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Friday, February 17, 2017

A few tips about book titles and book covers

My beloved dog Hunter J. Marcus died three weeks ago. He was 15. That's old for a dog, but not old enough.

I have often written about him in blog posts and on Facebook. Several people urged me to write a book about him. I certainty don't want to disappoint his fans or my fans—so I started yesterday. I'd been out of the authoring mood for a few years and it feels good to be writing again.

The illustration shows the tentative title, Love For & From My 4-Legged Son, and a preliminary cover design. I'm sure there will be changes before publication later this year. Even though what you see resulted from just a few hours' work and is far from final, it does exemplify several important concepts:

  1. Keep your title as short as possible. If you use fewer words, the letters can be bigger. Bigger letters are easier to read—especially when reduced to "thumbnail"-size illustrations online.
  2. An ampersand (&) should not be used within your text, but is fine in titles where you need to save space. Some ampersands look better than others and you can use an ampersand from a different typeface than the surrounding text, if compatible. My ampersand and title are in Cambria bold.
  3. The title is a rhyme. That's fun and may make the title more memorable.
  4. Limit the number of colors on your cover and try to tie the title color to your dominant graphic image. My title color is close to the color of the dog's fur.
  5. Normally short words such as "for" should be in lowercase type. In my title both "for" and "from" are important—not mere prepositions—and deserve uppercasing.
  6. Avoid all-white covers. They disappear onto the white pages of websites. My cover actually has grayish tone on it, and is surrounded by dark edge to define the shape online.
  7. Learn to kern. The "y" is tucked into the "M" of "My."
    More about kerning here
  8. Say something about yourself, especially if it's relevant to the book's subject and can add credibility. Did you win an election, a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal? Are you a teacher, a cook, a crook or a cop. Did you discover an element or an island. Do you have 14 kids?
  9. Use the available space. A subtitle or list can amplify the title and possibly help you to sell more books. Extra text also helps attract search engines. I plan to use a subtitle. It's important for me to include "dog."
  10.  My list at the bottom originally said:
    ·                      Memories
    ·                      Photos
    ·                      Advice
    ·                      Emails from Doggie Heaven
  11.  I replaced "Memories" with "Stories," which is about the same width as the two successive lines.

More about covers in my book, The Look of a Book: what makes a book cover good or bad and how to design a good one


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