ASK PZM: Sept 2012 book covers

It’s the first Wednesday of the month,

Welcome to my 2nd IWSG post. I hope you enjoy Phyllis’s post on Book Covers.

Ask PZM Sept 2012 book covers

Q: How important do you think book covers are for marketing a book?  What are the important elements of a cover?

While I am no expert on this subject, I do have strong opinions about these questions.  (And I did take advertising design courses at then-Philadelphia College of Arts in the ‘70s.)
With the huge number of physical book and ebooks bought online these days, a book cover is probably worth a thousand words.  In other words, a book cover is very important.
In fact, it is probably more important than in the past because online it is so easy to click away if the cover of a book does not attract us.
And the additional issue is how small the size of a book cover is online.  For example, the cover size on a book’s page on Amazon is decent.  But when you do a search on Amazon and get several book selections, the cover size then is pretty small.
Bottom line?  You should give serious consideration to how your book cover is going to “read” online.

Now let’s talk about important elements of the actual cover:

First, does the type font make it easy to read the title?
Full disclosure:  I do not think the type font on the book cover of my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT is very easy to read.  When the cover was designed 4 ½ years ago by BookSurge (before the company was merged into CreateSpace) I did not really think of how the cover would look online.  In retrospect, I should have.
On the other hand, I had a lot of input about the cover art.  I wanted four very different young women – and that was my introduction to when I got to choose the faces.
Second, does the cover set the tone of the book?  Can prospective readers tell immediately whether the book is nonfiction or fiction?  Or is the art interesting but too overwhelming for the small size of the cover online?
The same way we have to ruthlessly edit our manuscripts is the way we have to “edit” our book covers if we are self-publishing.
And if we are not self-publishing, can we convince a traditional publisher to allow us say in the cover?
Yes, I know that major publishers may often rely on the marketing department to determine what kind of cover “sells” for a particular genre.  But clarity is still required for any kind of cover.
If you are working with a book cover designer, you may be in good hands.  Just remember, though, that designers think in terms of design.  A book author needs to think in terms of marketing.

Q:  What about the importance of titles?

Again, this is not my area of expertise although I can offer some advice.
It is a good idea these days to think both in terms of clarity and keywords (words found in searches online).
For example, I originally called my newest novel FALL GUY.  But my business partner Yael K. Miller suggested CIA FALL GUY, which is a much better title for an espionage story revolving around the CIA.
I purposely added a subtitle for MRS. LIEUTENANT – A SHARON GOLD NOVEL.  This was to make clear that the novel was not the same as the booklet we new officers’ wives bought at the PX to help us learn how to become good officers’ wives.
In retrospect, LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS, the title of the technothriller I wrote with my husband Mitch, might be mistaken for a nonfiction book.  But the cover art is of a submarine and not a person, so that probably helps clarify the title.
Why are effective titles often so hard to choose? 
Part of the problem is that the meaning of the title of a book we write is very obvious to us.  But it may not be so obvious to others.  And this goes for nonfiction as well as fiction.
In conclusion, the book cover “look” and the title work together to signal prospective readers what a book is about – or to confuse prospective readers.  It is up to us the authors that the signal is as clear as possible.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks.  A new nonfiction ebook of hers is TOPTIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK
and her newest fiction ebook is the thriller CIA FALL GUY. 
Click here to visit her Amazon author page at
She also has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company

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