Thursday, June 17, 2010

Titles and Covers and Sales, Oh My

Guest post submissions are in, mes auteurs, and now the time-consuming (yet thoroughly enjoyable) task of selecting five of them to run the week of Monday, June 28th falls to yours truly. Results will be in soon!

In yesterday's comments, the question of how titles and covers play into the sales discussion came up. Let me, for educational purposes, present the following (entirely fictional) one act play featuring sales rep #1, sales rep #2, marketing guy, and art guy.

sales rep #1, sales rep #2, marketing guy, and art guy are all gathered around the conference room table with myriad other publishing professionals.

sales rep #1: I don't know, art guy. This cover just screams romance to me, and Dudes and Bros and Explosions is a thriller.

art guy: True, but one of the main characters is a woman who tries to be "one of the bros" but then falls in love with the protagonist, yeah? We figured it was more of a romantic suspense.

sales rep #2: No, we're aiming for a male audience. We need to take the clinch off the cover and throw in some dudes. Maybe some bros.

sales rep #1: And some explosions.

sales rep #2: Definitely some explosions.

marketing guy: Also, what about the title? I mean, yeah, it's kind of intriguing, but what about the title we launched with?

sales rep #1: You mean The Huzenlaub Effect?

marketing guy: Yeah, that! I'd pick that up in a book store.

sales rep #2: We thought it sounded too academic. Plus, it turns out it's pretty similar to the Huzenlaub process, which is...

sales rep #1 (reading from BlackBerry): "...a form of parboiling designed to retain more of the nutrients in rice."

sales rep #2: Yes. That.

art guy: Okay, we stick with Dudes and Bros and Explosions. But I'm not sold on cutting the clinch. I mean, hot women on book covers sell. And the dude has one arm around her and he's holding a grenade in the other. I don't see what's not to like.

sales rep #1: You made the protagonist look like Fabio. He's described in the book as more of a Kiefer Sutherland type.

sales rep #2: With an eye patch.

sales rep #1: Yeah, an eye patch.

marketing guy: Eye patches don't sell.

sales rep #1: Eye patches totally sell. Boy Wizard with an Eye Patch sold three million copies in hardcover.

marketing guy: Boy Wizard with an Eye Patch was written by J.K. Meyer. She could have written the character with two eye patches, leprosy, and a daytime job on FOX & Friends and it still would have sold.

sales rep #2: All right, what if we foil emboss the title? Shiny things sell.

art guy: Too expensive.

sales rep #1: What if we make it a trade paper original and drop the price point to $16.99?

sales rep #2: That might work.

marketing guy: You know what? I think I like Bros and Explosions and Dudes better.

The curtain closes as everyone at the table tries to speak at the same time.



  1. So that's how that works...note to self, throw a scantily clad women and lots of weapons on my book cover. Thanks!

  2. LOL Maybe I should give my MC an eye patch. *ponders*

  3. [rewriting] My female lead is now foil-embossed.

  4. I would like to order up one extremely shiny foil-embossed eyepatch for when I pitch to agents and editors, please :)

    Okay, really? I'm so glad that these things happen. It makes me feel better about the internal arguments I have with myself over what goes into my books!

  5. Ahhhh... and they say publishing is not like other businesses. I work on web pages, and this is EXACTLY how every meeting on web page design works. Well, except the talk tends to hover around kids with paper airplanes and whether or not people are showing too much teeth in their smiles to appeal to an international audience. Then there's the perennial favorite: Is green really the right color for the big "click here" button?

  6. What about a prosthetic ass? That's going to appeal to some people, surely?

  7. Oh my goodness, thanks for the giggle. And for making a good point. Covers do matter. You want them to notice the book after all, then they'll pick it up and decide whether they want to buy it.

    It's good to see that 'marketing' discussions are the same no matter what the industry.

  8. I don't know what Marketing Guy is talking about. I'd buy anything with an eye patch on it.

  9. That's because Adam is a pirate. :)

    Eric, that's pure genius! :)

  10. Very funny. How are the guest bloggers every going to compete?!?

  11. I agree with Adam. Eye patches are hot. Especially shiny embossed foil eye patches. Thanks for the entertaining (insightful?) post!

  12. I always suspected a lot of deep thought went into the choosing of cover designs. Thanks for confirming this. ::making a note to include eye patches::