Designing covers, title and blurbs

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The cover.

The title.

The blurb.

You have to consider all three of these things before you're able to start publishing your story in serialised form. It doesn't matter how good your chapters are if the book doesn't have a good cover, title and blurb.

This can be oddly stressful. Never judge a book by its cover, but that's what everyone does. This is never more true than on Wattpad, where the cover is the primary means of being noticed. Followed by the title, then the blurb. And if you're lucky, someone will get past those three things and read your actual story.

I'd suggest not worrying about a title until you've at least got your arcs plotted out. Ideally, figure out those themes first, too, as they might feed in and give you inspiration. The challenge with a title is that you're pretty much stuck with it after you publish that first chapter, as chopping and changing the title is going to confuse your readers. That said, if you have a really good reason to rename the book down the line and you're finding that it hasn't really got any reader traction yet it might be worth considering - it could be the reason people aren't reading. However, if you've already built a decent following you should be very cautious about renaming just because you don't like the title anymore.

To entirely contradict my own advice, I recently renamed my on-going serial to The Mechanical Crown, from its original title Evinden. I'm six chapters into the book already so was rather loathe to change it but was increasingly aware that the made-up fantasy word 'Evinden' just wasn't working as a title. It means nothing. Changing to The Mechanical Crown is intended to conjure more intrigue, interest and incentive to read. It's a title which is suggestive of the story and setting. The change was required and was needed sooner rather than later - I've yet to see how it impacts on the read numbers.

Covers are slightly different and can evolve without causing major disruption. Traditional print books go through multiple cover designs in their lifetimes, so readers are accustomed to that visual cue altering. A Day of Faces has gone through many covers, each change being due to me coming up with what I thought was a better idea.

If your book sits neatly into an established genre or trend, check out other books in that area to see what their covers look like. You don't have to directly copy, of course, but picking up on visual motifs will help readers who like similar fiction find your book.

I created the covers for A Day of Faces myself, as you can probably tell. If you're not confident in your design capabilities it's worth sourcing a freelancer to create a cover for you. There are artists on Wattpad, not to mention a huge community on sites like DeviantArt.

The blurb is the really tricky part. I'm still not particularly happy about A Day of Faces' description, despite having endlessly tweaked it for over a year. On Wattpad, the description is the equivalent of the back of a book - if your cover and title have got people's attention, the description is the next thing they'll be checking out.

Ideally the description will introduce the setting, a lead character (people like people; same reason it's often effective to have faces on covers) and some kind of crisis or challenge. You also need to give a sense of what sets it apart from other books. All within a very small character count.

I've found that A Day of Faces' description has improved over time, primarily because I've become more attuned to what the book really is - the first version of the description was written before I'd published even a single chapter, making it was hard to define the book even in my own head. That's why having a close understanding of your themes and overall story arcs is very useful.

Do you find it easy to write blurbs and come up with titles? If so, help the rest of us!

Next up: Proofing & publishing

If this guide helps your writing, you can buy me a coffee here: http://ko-fi.com/simonkjones  

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