Friday, March 8, 2013

Covers are still the First Push

How are you going to attract readers - like the flower has to attract the bee to the pollen.

RePost from The Passive Voice 14 December 2012 

Cover Copy Primer 

From author and regular visitor J.M. Ney-Grimm:

I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader. I’m going to don my reader cap for a moment.
How do I choose my reading material?
When I’m lucky, a friend recommends something that’s right, but my voracity has exhausted most of my friends’ reading lists. (Grin!) More often, I must browse the shelf of new books at the library, check what my favorite authors are reading (because I’ve read all their stories), or fish among Amazon’s recommendations (which are still very hit-or-miss for me).
All these methods, however, eventually confront me face-to-face with a book cover (I’ve blogged about cover design here) and cover copy. Sometimes cover copy might more properly be called web copy, but it’s the same stuff. That cover copy – even on the tail of a friend’s recommendation – must get me to either buy the book outright or flip to the first page of the story. (Which must then make the sale, but story openings are another blog post!)
How does the cover copy do its job? It has an underlying structure. Let’s examine it.
. . . .
Several months ago I blogged about the two most essential elements of cover copy: theme (not plot) and active verbs. If you missed that post, you’ll find it here. But what about the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts of writing such copy? Theme and active verbs are necessary, but not sufficient for the job. What about the rest?
. . . .
What is the theme of the story, and what are the repercussions of this central idea?
This is the big reason a reader wants to read! Is the story about star-crossed lovers, mistaken identity, catching a dream, or what? Spell it out, but don’t descend into your plot. Stay with the big ideas; avoid the finicky details.
. . . .
What is the initial conflict?
Again, do not list plot details. What is the heart or essence of this conflict? Focusing on theme helps you avoid spoilers. You want to give a sense of the story without revealing elements best encountered within it.
. . . .
What is the hook?
A hook is something that provokes tension in the reader, often a question. Such as: how can he convince her, when she won’t even talk to him? Will her gift for improv poetry be enough to catch the god’s eye? Can he run fast enough, leap high enough, drink deep enough to surmount the walls of Olympus?
Link to the rest at J.M. Ney-Grimm
Here's some more links from us and our friends around the websphere:

Never Judge a Book by It's Cover - Just Click on It

Surrender - Deborah Cooke: working through the dilemma of new covers for her backlist novels, and only recently figured out how to use her sidebars as point of purchase links. She also shares her knitting projects!

And some size details from ebookbuilders - E-Book Covers - Does Yours Meet the New "Industry" Standards?

Why Indie Authors Must Have A Top-Notch-Cover and 5 Steps To Getting There - From Wise Ink


  1. There are some good points here and some I disagree with. So, I thought I would share my resources.

    On cover design, I subscribe to Joel Friedlander's blog. He is a professional, award-winning cover designer and freely shares his knowledge in articles and even downloadable free PDFs. You can see a listing of his articles here:

    The two articles I would highly recommend reading if you have little time are: 15 ebook covers: Success and Failure in the Kindle Store AND Book Cover Design Symposium in Your In Box. Even if someone else is doing your covers for you, I believe that reading these two articles will help to inform your own sense of what you want and why.

    Authors are notorious (myself included) for wanting details from their stories, on their cover, that they believe are central to the plot, but that have nothing to do with selling the book. Those two articles will explain why you may want to rethink that obsession. :)

    He also does monthly e-book cover design awards analysis. I've learned a lot reading why one book does well and another does not. The awards are in both non-fiction and fiction and it is eye-opening.

    On book blurbs, J.M. makes a critical mistake IMO. That is she combines marketing copy (i.e., the book takes ) that is generally ignored by the reader. If there is to be these types of statements it should be presented as "pull quotes" from reviewers or other authors.

    A great site about writing book blurbs comes from Romance University and Amy Wilkins of Harlequin. I also follow The Creative Penn because she's been a very successful Indie author and has freely offered advice on her blog for a long time. Here's her blurb writing advice:

    1. Thanks Maggie!
      Here's the direct link to those two articles: