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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Mags’ Gets A MakeOver

Good Morning Everyone!

Just popped by with a quick update for anyone from my blogging circle of friends, who were involved in this discussion a few weeks ago, although of course it would also be great to gather thoughts from anyone new to the conversation …


The Original Cover Art Image For 'Mags And The AARP Gang' by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

This was the original cover image for the book, which provoked quite a strong response from readers, who didn’t consider the picture enticing enough to make them consider purchasing the book for themselves, without many of them even being aware of the storyline. There was no offence intended, or given, to the individuals who were used as cover models, it was more a matter of overall first perceptions.

Nancy Jarvis was doing what all good authors should be doing and tracking comments on blogs which were featuring and discussing her book.

Photograph of Cozy Mystery author Nancy Lynn JarvisNancy Lynn Jarvis

Her reaction was swift … if that many people in one such small community as Fiction Books, were pretty much unanimous in their thinking, then something was surely amiss.

Her action was decisive … a swift re-think of the cover art was required, to head off any further criticism which might detract from the book’s success, in what is already fierce competition in the marketplace.

I guess the dilemma for Nancy would have been whether to opt for a total change of cover design and go for a generic, slightly more obscure image, which somehow reflected the premise of the story, or to stick to her original concept of introducing the human touch to the first impressions readers would get of the book …

This is Nancy’s response to the dilemma ….


Great job Nancy. Having read the book, I can see Mags, Melvin, Jean and Larry, looking back at me, just as I visualised them all, from your excellent descriptive narrative.

Thanks for listening to our collective, hopefully constructive criticism and I hope that the book is enjoying the continued success you had hoped for.

My review will be available very soon … but just to give you an indication as to my thoughts, the ‘potted version’ reads … “I LOVED IT”


Mags and her gang of renegade octogenarians have a deadline. They have to rob Bayside Community Bank, the bank about to foreclose on the mobile home park where they live, by a week from Friday so they can pay off the mortgage and save their homes. They’ve cased the joint, planned carefully, assembled their disguises, rehearsed their every move — what could possibly go wrong? Plenty.

Some people think they can take advantage of the elderly. They haven’t met Mags and the AARP gang or they’d know better. Sure, they’re older, but not too old for the adventure of a lifetime or to risk everything for the sake of friendship.


Photograph of Cozy Mystery author Nancy Lynn JarvisNancy Lynn Jarvis has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor for twenty years.  She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News.  A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later, time spent as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years.  Writing is her newest adventure.

In her first series of four books, she invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries.  Details and ideas come from Nancy’s own experiences and she is always amused when readers comment how unlikely some of the crimes seem, as after the publication of each novel, she has come across news reports of crimes similar to the ones in her books, debunking any possibility that they are unrealistic, even if the circumstances have been rearranged a little.

Also, if you are one of Nancy’s clients or colleagues, read carefully. You may find characters in her books who seem familiar.  You may know the people who inspired them. You may even see yourself in print, as many of her fictional characters, are in fact based on people she has known, but creatively enhanced.

For her latest book, Nancy has put the realtor crime scene on hold, whilst she ventures a little deeper into the realms of the ‘cozy mystery’, with ‘Mags and the AARP Gang’.

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • There is so much riding on the cover. I do think it can make or break a book, regardless of the contents. Readers/buyers really do judge a book by its cover. I hope this move is successful for Nancy and that it helps bring more readers into her story, which sounds delightful.

    • Hi Kathryn,

      Although I do try not to judge a book by its cover, I do agree that it is very difficult not to be influenced by first appearances.

      I do think that the cover art and images should always be relevant to the storyline, I don’t appreciate having to second-guess the author, although it often sounds as though the author has little to do with choosing the cover art and are rather left at the mercy of the publishers!

      I don’t want to give too much away before my review, however the premise for ‘Mags And The AARP Gang’ was so unique, that I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. I was both rather relieved and very pleased to discover that the book did in fact ‘tick all the boxes’ for me and that I found the reading experience both enjoyable and thought provoking.

      The original cover, whilst I was loathe to criticise it when I was first invited to review book, never really worked for me, as the image of Mags just wasn’t as I pictured her. When fellow readers and bloggers also began to openly comment, it was just obvious that the cover art wasn’t working at all. Having now read the book, I can honestly say that the new cover choice is a true representation of ‘the gang of four’ and looks much more inviting to the casual reader.

      Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t forgotten about your guest post, it will publish in a couple of weeks, did you want me to include any pictures amongst the text, if so please forward them on to me.

      Have a great weekend.

    • Hi Lainy,

      I agree with much of your comment.

      If I am shopping for a book by a specific author, who is either known to me, or has been recommended to me by someone I trust, then I probably wouldn’t even bother about the cover when purchasing. Once I had the book home ready to read I would probably then look at the cover more closely and expect it to be at least loosely relevant to the premise, but it wouldn’t have stopped me making my decision to purchase.

