gave the rating he or she gave, and include reasons the reviewer would recommend the book to others or the reasons the reviewer would not recommend the book to others (such as any issues with editing, content, timeline, and/or storyline).

What would you like to see less of coming from male/female authors in regards to women?

I would like to see less of women being portrayed as victims. What about our men? Do they always have to be portrayed as the villains?

Do you feel black women are accurately portrayed in literature?

If you feel the portrayal is inaccurate, what would you like to see instead? Please don’t let me get started on that…I believe black women are portrayed accurately in some situations. Black women are portrayed as victims, being insecure, being naïve, having no common sense, no self-esteem or being mentally unstable. Black women are rarely portrayed as strong, independent business women that are educated and are fine with being alone. I would like to see more of these stories instead of the same old abuse, men troubles and women trying to take their fellow black woman’s man.

If you could drive one point across to all authors, what would it be and why?

Please, authors, obtain professional editing. A book with potential or a good storyline can be diminished because of lack of editing. Please do not try to edit your own books; even authors that are professional editors still have a professional editor editing their books. Having your book proofread, grammar and spell checked is not getting your work fully edited.

If you could give an overall rating for AA fiction today, what would be your rating?

I would give a 4-star for an overall rating for AA fiction today. In the last two years I have only read about four books that I felt were 5-star books.

Teresa Beasley is an aspiring author, avid reader and book reviewer who enjoys reading and spending time with her family. She is the owner of Got'cha Covered Publishing and PR, a publishing and public relations company that emphasizes and promotes the works of others. Teresa is also the owner of Authors & Readers Book Corner, an informative blog for authors and readers that hosts book tours and reviews. She is a native of Evansville, Indiana, but resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and children. Teresa is currently working on her debut novel, “It Happened to Me.” Her reviews can be found on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Barnes & Noble.


Let's face it - women read more.  Surveys consistently find that women read more books than men, especially fiction. Is it surprising then that many reviewers today are women?  Well, we managed to pry a few female reviewers from their books to get their take on reviewing from the female perspective.

We hope you enjoy!


Some authors don’t read. As a reviewer do you read the reviews of others?

I seldom read the reviews of others because I have discovered that they are either watered down truths or juiced up lies.

If you could change anything about the reviewing process, what would it be?

Reviewing has become very random and everyone’s a critic. Therefore, the weight a review once held is now taken for a grain of salt. I would like to see a format in place that dissects the read from both an objective and subjective stance, allowing the author/publisher/reader a detailed look into the critique of their work. A process that welcomes the voices of all but maintains the integrity of those who take this industry seriously. Ultimately a blueprint that is used to separate the supporter of the author and the reviewer who actually read the book.

Do you feel black women are accurately portrayed in literature? If you feel the portrayal is inaccurate, what would you like to see instead?

Not at all! Let me say this. When the axe came into the forest the trees said, “The handle is one of our own.” I started with that because this accepted and very lowly view of black women is perpetuated by us. How devastating? We are more than neck rolling, gum popping, weave wearing, multiple children having, no to low income, ghetto gossiping, low aspiring men eaters. I would like to see the full scope of whowe are displayed. Black women who need their black men for the right reasons, educated, spiritual, movers and shakers, single women who aren’t sexually loose and fly at the mouth. And black women with black features more importantly. We have natural beautiful hair. We have darker hues than French vanilla. We have beautiful dark brown eyes not hazel. We have full noses and lips. We are very interesting creatures without the stereotypes so I would like to see us painted correctly.

If you could drive one point across to all authors, what would it be and why?

Education specific to this industry is fundamental. Without the knowledge gained from taking English courses, the talent that fueled the beginning of the writing journey will be smothered by editing issues, etc., thus turning what could have been a gem into a stone. Business courses will propel an independent author in all the right directions to success or be a guideline on how to not be bamboozled if they are opting to go with a company. A lack of research/education is evident when not implemented and I don’t suggest that anyone wants to openly look like a fool.

If an author/publisher is interested in having you review their material, what should they know about you as a reviewer?

I spare no punches and I go beyond the review.

Blaze is from New Orleans, La. No matter where I’ve been, there’s no place like it. She is in college earning her Bachelors of Science degree for Early Childhood Education. Blaze is passionate about the growth and expansion of black people. She dabbles a little in creative writing but her true passion is learning then teaching. The birth of Blaze Reviewz came from years of reading and seeing the contradictions of many reviews that lead her down the path of disappointment. Blaze’s reviews can be located on her websitewww.blazereviewz.wordpress.com, Goodreads, Amazon, and Facebook.

