Take Ten with...Sarah Mayberry

Interview - Take Ten With Sarah Mayberry by Linnae Crady

Author Sarah Mayberry gives Cover Cafe
her take on romance book covers!

The Magic Faraway Tree

1. What was the first book you remember reading? Can you describe the cover of the book and did you like the cover?

I honestly canít remember the first book I remember reading. There are a number that made a big impression on me in Primary School. I loved Enid Blyton a lot, so letís go with one of hers, since they were so much fun. I used to love imagining the world of The Magic Faraway Tree and I often used to refer back to the images of Silky and Moonface depicted on the covers as I read. I love the color and all the magical, fairytale elements included in this cover image.

2. Have you ever purchased a book because of the cover alone? If yes, which one and why?

I donít think so. I have definitely been attracted to a book by its cover, and picked it up and red the blurb and a few random pages and bought it... But Iíve never bought in a fit of cover lust! My reading time is so precious these days I want to be as sure as I can be that Iím going to be rewarded for the time I invest.

3. When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

I used to bring paper home from kindergarten, fold it in half, staple the spine and write and illustrate ďbooksĒ. When I was a little older, my sister and I set up a ďlibraryĒ in our house where we made little borrowing slips and taped them inside the covers of all our books. And when I was in High School, I started to write my own versions of the books I adored - Sweet Valley High and Trixie Belden etc. I have always loved reading, and writing felt like a natural extension of that longing to be in imagined worlds.

4. Who gave you your first break in publishing?

I won a radio competition when I was in Year 7 (first year of high school in Australia) for a short story I wrote. I had to go into the station to read my story out, and they gave me one of the very earliest computers, a system you had to hook up to your TV and program yourself. That definitely gave me the confidence to keep writing. In terms of actually having my work published, that didnít happen until I had graduated from my arts degree. I submitted a story to a teen magazine called Looks, and they published it in their summer fiction special. I still have a photocopy of that first cheque - my first payment for writing!

Sisters in the City

5. What was your first published book and what did the cover look like? Did you love it or hate it and why?

My first published book was actually a spin-off novel based on the long-running serial drama TV show that I still write for in Australia, Neighbours. The show was celebrating itís 20th anniversary and they approached me (along with some of the shows other writers) to write a novel featuring characters who had left the show. I wound up writing 3 - Sisters in the City, Summer Harvest and Rising Star. All the covers featured cartoon-y illustrations, because the publisher didnít want to pay for the rights to use the original actorsí faces, I believe. They were my first books, so I thought they were pretty awesome, but my favorite was definitely Sisters in the City.

6. Do you believe a cover can increase or decrease the sales of a book? Have any covers affected the sales of your books?

Oh, a cover can definitely make a book more or less appealing. There are a certain number of readers who shop by author, but many are cruising the virtual or real book racks, looking for something to jump-start their interest. A great cover or even a great title will get them to stop and pay attention. As for covers affecting books sales...There are so many factors that determine sales success or failure. What was my competition that month? Where there 5 cops-protecting-heroine stories and mine got lost in the mix? Did a long-awaited sequel from a best-selling author hit the shelves the same day as mine? Do I have a snappy tittle? Does the back blurb ďsellĒ the book sufficiently? Has it been merchandised properly? Did the story I wrote have broad appeal? Has the book received good word-of-mouth or been given a push by the publisher? At the end of the day, readers only have a finite book buying budget, and many, many things can contribute to them deciding for or against purchasing one of my books. Iíd be loathe to pin it down solely to a cover.

7. What trends do you see in book covers currently and in the future?

With self publishing gaining speed, there are a lot of - for want of a better word - amateurish covers out there. I think that needs to change, because attracting readers to self-published fare is tough enough that writers shouldnít be giving them reasons NOT to buy by presenting a less than professional image right from the get-go. I love how elaborate and lush and colorful historical romance covers have become, more focussed on the fashion than on men in ripped shirts and whatnot. Iíd like to see more inventiveness in contemporary romance covers. Itís sometimes hard to capture the mood of a contemporary romance because there arenít the same props and fashion elements to draw on with historicals, but that doesnít mean contemporary covers need to be dull or cookie cutter.

Burning Up

8. What has been your least favorite cover from all of your releases and why?

Another tough question. I have never hated a cover with a passion, but if I had to pick one that doesnít speak to me as much as the others, I guess it would be Burning Up. He looks a bit slippery, and the heroine in the book, Sophie, had short, red, pixie-cut hair, and the woman on the cover has long red hair. And I wasnít too sure about the fridge. Nine and a Half Weeks aside, the fridge has never had very romantic/sexy connotations for me!

9. What has been your favorite book cover from all of your releases and why?

I have no idea how to answer this, because my favorite changes all the time. The art department at Harlequin features some incredibly talented people, and I have been blessed with some pretty amazing covers. Of my Blazebooks, I love All Over You the most, because both Grace and Mac look as I envisaged them, and I love how sexy and also how private the moment appears - as though weíre glimpsing them around a corner, almost.

Of my Super Romances, I like All They Need the most, I think because itís so warm and (to me, anyway!) you can really feel the connection between Flynn and Mel. And Iím also really proud of the cover on my first self-published book, Her Best Worst Mistake. Itís sexy, classy and a bit naughty - whatís not to love about that?

All Over You All They Need Her Best Worst Mistake

Sarah's cover from her release, All They Need, placed 8th in the
Series category in Cover Cafe's 2011 Romance Cover Contest.

10. Do you have a current or upcoming release to share with Cover Cafe? Please give us the details and a peek at the cover, too!

Suddenly You

I have a release coming up in November, a Super Romance called Suddenly You. This is the story of Harry and Pippa. Harry is the brother of the heroine from All They Need, and heís a bit of a party boy. At 29, he still lives a pretty care-free existence, surfing with his buddies, keeping things light and easy with girlfriends. Pippa is Harryís best friendís ex, and there are lots of reasons for Harry to not get involved with her, including the fact that sheís a single mother. But sometimes no matter what your head tells you, your heart has other ideas... I had a lot of fun writing this book, and Iím hoping readers fall in love with Harry as much as I did.

Thank You Sarah!

Sarah Mayberry's website

Linnae Crady () (October 15, 2012)

Back to the Take Ten With feature page.

Author image, and covers are displayed with permission from author.