We're very happy to have Regency Historical author Vanessa Kelly join us today! Her new book Sex and the Single Earl just came out this week!

Vanessa was born and raised in New Jersey, but eventually migrated north to Canada. Yay for us Canucks! She holds a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University, and went on to attend the Ph.D. program in English Literature at the University of Toronto. (GULP!) Alas, she didn’t finish her degree, but she did spend many happy hours studying the works of 18th century British authors and writing about the madness of King George III. In addition to writing historical romance, Vanessa also writes contemporary romance for Carina Press with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.

Thanks for joining us Vanessa!

Thanks Joanna! Great to be hanging out with the popculturedivas!

This week sees the release of my current Regency-set historical romance, Sex And The Single Earl.  Cute title, isn’t it?  Really sexy and fun, and an obvious riff on the famous book by Helen Gurley Brown. 

And take a look at my cover over on the right.  Whew!  Pretty hot. 
Put together the title with that cover and you can only come to one conclusion – sex sells books.  That’s obviously what publishing houses think when it comes to romance, and I’m not about to argue with them.

Book titles are tricky.  More often than not, they’re something that makes authors want to tear their hair out, as editors reject one suggestion after another.  Frequently, the process is taken right out of our hands and we end up with a title that is really, really different from how we envision the book.

That didn’t happen to me with this book, but neither was my editor satisfied with the first title I proposed:  An Angel For The Earl.  I loved it because I thought it said a lot about my heroine, Sophie.  She’s quirky and sweet, and a veritable dynamo when it comes to protecting the weak and the unfortunate.  I also just thought it was a pretty title and a little bit different.

What was my editor’s first response?  Boring.  Not sexy enough.

Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.  You might think, then, that I went through some complicated process to come up with a new title.  Nope.  Instead, my husband and I cracked open a bottle of wine (it was cocktail hour) and started brainstorming.  We wanted to keep “Earl” in the title, so my readers would know right off that it was a Regency historical.  But sexy?  Arggh!  It was making us nuts!  Finally, when we’d killed the bottle of wine, my husband, in a demented flash of inspiration, said “how about Sex And The Single Earl?”

When we picked ourselves up from the floor where we were rolling around laughing, I emailed the suggestion to my editor – mostly as a joke.  Imagine my surprise when he immediately came back with the response that he liked it.  And the more I thought about it the more I liked it, too.  After all, my hero is a very sexy guy, and the book is a very sexy book.  Plus, it’s a fun, hip title, and is pretty eye-catching. 

I’m happy to say the title has gotten a phenomenal response.  People love it.  They get the joke, and also what it says about the book.  There have been a few dissenting voices, who think it’s silly.  Well, it is a bit silly, but that’s part of why I like it.

But at the end of the day, I think what have here is that tried and true marketing maxim:  sex sells.

So, readers.  What do you think of my title?  And my cover?  Do you think sex sells romance novels?  Or do you long for the days of stepbacks and more discrete covers?  One lucky commenter will win a copy of Sex And The Single Earl.


  1. Hi Vanessa: Welcome!!! I love the title of your book! I knew right off the bat that the both the title and the cover would get a lot of attention. Which is great for marketing. I mean the truth is you can write the best book ever and if it has a ho-hum cover and a boring title then it won't sell. So good on you for er - "brainstorming" with your hubby. ;) And you can tell him - he is great at coming up with titles! That should be his official job from now on. ;) Cheers!

  2. Sex will certainly help to sell "Sex and the Single Earl"! That is one hot, hunky cover! The "Earl" looks as though he has already been very naughty, and is quite ready to be much, much naughtier!!! The cover image is quite appropriate for the title of the book.

    It is very important for me that the cover and the back blurb match the content of the book in the appearance of the characters and the story line detail. I empathize with authors who are "stuck" with unfortunate covers. I recently read a very good historical romance which was misrepresented by the cover image and the story detail back blurb. It was a "five star story" with a "one star front and back cover".

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  3. Thanks for having me on the blog, Joanna! I'll let my husband know you approve. He is great at coming up with titles - our contemporary is coming out soon from Carina Press. The title is CaddyGirls, and it's about a female golf caddy. I think he did a great job with that one, too.

    Thanks for stopping by, Virginia! It's one of an author's worst fears to be stuck with a bad cover and a bad blurb.

  4. Hi Vanessa!

    I love the title AND the cover. It really is true that the right title can make all the difference, and "Sex and The Single Earl" is amazing!!

    I do think sex can sell romance, though personally, it'd be nice to have both sexy stories and snuggly stories. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed when it seems sex has to be thrown in everytime.

    However, when the story is mainly about the sizzle, it's mandatory!!

    Great interview! Wishing you much success and many sales.

    --Chiron O'Keefe

  5. Yep - the title grabbed me the first time I saw it on FB a few days ago. So, I was so delighted to see the post today.

  6. Hi Chiron! So nice to "see" you! Clearly, sex does sell, or there wouldn't be so many half-naked men and women on romance covers.

    Hi Kathy! It is a title that grabs, isn't it?

  7. Hi, Vanessa. I'm looking forward to reading SATSE! I like the cover of this book. Congrats on the release.

  8. Love the title, love the cover and KNOW I'll love the book! After all it's a VK!
    Can't wait to get hold of one.
    Congrats Vanessa

  9. Thanks again Vanessa for joining us today! Hope you'll come back very soon. ;) Good luck with your new releases. ;)

  10. Thanks, MariElle! And thanks for having me on, Joanna!

  11. Yay for brainstorming husbands - when you're not afraid to throw everything out there, even the things that sound silly - look what comes up!

  12. The cover and title are perfect. Turquoise is an in color this year.

  13. Hi..I’m Barb….I am from FF.. I am your newest follower. I hope you will get a chance to visit my blog @
    & get inspired by something for your family/home. I hope you will follow me as well. Nice to meet ya
    New friend!!

  14. I think the title Sex and the Single Earl is fantastic and fun and the cover is evocative of that naughty fun as well. I think sex sells, but your title and cover don't go overboard. I do like stepbacks, but I don't think the cover has to be a picture of a flower or castle or something, I always like a nice hot couple.
    I'm looking forward to picking up a copy, it sounds like a great read.


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