Things in the Writing World that Get on My Last Nerve

Stepping to the stage is: Stacy-Deanne

Quantity vs. Quality
One thing I am tired of is the stupid “quantity over quality” thing. Some people believe it’s best to throw out as many books as possible despite the lack of quality. Really? I am so sick of this and I wish authors would stop bowing down to nonsense. You should never put quantity over quality! Why rush your writing? You owe it to yourself to put out the best work you can. These days we have too many people giving this bad advice and all it has produced is a bunch of crappy books.

And who gets burned? The readers and hardworking authors because throwing crap into the world makes us all look bad. Authors need to spend time honing their craft and stop trying to rush everything. Putting out a string of crap is not gonna get you on a fast track to sales. All it’s gonna do is ruin your rep because you’ll be seen as a bad writer with a bunch of crappy books. A clock should not be in the equation when it comes to writing.

Writers Whining About Reviews
Come on. Every single day writers are complaining about reviews. First off, reviews are not for you, but for the readers. I love it when someone goes, “You know I am not one to talk about a negative review but I got this review today…” Well, newsflash, you are talking about it! Shut the heck up. No one cares but you. Not even readers care. You really think readers buy or don’t buy based off of reviews? No. The average reader buys based on recommendations from trusted sources, people they know. You’re wasting time sweating over reviews anyway. The point is if you sign up to put your work in the public eye, you can’t expect everyone to love it. You’re gonna get good reviews, negative reviews and yes, even unfair and downright ridiculous reviews. Just move on. You don’t need to gripe about it, and you certainly don’t need to approach a reviewer who’s given you a bad review. It makes you look bad as an author. Frankly, I would rather a reviewer think I am too busy with my fantastic life to gripe over a review, instead of hovering over every single review I get like some vulture. There are things writers need to concentrate on that are within their control. Reviews are not one of them.

Writers Who Do Not Research
Here we go again. I don’t see how in 2013 writers can still get scammed or taken in by anybody. Come on. When I started in the business, the net wasn’t full of all these resources for writers. I had to go out and research or buy books. Now writers have everything at their fingertips. All they have to do is Google and it would save some heartache. I used to feel sorry for some people but when you are pulled into something that could’ve easily been avoided if only you’d taken one moment to research, you deserve what you get. It’s one thing to research something and be pulled in, but to not do any research when you know jack about the publishing world, then sign with the first person who sends you a contract, it makes no sense. You need to treat signing with a publisher (or anyone in the industry) like you would any important decision. Why would you sign with a publisher without researching them, reading their books, or speaking with their authors? Why would you sign with an agent who charges you a fee, when the biggest red flag is that agents don’t charge fees! Why would you send money to someone to attend an event or festival yet you didn’t even bother to check out the event or festival in the first place? Why would you sign with a “publicist” or “editor” yet you have no knowledge whatsoever of their history, and haven’t checked any references? The point is, you shouldn’t. Laziness and failure to research is not an excuse! If you don’t do all you can to be careful then you should not be surprised when bad things happen.

Some people need to utilize a little more sense. Really.

*Stacy throwing the mic down and walking away*

Stacy-Deanne is an award-winning author of crime/mysteries and suspense novels. She was born and raised and resides in Houston, Texas. Her favorite influences include Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde. Her titles include: Divas of the New Millennium (Amber Communications Group, Inc. 2005), Everlasting (Simon and Schuster 2007), Melody (Simon and Schuster 2008), Giving up the Ghost (Peace in the Storm Publishing 2011) and The Season of Sin (Peace in the Storm Publishing 2012).

This Week's Reviews Include...

Domino Falls by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due The Gospel According to Cane by Courttia NewlandThe Last Station Master: A Boy, a Terrorist, a Secret, and Trouble by S.A.M. PoseyThe Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel): The FBI Espionage Series (Book 1) (Volume 1) by S D SkyeHawaii Three O by Donna Michele RamosW.O.O.F. (Women of Overcoming Faith) by Jeanetta Britt

Laverne aka Missy

Reviewers Spotlight
Let's face it - women read more. Surveys consistently find that women read more books than men, especially fiction. Is it surprising then that many reviewers today are women? Well, we managed to pry a few female reviewers from their books to get their take on reviewing from the female perspective.

We hope you enjoy!

Laverne Brown aka Missy

Averages 5 books a month

What do you wish to achieve with each review? To get as many self-published/independent authors’ books in the hands of readers. But honestly this task is getting harder and harder due to the quality of work being mass produced.

In your opinion, is it important to review everything you read? Umm “to review everything I read.” Well, if I accept a book from an author/publisher or promoter, giving them my word that it will be reviewed, yes, I think it deserves that review. But, no, I don’t review everything; my personal reads will sometimes get a blurb but not a full review.

