My new novel, My Life as a Bench, is out today. I’ve opted for a virtual book launch rather than the proper let’s-drink-at-our-local-bookshop variety.
Stickers (or more likely pretend stickers) are all the rage on book covers. Those little bright circles used to contain important additional information, such as a shortlisting for a literary prize, but now it can be almost anything including frequent claims that the latest release is the new Gone Girl or for fans of The Girl on the Train or Stieg Larsson.
Anyway, I can hardly complain since I have joined in with my own circular cry for attention, but why stop at one? Perhaps I could coat my entire book cover in circles filled with the best and most exciting quotes?
A well designed book cover will certainly improve a book’s chances in today’s crowded market, so what are the secrets of successful book cover design?
At the recent London Book Fair I attended a talk by Damian Horner, brand development director at Hachette, and this is a brief summary of his advice for authors:
1 Membership – look at the genre rules for book covers and ask, am I a member of that group?
2 Lust Factor – you have to look at it and love it. Does it stand out? If it’s fresh, you’ll look again.
3 Blink Test – is there one stand out thing that people will take away if they look quickly?
4 Title – Important for search engine optimisation and for design. Is your title strong and memorable?
6 Retailer – think about how the thumbnail sized version works, important for Amazon etc, and also think of how your book will sit spine out in a bookshop such as Waterstones.
7 Hierarchy – Title or author? It’s best to choose one or the other.
GOLDEN RULE – BE CLEAR BEFORE YOU’RE CLEVER
With all this in mind I got to work on my cover for LONDON TSUNAMI & OTHER STORIES which is a collection of 21 contemporary stories set in London.
After initially going in the wrong direction with several ideas (including a linocut that took me at least a week), I settled on a photograph of some flats that I have been fascinated by for years. By day the building looks drab while by night it’s transformed by its central pillar of glowing windows. There are so many different and equally vibrant lives being lived in that one building and my collection is a bit like that – 21 stories of different people, of different ages, leading different lives in west London.