Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ASK PZM: Sept 2012 book covers

It's the first Wednesday of the month,



Welcome to my 2nd IWSG post. I hope you enjoy Phyllis's post on Book Covers.



Ask PZM Sept 2012 book covers

Q: How important do you think book covers are for marketing a book?  What are the important elements of a cover?

While I am no expert on this subject, I do have strong opinions about these questions.  (And I did take advertising design courses at then-Philadelphia College of Arts in the ‘70s.)
With the huge number of physical book and ebooks bought online these days, a book cover is probably worth a thousand words.  In other words, a book cover is very important.
In fact, it is probably more important than in the past because online it is so easy to click away if the cover of a book does not attract us.
And the additional issue is how small the size of a book cover is online.  For example, the cover size on a book’s page on Amazon is decent.  But when you do a search on Amazon and get several book selections, the cover size then is pretty small.
Bottom line?  You should give serious consideration to how your book cover is going to “read” online.

Now let’s talk about important elements of the actual cover:

First, does the type font make it easy to read the title?
Full disclosure:  I do not think the type font on the book cover of my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT is very easy to read.  When the cover was designed 4 ½ years ago by BookSurge (before the company was merged into CreateSpace) I did not really think of how the cover would look online.  In retrospect, I should have.
On the other hand, I had a lot of input about the cover art.  I wanted four very different young women – and that was my introduction to istock.com when I got to choose the faces.
Second, does the cover set the tone of the book?  Can prospective readers tell immediately whether the book is nonfiction or fiction?  Or is the art interesting but too overwhelming for the small size of the cover online?
The same way we have to ruthlessly edit our manuscripts is the way we have to “edit” our book covers if we are self-publishing.
And if we are not self-publishing, can we convince a traditional publisher to allow us say in the cover?
Yes, I know that major publishers may often rely on the marketing department to determine what kind of cover “sells” for a particular genre.  But clarity is still required for any kind of cover.

If you are working with a book cover designer, you may be in good hands.  Just remember, though, that designers think in terms of design.  A book author needs to think in terms of marketing.

Q:  What about the importance of titles?

Again, this is not my area of expertise although I can offer some advice.
It is a good idea these days to think both in terms of clarity and keywords (words found in searches online).
For example, I originally called my newest novel FALL GUY.  But my business partner Yael K. Miller suggested CIA FALL GUY, which is a much better title for an espionage story revolving around the CIA.
I purposely added a subtitle for MRS. LIEUTENANT – A SHARON GOLD NOVEL.  This was to make clear that the novel was not the same as the booklet we new officers’ wives bought at the PX to help us learn how to become good officers’ wives.
In retrospect, LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS, the title of the technothriller I wrote with my husband Mitch, might be mistaken for a nonfiction book.  But the cover art is of a submarine and not a person, so that probably helps clarify the title.
Why are effective titles often so hard to choose? 
Part of the problem is that the meaning of the title of a book we write is very obvious to us.  But it may not be so obvious to others.  And this goes for nonfiction as well as fiction.
In conclusion, the book cover “look” and the title work together to signal prospective readers what a book is about – or to confuse prospective readers.  It is up to us the authors that the signal is as clear as possible.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks.  A new nonfiction ebook of hers is TOPTIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK
and her newest fiction ebook is the thriller CIA FALL GUY. 
Click here to visit her Amazon author page at amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller
She also has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company http://www.MillerMosaicLLC.com

39 comments :

  1. Interesting information for me at this time as I am working with a CA on a book cover for my non-fiction e-book for girls. So many things to think about...Who knew? Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Janet. Phyllis is unable to leave comments on my blog for some reason, but she's glad you found it helpful.

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  2. I also published five of my books with Book Surge (now Create Space); I liked how I had a lot of input in the final product. With my first book, though, I didn't choose a good image and color for online visibility. We do learn, however. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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    1. The hurdles we have to master never end. Thanks, Laurel for commenting. Phyllis says thanks too. We've yet to figure out why she can't leave a comment.

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  3. No matter how many times we hear "don't judge a book by it's cover" covers are important. While it's not the deciding factor for me it can catch my eye or put me off. Same with titles. I'd never thought about checking how a cover would look online though. Great advice.

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    1. I do the same thing, Sara. Unless the book's by someone I know. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Absolutely! I dabble in book cover design, and I adore every aspect of it. Did you get a chance to see my post on covers and colors back in July? We only have one chance to make a first impression! :)

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    1. I checked it out. You are so talented. And I'm so proud. I should start telling people I'm your mum. Would your mother mind??? Course, I suppose she wants the credit.

