Think back to the last time you were in a bookstore. How did you choose a book to read? Sure you have your favorite sections, but chances are you looked at the front cover, back cover, and (if you are the thorough type) inside the jacket. If you look around the store, you will see everybody else choosing books the same way. The whole process takes two to five seconds.
If you are self publishing, you may be tempted to skimp on some parts of the book publishing process. The way people choose books to read in a bookstore teaches self-publishers something very important. There are two areas in self publishing that does not pay to do cheaply; the cover art and the title.
Devote some time to finding the right cover artist for your book. If you do an internet search for “book cover design” you will get a host of websites and freelancers that offer professional cover design services. Spend some time looking at their galleries and any previous work they’ve published. After you’ve decided who you would like to work with, find their contact information from their website and ask about their availability. Avoid any “self-publishing company” that offers cover design as part of a package. Many of those are based off pre-designed templates. You’re putting your heart and soul into this work. You and your book deserve better.
If you want your book to be commercially viable, then your title has to be commercially viable. Many well-known and highly successful books started out with other titles.
According to Dan Poynter, the father of self-publishing:
- Tomorrow is Another Day became Gone with the Wind.
- Blossom and the Flower became Peyton Place.
- The Rainbow Book became Free Stuff For Kids.
- The Squash Book became the Zucchini Book.
- John Thomas and Lady Jane became Lady Chatterly’s Lover.
- Trimalchio in West Egg became Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
- Something that Happened became Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
- Catch 18 became Catch 22
Being a self-publisher, you probably don’t have the resources to do the market testing that large publishers do for their titles. So, until you are in a position that you can afford market testing, here are some tips:The shorter, the better; Very few titles are complex. Did you notice how the titles above use four words or less?
The title should please the ear. Did you notice how four of the titles listed above use alliteration?The tiles above also help you create a mental image or a mood.
You may have a brilliantly written book, but that means nothing if no one reads it. Give your book every possible chance to be bought by using a great cover artist and title.