I don’t know about you, but as a reader, I spend very little time thinking about book titles. They either interest me or they don’t, and I have no idea why usually. To be honest, a title has to work at it to turn me away from a book.
If the title hasn’t managed to destroy my desire to read, it’s more about the blurb and the cover that make me want to pick up the book.
Which isn’t to say that the title is unimportant. A great many titles inspire near interest or repulsion. They just sit there with a bored look on their face and say “Maybe you’ll like this book. Or maybe not. Who knows?” That may not inspire me enough to turn the book over to read the blurb on the back, or on the jacket flap. Which means it hasn’t done its job.
All of which leads me round to why my book of short fiction is called “Shorts”.
Total transparency time. I was trying to be clever. A book of short fiction called “Shorts”! It was snappy, it felt clever (never trust that feeling my friends), and it was probably unique. Boom!
There are at least two other books with that title. One of them was written by some big name English author from 75 years ago. I can not remember the author, and I can no longer track down the book. But it exists. As does a book from the 1990s with the same title. So not quite unique. And not really all that clever.
It is snappy.
And to be honest, I still kind of like the title. So I have no intention of changing it. I have pretty much given up on publishing a small collection of poetry under the name “Pomes” (no, that’s not a typo). I’m thinking that’s a good idea.
Having written your donation to the literature of our time, and having selected a name (perhaps choosing to avoid the pitfall of cleverness), you have to come up with a cover.
Covers can make or break a book. I didn’t always believe that. Once I started looking at the dreadful covers that indie authors like myself were foisting on the public, I changed my mind. Some of these folks may be great writers. But they have no eye for design whatsoever.
I did choose to design my own cover. I studied covers that I liked and tried to come up something that was clean and distinctive. Maybe it proves that I have no eye for design either, but I was mostly happy with the design above. Later this year a new edition (and audiobook!) are coming out and their covers will be slightly re-designed. I think I’ve learned something in the last two years.
Now some indie authors, and a fair number of graphic artists are shaking their heads in dismay at my foolishness. They will tell you that only a fool does not have covers done by professionals. They would have you believe that professionals will confer some magic dust on your project and save it from eternal ignominy. Certainly, there are plenty of books that scream for professionally designed cover art. But there’s an issue here – cost. Covers can be a “you get what you pay for” proposition. And if you’re not in a position to pay for a quality cover, what do you do? Well, you can put a really crap cover on your book, you can decide not to publish, or you can try to do your own. There are places that can help you create covers at little to no cost. But that brings us back around to have some feel for what looks good.
I didn’t have a lot of money. Still don’t. I think I have a halfway decent eye. So for the moment, I will design my own covers.
In the end, I hope I’m a better writer than graphic artist. Which is probably just as well.