Can a Cover Sell a Novel?


I hope so because I picked the cover photo for my new medical thriller Ignore the Pain.

 How did I have the audacity to pick the photo? I’ll avoid obvious answers and just say I’m no expert, but I’ve looked at lots of covers and have opinions.

 A good cover is like a good title. It suggests the topic of the book and is catchy. I like bright primary colors for thrillers and adventure books, pastels for romances, and dark moody colors for horror and mystery novels because the colors convey a message.

 Those of you who are sophisticated in your choice of covers have probably concluded that I’m very traditional. Now look at the cover of my new medical thriller.

 Ignore the Pain is set partially in Bolivia, and the heroine Sara Almquist is an epidemiologist serving as a public health consultant there. But this is a public health assignment gone awry. At one point Sara is chased across the roof of Iglesia de San Francisco in La Paz, Bolivia and peers down at the Witches Market below. Thus cover needed to suggest Bolivia and a woman adventurer.

 I looked at hundreds (maybe even thousands) of pictures of scenes in South America, None seemed right. They were too pretty and gave no hint about my protagonist. Then I saw this photo with the colors of the Bolivian flag drawn across the face of a blue-eyed woman, like Sara. This woman looked like she had guts.

 Time will tell whether I chose a cover photo that helps to sell the book.

Feeling guilty about writing a blog with so few facts, I surfed the WEB for information on “choosing a cover for a book.” I found blogs by authors showing readers two to five choices of covers for upcoming books and collecting votes for which cover was best. There were quite a few ads by professional cover designers who didn’t seem to want to admit their secrets. Nothing very interesting or new.

Billie Johnson, my publisher at Oak Tree Press, gave the most useful advice on selecting a cover photo. She called the picture we selected “a real grabber.” I hope this blog encourages you grab for attention when you select your next cover.

Blurb: In Ignore the Pain, Sara Almquist couldn’t say no when invited to be the epidemiologist on a public health mission to assess children’s health in Bolivia. Soon someone from her past in New Mexico is chasing her through the Witches’ Market of La Paz and trying to trap her at the silver mines of Potosí. Unfortunately, she can’t trust her new colleagues, especially the unsavory Xave Zack, because any one of them might be under the control of the coca industry in Bolivia.

 Bio: JL Greger is no longer a biology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; instead she’s putting tidbits of science into her novels.



Ignore the Pain is the third novel in a series that tracks the adventures of epidemiologist Sara Almquist and her more reserved sister – physician Linda Almquist. In the suspense novel Coming Flu, Sara identifies a drug kingpin trapped in a quarantined community , while tracking the spread of the deadly Philippine flu. In the medical mystery Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, Linda Almquist must discover whether the killer is an ambitious young “diet doctor” or old-timers with buried secrets about the medical school.

 JL lives with Bug, her Japanese Chin dog and the only non-fiction character, in her novels. Her website is at Her blog JL Greger’s Bugs is at

 Amazon sell links:

 Coming Flu:



Janet Greger said…
Thanks for hosting me, Marilyn. YOu titles are always great you must have special insights into choosingtitles.
You are always welcome to visit me, Janet. As for titles, some come to me before I write the book, others I agonize over long after I'm done.

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