|Photo by Tom Murphy VII|
I know I do. I may be an author, but I'm also a reader.
When I’m walking through a bookstore that’s exactly what I’m doing. Cover after cover, title after title. I only pick up ones that grab me or peak my interest. It doesn’t mean I’ll buy them, but they don’t even stand a chance if the cover doesn’t work.
Obviously, I’m talking about books by authors I don’t know or haven’t read before. If I know and love the author, I’ll buy the book whether I like the cover or title at all. But I’m always on the lookout for a new book and new authors and, with them, the covers and titles definitely matter.
This issue often creates a challenge between authors and the marketing folks in traditional publishing houses. When authors finish a book, we’ve typically spent between 6 months and a year on it. For most of that time we’ve been calling it something; often referred to as a “working title.” It’s called that because the author’s title rarely survives the marketing process (unless you're a mega bestselling author. In which case, you get to call all the shots). My books are selling well, but that's not my situation.
I have 8 published novels on the shelf now, 2 more due out in Sept and next April. Both have official covers and titles already fixed. Of those 10 books, guess how many of my working titles made it onto the actual books? Only 4. Six of my titles are not mine. Some (won’t say which ones) I didn’t even like. I will tell you which titles were mine: The Deepest Waters, Remembering Christmas, The Dance and What Follows After (the one due out next April).
As for my covers, I’ve liked all but 4 (won’t say which ones). My biggest gripe is probably when we settle on a cover that, to me, seems to have absolutely no tie-in to the book. I’ve actually gone back with a couple of my books, after the cover was decided on, and added several paragraphs to the story so the reader won’t be asking, “Now what in the world does that cover have to do with this book?”
I’m curious…how much do you judge a book by its cover and/or its title? Does it matter much to you when considering a book by an author you don’t know? Have you bought books with covers and/or titles you didn’t find appealing? Do you have any pet peeves about covers and titles?
While I’m asking questions, I’d like to get some feedback from you on a couple of title matters. My 2nd book with Gary Smalley comes out in September, called The Promise. I wanted to call the book The Broken Portrait. That got nixed because the marketing folks thought it might be too negative. I don’t think it is and, to me, it works much better for the story. Be honest, would you consider buying a book called The Broken Portrait?
To my fellow published authors, do any of you struggle at all with this? Have any similar challenges? To everyone, can you think of any books you actually bought just because the cover and/or title were so good?
Okay, let me have it.
http://danwalshbooks.com. He also blogs weekly with fellow male fiction authors Jim Rubart and Harry Kraus at: http://3menwalkintoablog.com.