What is the saying again? A picture is worth a thousand words? What if your novel is 80,000 words? Is the picture (cover) you've chosen worth 80,000 words? If it isn't, readers will not be drawn to your book, buy it, read it and possibly review it!
Andrea and I recently helped a client choose an illustrator for her cover, and we faced the same issues we face each time we search for the perfect cover for a client's book. So, I thought we would try and answer the question:
What makes a successful cover for YOUR self published book?
It would be great if the answer to this question was as simple as taking a picture of your favorite waterfall, typing the title of your book in any open space, and adding your name as the author towards the bottom in somewhat smaller font...but it's not. Although picture, title and author are key components, their position, size and meaning are vital. You may even need slightly different covers for electronic and physical versions of your book to account for thumbnails vs. competition for attention in bookstores.
Let's consider the key parts.
~ Title/Author. If you have had more than one edit - content and copy - your initial title may well have changed during this process. Therefore, the key elements you want your title and cover to convey may have also changed. You must also consider what style font you wish to use for both title and author, and whether the text will share or compete for attention with an image. I wouldn't suggest assigning your ISBN, designing your cover or blogging/networking about your new book until you have completed edits and are relatively sure of the exact title.
~ The Picture/Background. Your favorite waterfall may have very little, if anything to do with the content of your book. Therefore, if you want a picture on your cover, the first thing you must consider is graphic arts or illustration. Each has a unique look and feel as illustrated below.
The Harry Potter book is a drawing/illustration. The Of Poseidon book is created using Graphic Arts. Either way, you need to convey to the artist creating your cover the feeling you want a reader to have when they initially see your book. A good cover artist will be sure there is enough non-essential space available for your title and author name to stand out, and that all elements come together to create an outstanding representation of the work your cover protects and advertises.
I can't wait to share our latest client's book cover with you, as the illustrator is amazing, but first, all the above details must be worked out.
What were the key components you wanted your book cover to show a potential reader? How did you ensure it would entice a possible reader to click or pick up your book? Please share!
~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
MommyLoves to Chat!
Say Bump and Take a Left
Pride & Prejudice
Anything by Shakespeare...
If written today, would these classic titles have survived the test of time or even been noticed? We live in a world of short attention spans, ADD, multimedia, ads posted on buses, cars, billboards, and even some restaurant bathrooms. (Albeit not very nice restaurants.) We write in small shorthanded snippets, lucky if an entire sentence gets created and read by scanning headlines and bullet points.
So, could any of the books we’ve grown up knowing as classics have ever made themselves known or even read in this new society? Thanks to self-publishing, tens of thousands of books are being published when we might have seen only hundreds in years past. But, this ever increasing competition for our attention, along with our inability to focus for more than mere minutes or even seconds, has made it signficiantly more difficult to imagine having the patience to commit to a heavy novel unless it was riddled with action or suspense.
Recently, I’ve read articles telling authors to split stories down into shorter books and market them as a series. Written even just a decade ago, that would mean the Harry Potter series would have been 15 books instead of 7, which seems a little insane. Regardless of the insanity, it's not a coincidence that today, the most successful self published authors are the ones producing the 'fluffy reading candy,' turning the once regarded act of reading into the equivalent of watching tv, or even playing a video game.
I’d like to believe that a good story is timeless. I just have to wonder how the above ‘classics’ might have been written and/or marketed differently for them to compete today. It makes me shudder to think they may not have been written or published at all.
Will the ‘Classics’ even be remembered 100 years from now? Will they continue to be read? Do you think the pendulum will swing back to a time when we’re tired of the over-stimulation?
You've worked hard earning every penny of your ebook and print book profits - so imagine losing it all in a legal battle over the originality of your story or characters. Today, just the act of defending yourself in court, regardless if you're found guilty or innocent, could create financial ruin.
Does this really happen and do authors really need to protect themselves?
This great question was posed to me recently and it's one I hadn’t really thought about, before now. Since Mary’s book was centered around herself and her family, she was in a lot less danger of being sued over copyright infringements or misrepresentations. But, for authors not writing memoirs or autobiographies, they may want to consider protecting themselves, especially since we live in such a litigious world. Just ask J.K. Rowling, who had to defend her idea of the Triwizard Tournament she wrote about in the 4th book of the Harry Potter series. Fortunately, she was on her way to becoming the first billionaire author, so she had a cushion to fall back on. But, the average author is not as lucky.
As I researched this subject, I learned that surprisingly all authors, even those publishing traditionally, need to consider carrying liability insurance as the traditional publishing houses are no longer fully protecting authors under their policies.
For more information on the reasons and resources for obtaining coverage, check out this interesting article by Amy Cook on the Writers Digest website.
Do you think it’s necessary to have Liability Insurance? Have you purchased a policy and/or faced a legal battle over your book?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Several years ago, a multilingual friend of mine expressed his frustration with the English language, calling it too limiting due to the lack of word choices that best described what he was trying to say.
Unfortunately, I’m not multilingual, so I wasn’t able to relate to him. Perhaps part of the problem is that our culture has changed from one of learning and using language as an art form and increasing our vocabulary so that our writing has more complexity, richness, and poetic tones. Today, we’re faced with sound bites, taglines, poor grammar (if any grammar) and snippets of partial words, all thanks to texting and social media.
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with these new communication tools, but I believe books like the Harry Potter series have something really important to teach us. J.K. Rowling has become the first billionaire author, and although adults love her works, they were originally written for prepubescents. Even though it belongs to the fantasy genre with lots of action and adventure, The Harry Potter Series still maintains a form of writing found in timeless classics such as Winnie the Pooh, or Alice in Wonderland. Many books written with a casual tone can become popular, but will they really stand the test of time, or just flicker out like most trends? Especially, when the lifecycle of a trend is becoming increasingly shorter, I wonder if these casual-toned books are destined to become outdated before we’ve even finished reading them? The overwhelming popularity of Harry Potter tells me that both adults and children alike are starving for not only a good story, but one told in a way that allows them to expand their minds with a meatier palate, not just consume mental junk food.
My friend made his statement about the English language before the Harry Potter series was published. I'll have to ask him if he still feels the same.
Do you find your speech and writing changing with the current trend toward a casual use of the English Language?
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