We felt that the raincoat needed to pop a little more and the man in boots looked as if he had unnaturally skinny legs. Hence the second draft:
I am all too aware that it is the cover and title that sell the book to new readers. A dreary, boring or wrong cover can doom the best novel. I’ve had friends suffer from a major spoiler on the cover (such as the murderer holding a gun???) A friend’s legal thriller came out with a spaniel on the cover once, because the art director liked spaniels. Doomed as far as male readers were concerned.
I also find that I have to fight from time to time to stop the cover copy from giving away clever plot points. I’d rather it didn’t say “she goes to work for an unpleasant and arrogant millionaire. When he is found murdered…..” I don’t want my reader to know in advance who is going to die. I want the reader to observe the main characters interacting and to think “something bad is going to happen here” but then be shocked and surprised when it does. So I’m often hesitant to read cover flaps.
And as for titles: it’s often the title that comes to me first. I find I can’t write with confidence and enthusiasm unless I have a title, even if I know it’s only a working one. Sometimes I have discussions with my publisher about the title. We throw suggestions around and always come up with something that satisfies all of us. But I am always conscious how important the title is. I have to confess that I have been lured by an intriguing title into buying a book. The Thirteenth Tale. Loved it. Anything with the word Garden intrigues me. And water. The Shape of Water.
At the moment the fad seems to be to use the word GIRL in the title. Or the word GONE. Or COLD. Or TRAIN. So my next Georgie book will be called COLD GIRL GONE ON THE TRAIN. Or... GIRL GONE ON THE COLD TRAIN , or TRAIN GONE, GIRL COLD. Future bestseller, do you think?
Above all, the cover should tell you what kind of book you are getting. I once put together a selection of covers that really missed the mark. Here are some of them!
So do share your experiences: writers, have you ever been stuck with a title you didn’t like? Have your editors come up with a title you thought was brilliant? And readers, how often do you pick up a book because the title intrigued you?
And what about covers? Ever bought a book because you couldn’t resist the cover?
AND do you want to know what’s going to happen, who is going to die when you read the cover flap?