Monday, September 21, 2009

The Surface Elements of Books

Book titles and cover design are interesting elements of books. We all know that it’s what’s inside the covers that makes a great book, but we surely can’t deny that covers and titles make a huge difference as well.


Titles are incredibly important and can set the expectation as to the story. An overly ironic or jokey title can offset the importance of the story, while a long, drawn-out title can set unnecessary expectations.

Jessica at BookEnds has a great post on titles, and the comments are worth reading too.

Kristin Nelson did a great title post a while ago too, which was helpful to me in cutting down my long and overblown title into something short and succinct. Unfortunatley I can't find that post, but I did find a few thoughts from her on her client Janice Hardy's title.

And then there’s giving classics titles of today here and here. My fav: Then: Little Women; Now: Concord 01742


I’ve said before, and will say again, how swayed by covers I am, and in particular, The Portable Dorthy Parker. Oh, how I love this cover. I love it so much that I am unable to read the text, so swept off my feet am I every time I attempt having a go at it. One of my favorite blogs is The NYT Book Design Review.

Much has been said on covers that I don't need to rehash here including two very good Pimp My Novel posts here and here.

What are your thoughts on titles and covers? I prefer short and sweet titles, but that's also my genre speaking. What are some of your favorite titles and covers? I admit to being swayed to read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" purely based on the title, although the cover didn't do too much for me. Likewise the book "F*ck" sounded promising but was just odd and ultimately unreadable for me. I think that for women's fiction, if the titles are contrived then it can be a turn off. All of Irish author Cathy Kelly's titles are a bit contrived for me, yet I like most of her books (except "Lessons in Heartbreak" which didn't pull me in and I couldn't read it.) Other titles from her include "Best of Friends," "Always and Forever," and "Past Secrets," all of which spell B-A-R-F, although they were enjoyable stories. Now, I obviously read her books anyway, but it took another recommendation from someone to read her because if I had known nothing about her, I might not have been drawn in enough to pick up the book. As for covers, I'm pretty much done picking up anything with martini glasses or high heels on the cover, but I am not above pastel.


Jm Diaz said...

I was actually having this conversation with my wife yesterday. Its truly is of utter importance to have a good cover and title. That is what's gonna make your reader pick up the book, and at least read the inside jacket and say "Meh," or "hmm, interesting".
Its sad (from a writer point of view) but we are very visual creatures. And yes, Dorothy Parker's cover is outstanding...

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks for stopping by and following, Jm. Nothing like a little Atlanta!

We do know that covers make more of a difference than titles, but now I'm wondering if titles really have that much negative impact? Because if the title sucks, other elements can overcome.

coffeelvnmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
coffeelvnmom said...

After reading this I looked over at my bookshelf right here next to me. Out of approximately 20 books I purchased in the past few months, only 2 of them were because of covers I found interesting. Which ones, you ask? The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (I just HAD to know what that necklace meant in the story) and Real Life & Liars by Kristina Riggle (which to be honest, I just liked because of the photo. I still haven't read it yet).

If you look at books like the Twilight series, for instance, all four books have quite random covers - a single picture on a black cover. (I read what they each symbolized at one point, but to be honest, I can't remember what they were.) Is that what drew me in and made me read them? Nope. To be honest, I watched the movie, and cannot stand not knowing the ending of things, so that's why I read them. The covers could have all been blue with paperclips on the front of them and I still would have read them. (Though I'm not sure if the mainstream "Twilight Audience" did go for the covers though or not.)

Three books I would like to read (regardless of reviews) simply because of their covers are "A Bad Day for Sorry", "This is Where I Leave You", and "Chasing Harry Winston." Definitely an eclectic bunch.

Funny how I've given my WiP cover quite a deal of thought, wondering what it could look like as I read the blogs you mentioned in this post. Because really, that's not exactly why I choose my books at all.

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.