Saturday, 23 July 2011

Title or Cover?

I had a lovely chat tonight with a good friend who is both a writer and editor.  One of the things we discussed was what makes one pick up a book, what makes one take a second look and eventually walk down to the till to buy it?

Is it the title?  A book must have an eye-catching title, mustn't it? Something that captivates perhaps?

Is it the cover? Does it have to have an enthralling photo?  Does the colour matter?

I must admit that what catches my eye most of the time is the title, cover is only second.  Most of time the cover doesn't really matter to me as long as I like the summary on the back cover.  But the title must get my attention first.


This, for me, is a perfect title and cover.

My judgement is not always right of course.  I do make a mistake of getting a book that I think is good and end up not being able to finish it because the first 3 chapters aren't interesting enough for me.  But then again, I must mention that there were cases when I chose the right books! Take for example Diane Chamberlain's Breaking the Silence (see above).  I loved the title.  I loved the cover.  And it did not disappoint!  It was a story that I both enjoyed and loved. (I've posted a book review on this one, click HERE.) Would you say it was a perfect package?  I'd say it was.  Maybe for my taste.  It all depends on one's taste at the end of the day, doesn't it?



The cover is just so heavenly. Ahhh!

How about a good cover?  The perfect example here is Sister by Rosamund Lupton.  I did not choose it for the title.  I got it because of the fascinating cover! It just looks so immaculate to me.  I mean I could just put that cover in a frame and I've got a beautiful winter scene on my desk.  The story is even better!

It is a lot easier to say 'oh I like that title'  or 'oh, I'll get that, the cover intrigues me' when you are a reader but when you are the one writing the story and it is your own manuscript you are finding a title for, it is a different kettle of fish.  There are words that don't sound catching to me, words that for others would probably sound interesting.

I'm currently working on a novel which I originally called 'When I Close my Eyes.'  It began as a short story which I submitted to a writing competition (which sadly did not win), now it's turned into a novel.  My writer/editor friend suggested the new title, Voice of Silence.  When I first saw her email and I read it out loud, it just sounded so perfect.  It felt right.  But that's just me.  I don't know if it sounds right to other people.

So I will have to ask these questions:

As a reader, do you look for an eye-catching title to make you get the book?  


As a writer, how do you decide on the title of your manuscript?  Do you follow your instinct?  Does it have to feel right?  


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9 comments:

Deborah Walker said...

Hi Len,

I'm a bit different. It's not cover or title for me-- it's the blurb. For instance, when I'm browsing in the book shop, I'll pick out say ten titles and read the blurb. If that seems interesting then I'll read the first page.

I do this even if the cover doesn't seem particulary inviting.

Sorry -- that's one more thing to worry about.

Old Kitty said...

Voice of Silence sounds lovely! I love the play on words. Silence should not have a voice but it does!! Yay!!!

I have to admit the artwork on a book cover catches my eye well before the title. Then the blurb, then the first paragraph then maybe I look at the title! LOL!!

I decide on the title of my stories after the story is written! But that's just me!!

Good luck with your wip!! Take care
x

Len Lambert said...

Hi Deborah - I don't always depend my decision on the cover or title. Very often, I get my friends' recommendation. I also read the blurb. But I must admit, before I pick the book up, the title and cover have to catch my attention first before I even pick it up.

Hi Old Kitty - I'm glad you liked title of my WIP. It might still change, who knows? Haha! I have to give each WIP a title when a thought develops in my brain.

Theresa Milstein said...

When looking at a cover, the title pops out at the same time so it's hard to separate. Then I read the blurb. If I like the title, picture, and blurb + they seem to work together, I read a page or two. If I like the beginning, I buy the book.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

As a reader, it's the cover that attracts my attention first. I read science fiction and fantasy, so outstanding cover art is a must. If the cover doesn't grab me, I won't even pick up the book.
As a writer, I find it incredibly difficult to come up with a good title. When I sent in my second manuscript, my publisher came up with the title, because I had no idea what to call it.

Deniz Bevan said...

I don't know... Sometimes it's the title, but if I like a title, sometimes the cover image might turn me off. It's a combination of things I suppose, which is scary, because if I ever self-publish, how can I tell that I'm getting it right?
It takes a while for titles to come to me, usually only after the first draft of the book is done and I have a better idea of the characters and the end of the story.
Love Voice of Silence!

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I love both the covers you show, but when it comes to choosing if I want to read a book the cover is unimportant, the title is also not a major issue,for me the blurb has to draw me in.
Thanks Len also for commenting, thereby showing your appreciation of my Amy Winehouse Tribute.

Glynis said...

I love both the covers you have uploaded. Both books are brilliant reads.

The cover and title are important to me. Both will encourage me to buy if they are appealing.

My titles pop into my head and then I build a novel around them.

Glynis said...

I love both the covers you have uploaded. Both books are brilliant reads.

The cover and title are important to me. Both will encourage me to buy if they are appealing.

My titles pop into my head and then I build a novel around them.