Inkwell Guest: B.J. Scott on Cover, Title, Blurb

Author BJ Scott is here today to talk about these three most important marketing tools. Stick around and be sure to post your thoughts in the comments section.

Cover, Title, Blurb

These are the three most important marketing tools an author can utilize next to a well written novel.

Highland QuestTitle

One way to attract the eye of a reader is with a catchy title. Especially in e-books. The reader can’t physically hold the book in their hand so the author must find a way get noticed. A title should peek the conumer’s interest and entices them to buy the book. Short and to the point is important. Depending on if it is a stand alone book or part of a series, the title must give the reader an idea about the content without giving away too much.

Authors usually choose a working title that reflects the tone and theme of the book. It usually sticks, but the final decision is usually left up to the editor as to whether the title will stick or be changed.

Either way a the title is the first thing a reader sees so catch their attention from the start.

Cover vs Content

There is an old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” but in truth, a cover can make or break a book.

The first thing a prospective reader sees, aside from the title and author, is the cover. The cover can often determine if a person will pick up the book and examine it further or pass and not even give it a chance. It Highland Legacyhas been proven that striking covers that catch the attention and imagination of the reader help to sell books…especially in the romance genre. While books, with bland, outdated graphics sit on the shelf. I have no doubt that many a great novel has gone unheralded because of a cover that does not catch the reader’s attention or stimulate their senses in some way. Check out the winners of any cover contest and see which ones score the highest and wins the prize.

But it does not end with a kick-butt cover or serious drool material. It is equally important that the cover and the content of the book compliment each other. If the book is sensual or erotic in nature, the cover should tastefully reflect that, enticing the reader to buy the book and indulge their fantasy. If your book is a historical romance, the cover should be time period appropriate and carry the reader back to the era in which it takes place. If your book is a contemporary, the cover should be sharp, fresh and scream 21st century romance…buy me! A cover that was suitable in the 80s or 90s while it might be very nice, will not wash with the modern expectation of 2012. We are a society that rely on our sense of sight to choose many things in our lives and books are no exception.

Unfortunately, a writer does not always have the final say in their cover. But you owe it to your readers and to yourself–after all the hard work you have put into your novel– to advocate for a cover that best depicts your book. Work with your editor and cover artist and let them know what your characters look like and how you envision the cover before it is designed. Ask to see the ideas and offer some of your own. If it is not what you want, try to negotiate for changes…within reason of course. Who knows better what your story is about than you? Hopefully editors will understand this, agree and support you in your quest for the perfect cover.

Personally, I am drawn to striking covers with clear vibrant pictures and characters that match those in the book. Because it is a romance, between two people, I prefer to see people on the cover as opposed to a building or objects. I often refer back to the cover while reading a book, so if the hero is handsome, well-built, and dark-haired, the heroine a fiery redhead, that is what I expect to see on the cover. Too often I have started reading and find the characters inside the book look nothing like those on the cover. The same goes for the story itself. The content should also match the cover. This might sound nit-picky, but people do notice these things and it does pull you out of the story. If the cover does not immediately catch the reader’s eye, they will not likely buy the book, no matter how wonderful it might be.

Great covers sell, so if you are writing a book or have finished one and are waiting for the cover art, speak with your editor about the cover and together try to come up with something that will wow the readers and make them want to buy your book.

The perfect Pitch/Blurb

If you have written a book, look at the blurb and be brutally honest with yourself. Would this make you sit up and take notice, would it make you buy the book? E-books are even more dependant on a great cover, title and blurb. You have one shot at getting the customer to buy your book.

After the reader looks at the title( which I will talk about in my next blog) and the Cover, an enticing blurb clenches whether they buy the book or not. A blurb must catch the reader’s interest, make them want to read more and NOT give away the story. Often we are tempted to tell far too much.

Ask yourself why a person would buy a book if they already know what is going to happen and why? Leave them guessing and wanting more.

Think of your book blurb as if it were a pitch to an editor or agent. You want to showcase your talent as a writer, dazzle them with your words, and hook them in a few short sentences. Three is common for a pitch. There is no difference between pitching to an editor or a reader. The end result is the same. You want them to contract/buy your book. If you get too wordy, include unnecessary details, colorful metaphors and bog it down with information that might be important in the book, but not the blurb, you will lose the reader in the first few lines.

Writing a pitch/blurb takes practise. Jot down the key events in your story as they occur, details that give the reader some insight as to the internal and external conflicts facing the hero and heroine. Incorporate an introduction to your hero and heroine in the information. Stick to the important details, avoid repetition and be sure to end with a hook. I can’t express enough that giving away the entire plot will lessen your chances of a sale.

Once you have written your pitch/blurb go over it again and eliminate things that are not needed. Then do it again. Your ultimate goal is a short concise description of your book and a hook to catch the reader’s attention. See if you can do it in three lines, four lines at most.

Once it is done, show it to a friend or your hubby or another writer to see if they would read your book based on the blurb. Take suggestions and use them to your advantage. Once you are certain you can make no more changes, it is time to submit it to the editor for their final okay.

If you have difficulty writing a pitch or blurb that meets the above criteria, consider taking an on-line workshop. They are out there and you will be amazed at the insight you gain. Your once lengthy, boring description, will be honed and polished, leaving the reader compelled to buy your book.

Happy writing!

About B.J. Scott:

With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A PAN member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with three dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, camping, or antique hunting.

Highland Legacy is now available in PRINT from Amazon and Barnes & Noble! It is also a finalist in the Oklahoma RWA International Digital Award Contest for published authors in the Long Historical Romance Category!

Find her at and her books:

Website | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Soul Mate Publishing

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.