Last week, I submitted an idea to my publisher for a new picture book . This one, unlike others before it, caught the elusive spark of interest. Within minutes of their initial, “I think you’re on to something,” we began talking about book title, cover image/ color and sales placement opportunities to further assess the idea’s merit.
Yes, the story part of my book is just one aspect of creating a successful (read: marketable) book. The publishing team cares very much about these things too:
1. The Book Title.
This article about explains very well how the process of naming one’s book is intentional and often involves the input of many — from editors and sales reps to marketing managers and even book buyers. Sometimes the title will spontaneously and naturally flow from the manuscript itself but other times, it’s a process of asking oneself: What idea do I want to get across? Am I making a particular promise to my readers? What other titles are other there that might sound like mine?
2. The Cover Image and/or Color.
Our brains process images faster than words and a good cover needs to immediately convey the promise of one’s book. The cover needs to emotionally connect with a reader and say, “this book is for you.” In a recent article for Huffington Post, Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, says this:
The elements that give a book the greatest visibility on online retail shelves include simplicity, a clear promise, a professional design with layers and smart use of color, readable text, and appropriate targeting: If you strip away the words, the image needs to make a promise to the reader.
I wrote a picture book many years ago called, “I Love You So…” Originally, the cover was blue with a picture of a mom and gender-neutral kid hugging. Sales were initially strong, then subsided. About two years ago, the publisher “re-packaged” the book, changing the cover to bright red, the color of love. Bam – sales took off once again.
Where will I find your book in the store? One author friend who created a gift book about grief/loss forever challenged the bookstores who didn’t know if they should put his book in children’s pictures books, the grief and loss section, or adult self help. Any ambiguity leads to potential loss in sales. Clarity is king. Also, what type of promotional tie-ins can your book offer the bookseller? Does the title and topic lend itself to any holiday tie-ins? In the photo above, my red-covered book earned a spot on a Children’s Cash Wrap promo table for Valentine’s Day.
Use your practice today to contemplate the marketing side of your writing. Do you have THE title for your next work? Several you are considering? Do you have any experience to share on how a title, cover image, marketing effort worked or didn’t for you? And if these prompts don’t connect with where you are in your writing today — simply write and share!