Do you feel black women are accurately portrayed in literature? If you feel the portrayal is inaccurate, what would you like to see instead? In the books that I read, I am pleased with the female characters. Some are strong protagonists, others are struggling and yet others just don’t get it, and that is our reality.

Before I read a book or accept one from an author, I research the author, their writing and the characters they write about so that I can try to minimize frustrations with things that go against what I believe in as a reviewer.

Many male authors write from the perspective of women through their female characters. Do you find them to be on point? Some are and others are not. RL Taylor, Rickey Teems II, and Brian W. Smith all write about some empowering women who lead, fall and empower others. I enjoy the writing of these three authors, but they will also get down and dirty on their female characters just as they would on the brothers. Rickey Teems wrote about a character named Faith who didn’t start out strong, but she found her strength within her by the end of the story. (Unshakable Faith)

Is reviewing a service that reviewers should be compensated for? When authors throw a book together with minimal care or when they don’t QA their baby after it comes from the publisher, editor or whomever, YES I feel I should be paid. Especially when the editing issues are causing me to read sentences over and over again to figure out what the author is trying to say. It is not my job to determine the author’s message but to deliver that message to other readers.

Missy, derived from Misdemeanor, is a nickname from her reviewing time with RAWSistaz, back in the day. She enjoys reading, dancing at home and working out with Leslie Samson’s “Walk at Home” DVDs. Most important to Missy is her time spent chatting with friends. Her love of books started with a childhood subscription to Scholastic Highlights. Currently you will find her in her Chicago home reading her favorite genre Christian fiction and non-fiction. Missy has several published articles in an online magazine and her reviews can be found online at Amazon.com, Goodreads and Myspace under her book club name of Reader’s Paradise.

Lisa M.

Let's face it - women read more.  Surveys consistently find that women read more books than men, especially fiction. Is it surprising then that many reviewers today are women?  Well, we managed to pry a few female reviewers from their books to get their take on reviewing from the female perspective.

We hope you enjoy.

 Lisa M.
 Averages 15 books a month

Many are satisfied with just reading. Why do you also review? I review because it makes me really examine what I am reading. It makes me look for things in a story that others might not otherwise really pay attention to such as punctuation, spelling, proper use of words, and if thought was really put into the novel. I find when I review I discover new authors and develop a strong sense of familiarity with a lot of them through their writing. If I enjoy the author and have never heard of them before, I tend to go out and purchase other novels written by them just because I enjoyed the first one so much. On the other hand, if I can give some constructive criticism and it helps the next reader to enjoy the novels that the author is producing then I have done my job as a reviewer as I always want to give an honest review.

Do you judge a book by its cover? Sometimes I do. Since I've been reviewing, not as much so as in the past. A cover can be very misleading as I have found while reading some of the books I have reviewed. So I must say not really since I've become a reviewer.

Will you remove or change a review at an author’s request because of a disagreement in your assessment? Unfortunately, I don't think so. I try to be very fair in my reviews and I don't intentionally look for things to critique and criticize an author for, but in reviewing the author should want an honest opinion and should not only seek someone to always compliment them but tell them the truth. If I am anything as a reviewer, I am brutally honest and won't hold back on letting you know how I feel about the novel.

Do you feel black women are accurately portrayed in literature? If you feel the portrayal is inaccurate, what would you like to see instead? I feel sometimes we as black women do get a bum rap in some stories. Sometimes, though, we really do come off like the characters in some of these books. I would like to see us portrayed in a more positive way, not always having to come off as bitchy or argumentative, mouthy, etc, but a lot of the times, unfortunately, the characters tend to show a lot of some black women's attributes. Thankfully we are all not like that.

If you could drive one point across to all authors, what would it be and why? Please edit your work, read and re-read the product you are putting out for people to purchase. Put a lot of thought into the storyline. I so hate to read a novel and there are so many grammatical errors, missed words, incorrect spellings, and non-flowing storylines. I just cringe when I have to review a book like that! Please, please, please get a proper editor; that is all!

Lisa M is a happily married mother of five. She works for a dialysis facility in Illinois. Lisa loves to read and finds great pleasure in getting lost in a great book. Great books transport her to a relaxing place where she can escape the everyday hustle and bustle of life, if only for a few hours. She is a member of The Real Divas Read 012812 Book Club, a fun loving bunch. Lisa is also a reviewer for OOSA Online Book Club. Her reviews can be found on Amazon or Goodreads.

Tuesday Recommendations

Snitch by L.J. WilsonSleeping With The Enemy by Clarissa JohnsonSinners and Saints by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate BillingsleyShattered by Kia DuPreeSerial Typical by Michelle Janine Robinson