Friday, November 22, 2013

What word on a book cover can hurt the book's sales?

If you saw a sign like this one in a store window, and you hoped to get a job in the store, but the sign did not include the archaic "inquire within" phrase, would you do anything other than inquire within?

Of course not.

If you saw a book cover with one person's name on it, but the text did not include "by," "By:" or "Written by," wouldn't you assume that the name is the name of the author?

A phrase like "Written by Stevie Jones" may be forgivable on a report about dinosaurs written by a child in third grade, but DOES NOT belong on a book. It instantly brands the book as pathetically amateurish. The book may be dismissed by potential reviewers and purchasers -- even before the cover is flipped open.

So, say goodbye to "by."

If you are evaluating book cover designers and the designer's portfolio includes book covers with "by" on them, that's an indicator that the designer does not know enough about designing books.

If you are considering a self-publishing company, take a look at the covers of books it has produced. If you see the word "by" before an author's name, you'll know that the company employs ignorant folks who have no business being in the book business. Stay away!

The cover of the overpriced book shown at the right comes from AuthorHouse. The cover gets extra stupid points for having "by" with a colon.

Even if an author designs her own cover, or employs an independent designer, and submits a cover design with the horrid monosyllable, a knowledgeable publisher should say "NO WAY."

AuthorHouse tells potential author-customers: "
you maintain creative control of your book. From editing and proofreading to cover design . . . you choose what you want for your book."

Creative control is nice -- but it can be self-destructive. Many authors need the guidance that an experienced publisher should be able to provide.

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