      The good news is, that to me, the new cover for ‘Mags…’ is a perfect fit for the premise of what is both an uplifting and poignant story.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and join in the discussion, I always love to read your comments.

  • Wow Yvonne, that goes to show just what an effect the blogging community can have on books, authors and reading in general. I’m a sucker for a good book cover, it can totally be a deal breaker for me. Glad you loved this one so much, I’m looking forward to your review.

    • Hi Naida,

      I am not so sure that the cover rethink was entirely down to us, as Nancy did indicate that she had already received some less than positive feedback and was working on a few ideas for a cover change.

      I do find it encouraging however, that an author should be actively following published comments about their work, no matter how small and insignificant the source and is prepared to act upon popular opinion .. and so quickly!

      I am running some way behind on my actual reviews, however it is definitely on the way.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

  • Rightfully or wrongly a book cover can greatly contribute towards the sale of a book.

    Having looked at both covers I do prefer the newer one to the original if only because Mags face is full of character which makes me want to know more about her – something that the original cover didn’t particularly do.

    • Hi Tracy,

      Unfortunately, or fortunately for everyone concerned in the sales chain, there are so many readers out there, who will do nothing other than purchase a book purely on its cover art, so much so, that they wouldn’t buy a book that they really wanted to read, if the cover image was not right as well!

      There is definitely a huge improvement in the new cover image for ‘Mags …’, which as you so rightly say, is down to the facial characteristics of the people involved. Once Nancy starts to describe this octogenarian ‘gang of four’, you would soon see exactly how perfect a match the cover artists are now, so much so that I am almost expecting the cover crew to start talking like their fictional counterparts and acting out their roles!

      The story was almost believable and given the outlook for elderly people into the future, which for many is destined to be bleak to say the least, not quite so far fetched as it may sound. The underlying issues which the book addresses, are very much just below the surface if you scratch deeply enough and make for some thought provoking moments, to temper some of the laugh out loud lines with which Nancy lightens proceedings!

      Thanks for taking the time to respond and continue the earlier conversation about the cover issue, I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

  • Being brutally honest, I still don’t like the new cover, but I do agree that it is better than the old cover (working in the design/print industry, I suspect I’m hard to please!). I think it might be the use of close up faces and photos on the cover. Unless it’s a biography, it’s actually quite rare to use a close up of a face on a cover or even a picture of someone who is identifiable. Readers tend to build their own picture of a character/characters and not everyone’s will be the same. I do think an illustrated image of the characters might have worked better here or even another image altogether.

    However… Despite all that, I actually think the book (which is the most important aspect) sounds like a fun and interesting read, and I’m quite looking forward to reading your review.

    • Hi Nikki,

      The seond cover version is so much better than the original and actually works really well with the characters in the storyline. They all fit their cover images perfectly, from the way Nancy has described them in the narrative, especially Mags, who has the authentic expressions of how I picture her, in the revised art work.

      I too, am not really all that keen on using identifiable people on cover art, for exactly the situation which has arisen here. There has been no offence intended towards any of the people featured in the cover photo, however it can’t be good for them to see readers comments which are less than complimentary, especially the original Mags. If you happen to catch this post Nancy, please take these thoughts to the people concerned.

      Actually my next post also deals with cover art, although in a completely different way, so workng as you do, in the design/print industry, it would be good to get your take on this alternative look and approach to the same subject. The post should be published either Sunday or Monday, so if you have time to drop by, that would be great.

  • I admit that I’m a cover snob, but would have read the book even with the original cover because the story line is so different and that’s what grabbed me. But, I only read the blurb because it was your post, if I had seen the book in a bookstore etc. I would have just passed on it.

    • Hi Vicki,

      For me, that is all part of the joy of blogging. To be able to share new books and authors and get a whole different perspective on genres of writing which perhaps I may never have bothered with, if left to my own devices.

      I must admit that I too would have walked past this book on the shelf in the bookshop, however as a review request, it was a new experience waiting to be sampled and hopefully enjoyed.

      And enjoy it I most certainly did, although I don’t want to keep giving away details here and there, when the review will be available soon.

      I am not sure that using real and identifiable people as cover models is a brilliant strategy and is not a technique that I would want to come across very often. However I have to say that in this instance, it certainly enhanced the storyline rather than spoiling it and made the overall experience more engaging and human.

      I do try not to be a cover snob, in fact when I receive a book as a Kindle or PDF download, there are often times when I never bother looking at the cover. As I begin to write feature posts for a book, I do then become more aware of the cover art and may pass comment on it, either to myself, or as a throwaway remark in one of said posts, but a bad cover would never put me off reading a book.

      Thanks for joining in the discussion and I hope that you have enjoyed a good weekend.

Written by Yvonne