"" Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_8339780_put-emoticons-blogger.html WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus: August 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018

A book cover is an ad. The art and title need to work together to compel the readers to read the blurb. They need to tell: Who, What, When & Where; or it fails, no matter how big a following or marketing budget the author has. Today's featured cover fail: THE ROOSTER BAR BY @JohnGrisham & @randomhouse #AmWriting #WritingTips #CoverArt

All of the covers in this post are my art & design except for this one.
I normally focus my posts on promoting my latest commision, helping the author to create some buzz in a huge sea of both traditionally and indie published books. 

Today, however, I want to point out how big publishers can and are getting lazy with their primary marketing tool, the cover, and why it's not a trend indie authors want to follow, no matter how well the big-six, bestsellers do. 

Today's primary example of what's wrong with recent cover trends with the big-six is John Grisham's The Rooster Bar, published by Random House. Knowing the authors rarely have input on their covers, the publisher did a huge disservice to such an amazing author, one that makes them tons of money.

In my experienced opinion, the cover is an epic fail, and it's not the first time in recent months I've seen such a lazy, cheap, ineffective cover coming from a major publisher for a bestselling author. And the frightening fallout of this is indie authors in the same genre will attempt to mimic or follow the bad trend because, 'It's working for John Grisham, it will work with my book.' WRONG... Let me emphasize that better ... DO NOT DO SOMETHING THIS AMAZINGLY STUPID TO YOUR BOOK COVER.

Now let me explain why this is such a bad cover for this book. Part of my job is knowing the readers my client is targeting. Knowing John Grisham's work, he tends to write thrillers in a few different styles (some are law or crime thrillers, others are western thrillers, just to name a few). this cover tells me nothing if I didn't already know what Grisham writes. The only part of this cover that tells me it might be a modern-day thriller, is the tiny print under 'Bar'.

As stated in the heading, a book cover is an ad. The art and title need to work together to compel the reader to read the blurb. They need to tell: Who, What, When & Where; or it fails, no matter how big a following or marketing budget the author has. In this example, Random House is counting on John Grisham's existing fanbase to buy the book simply because his name is on it. But what if you don't have his huge fanbase, and worse, still, if you do have an existing fanbase, but an aging one, wouldn't you want to attract new readers, who don't already know you?

To prove my point, I called my seventeen-year-old son into the room. I put my finger over that tiny line under 'Bar' and asked him if he was familiar with the author and his work. He said no (and my teen loves to read -- his personal library fills every bit of space on a 6' tall bookshelf). Next, I asked him if he could tell by the cover what genre the book was or what it's about. He responds, "It's something about a bar in a city." That's it, no clue as to genre or plot. Knowing he likes action, suspense, and thrillers, I asked him if he'd be interested in hearing more about the book or if he'd like to read the blurb... "Nah, looks boring." and he walks away. My point is, this cover just lost one millennial in under ten seconds, how many more is the publisher ignoring because they are not familiar enough with the author to know it's likely a kick-ass thriller that they'd tell their buddies on Snapchat to read it if the visual doesn't say, "Hey, I'm one of the 1-3 genres you like to read," and do it before they scroll down or swipe their smartphone? 

At a glance, can you tell me the genre?
As a book cover artist and designer, I have to know not only what readers, as a whole, are drawn to; but also the different visual nuances from genre to genre. I need to know what will encourage readers to pick my client's book over another book. I need to know who the target audience is and sometimes the age group or demographic. 

Over the years, I've also learned the title and blurb has to do the same thing, only with words, but that cover has less than ten seconds, tops, to make the reader bother to read the blurb. 

This symbiotic relationship between cover art, title, and blurb, all have one goal ... to compel the reader to want more ... to buy and read the book. 

Once in a while, one of my authors struggles with this symbiosis, wanting a cryptic visual or handing me a vague and confusing blurb. This, inevitably, fails to entice the typically, lazy reader. 

At a glance, can you tell the genre?
While it's true a book's blurb should not give away the whole story to the potential buyer, who on average spends maybe one minute considering a book (if that) before moving to the next, that first glance has to convey a lot. If the cover is the bait; the blurb has to be the hook.

Remember elementary school English classes and how teachers tirelessly drilled in the next set of words: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How? Just as that process works for writing anything from an essay to a novel, that same mantra can be applied to your book's cover; just on an abbreviated, visual level.

Keep in mind, you don't need to answer all of the Ws with each element of the cover (imagery, title, blurb). Save all of that for the story. But those three are your book's holy trinity when it comes to marketing your book. As a group, they need to address a modified version of the W's in a matter of seconds ...

'Who's the target audience?' 

At a glance, can you tell the genre?
I know it's trendy to not want to be boxed in by genre stereotypes. But don't fall into that trap, especially if you are an indie author.

'What's the conflict or challenge?'

Is there a battle or suspenseful situation? That would be an ideal visual for the cover over something vague.

'When and Where are we going to be taken?'

Did I forget Why and How? Actually, I didn't forget. They get the why and how only if they buy and read the book. ;P

A book cover's an ad. The art and title need to work together to compel the readers to read the blurb. They need to tell: Who, What, When & Where; or it fails, no matter how big a following or marketing budget the author has.  #AmWriting #WritingTips

Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...

This post edited by Grammarly* ~ NOW FREE FOR CHROME USERS!

*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven but posted as provided by author/publisher.

*All art and designs in this post were created by myself unless otherwise noted even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.