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  5. I agree, covers are often the first introduction we have to a book. I hate to admit it, but I have breezed past a book that had a cover I didn't care for. It's hard to please a diverse audience, but I think it's important to try to make it as nice as possible.

    Thanks, Phyllis, for the tips and insight! Thanks, Joylene, for being a wonderful host. :)

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I'm guilty of choosing a book by its cover too, if I don't already recognize the author.

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  6. I love covers! They definitely tell me whether or not I want to click on the title to learn more about the book. As for titles--they are the BANE of my existence.

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    1. Hi Adriana. Phyllis can't leave a comment on my blog; we've yet to determine why; she was wondering if you're talking personally or when choosing a book to read.

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  7. Both titles and covers are hugely important. Though I have a design background, I knew nothing about cover art. I gave my publisher my ideas for images that would show what the book was about. they stuck to it pretty well and even listened to my color preferences. Next time though, I think I'll ask Carrie Butler for her advice first. She's awesome. As for the title, a lot of writers have a hard time with them. Mine came to me just like the rest of the book, via the muse who wouldn't shut the heck up. I've always had positive feedback on my title. I guess we'll see how it all turns out int a few weeks.

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    1. I agree totally, Nancy. Carrie's awesome. Yes, I'm so excited about your book! Hope you're sleeping well.

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  8. This is another great and info-packed interview. Many thanks, Joylene and Phyllis!

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  9. Hi Joylene and Phyllis and honourable mention to the ubiquitous Alex J.,
    See that, I know some big words, eh.
    I was thinking of copying and pasting the lovable Nancy Thompson's comment:)
    Okay, almost seriously, I reckon book covers that capture the attention might be half the battle. You know like some folks are drawn to the brightly coloured products in the supermarket. A catchy title would certainly help. I reckon my book, titled, "My Previous Book", would get someone's interest.
    Oh, before I go, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star has been asked to do a guest posting on a certain blog site. Frankly, I'm getting rather jealous of her.
    Okay Joylene, my incoherent rambling is just about over. I hope you managed to have a decent Labour Day, or 'Labor' Day as some might spell it.
    Your starstruck fan, Gary

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    1. My kidlit's not feeling so good, so I spent labour day in the smelly hospital. Uck! But I just thought of something, so I better not ramble too much or I'll forget...

      Oh right, when we were building our home here on the lake, we'd take a break and go to the resort for supper and a beer. We did this a few times when the patron asked if we had a TV. We replied rather sadly, "No." He said, "Thought so. You both keep looking up every time there's a commercial."

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  10. Great info about book covers. So much goes into them to attract readers' attention.

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  11. Say, what was that again about never judging a book by its cover?

    Great bits of information here. Definitely food for thought when the time comes for my work to actually be published.

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  12. I loved this post and completely agree that book covers are SO important. Even though I write Horror (with romance elements), I hope that if I ever get pubbed I'll get a super-romantic cover that will have all the teen girls picking it up. :-)

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  13. Timely post as I am designing covers for three books (one of mine, two collaborative ones. Especially liked your comment about making sure it works in a small size. Thanks for sharing. Helen
    _____________________________________________
    Helen Henderson
    Stories that take you to the stars, the Old West, or worlds of imagination.

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    1. Thanks, Helen. You're my first Old West writer in eons. Happy IWSG.

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  14. This is very interesting to me since we're just designing my book cover now:-) Some food for thought . . .

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  15. It's the first thing I see. Among the sea of books, it's what leads the eye. I think it's very important. Same with the title.

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  16. It's so important these days to have a great cover. We're long past the days when you can do it yourself too, unless you're a really talented artist. I do think a poorly conceived cover can thwart potential sales. We're such a visual society.

    Nice to meet you!

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  17. Like Karen, I rarely pick up a book if the cover doesn't appeal, unless I'm hunting up a particular title or author. Online visuals haven't been something I've thought much about but it's certainly a whole different concept to consider. I know I prefer specific types of cover art but I don't expect I'll have a lot of say about mine if I ever get to the publication stage with certain publishing houses.

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    1. I'm looking forward to that day, Carol. And I suspect they will take your opinion to heart when deciding what the cover should like. You have an air of professionalism about you. I know that sounds stuffy but I personally would sit up and listen when you spoke.

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  18. We all know we aren't supposed to make snap cover judgements, but it happens all the time. I do it to. Good design can make or break almost anything.

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  19. I have actually met someone who only buys books if she likes the covers of them. So I guess a great book cover is essential. Thank you so much for stopping by and followig my blog.

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    1. Thank you, Murees. I wonder if she's ever disappointed.

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  20. Once again, very informative and interesting.
    I'm a cover lover. I consider them all art work, and---for me---if I know nothing about the book previous to seeing the cover, the cover will often be THE factor to make me look.

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