Tag Archives: self publishing

Judging a book by its cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Yeah, people don’t follow that, especially on the internet. The course on udemy.com by Tom Corson-Knowles makes some very good points. When people scroll through the loads of books available, it’s the cover that grabs a potential buyer’s attention. Shopping online differs greatly from the browsing experience of a brick and mortar book store. There’s no helpful staff to suggest a book. Sure, Amazon’s algorithms do their best, but they aren’t comprehensive or always right.

If you publish traditionally, while most of this you won’t have to worry about, keep the design aspects in mind when giving the go ahead on the cover art drawn up by the in-house artist.

Here are some interesting and helpful tidbits:

  • Hire someone to make a professional looking cover.

Unless you are skilled at graphic art, do not use that picture you took of your dog or your kid’s stick art and paste your title above it. The course instructor suggested fiverr.com. I had no idea this site existed and it looks like a great resource. You can preview an artists’ work, read reviews, and it’s far cheaper than the several hundred dollars one might pay otherwise to graphic artist.

  • It’s all about the title.

Pretend you are selling your book to a world full of Great-Aunt Berthas whose eyesight is rather iffy. The first look at your book most people will see is a tiny little thumbnail. If your cover looks like an impressionist painting when reduced to a thumbnail, redesign the cover.

  • Aim for a neat, professional, uncluttered cover.

This goes back to hiring someone who knows what they are doing, but even the best sometimes come up with duds. What looks okay in print doesn’t always show up well on a screen. Keep in mind also that some readers (like me) have a basic e-reader device without color. The breathtaking work of art should be between the pages; not on the cover.







I openly admit that I hate titling my writing. I can write a hundred thousand words, but titles are downright evil. They might say not to judge a book by its cover, but there’s no similar absolution for titles. A bad title can kill a novel, or so they say.

Yesterday I watched the “Picking a Best Selling Novel Title” portion of my online course.  Here are some tidbits of wisdom I learned:

  • Carry a notebook EVERYWHERE so if you happen upon a good title you can write it down.

Clearly the title faeries have noted my lack of notebook and deigned not to visit.

  •  Brainstorm ideas for a while and ask your friends for ideas if you can’t think of anything.

I should  be more  obsessive and obviously I should harass my friends more.

  • Look at the top best-selling books on Amazon. There’s a science to titles. Don’t use the same titles, but try to see what makes a good one.

Uhm, aren’t you supposed to be telling me how to do that? It appears that if there’s a science, you don’t know it, so that makes two of us.

  • Check out Lulu Title Scorer. Note that most of the best-selling books rank high on this app.

Okay, I’ll play:

I went to Amazon and searched the “best books of the month”. I skipped Steven King and Niel Gaiman as their sales likely derive from name power as from their titles. I hadn’t heard of the third, so I put it in.

Only 10.2%? I wonder if the app designer has a day job as a meteorologist.

Only 10.2%? I wonder if the app designer has a day job as a meteorologist.

Then I put in the working titles of two of my novels:

Nice. So slightly better odds than flipping a coin!

69.0% Nice. So slightly better odds than flipping a coin!

Eh, I don't really like that title anyway.

26.3% Eh, I don’t really like that title anyway.

I guess the take home message is that the minds of the masses are beyond mere apps, or me, and quite possibly the dude teaching the course.