Stressing the Wrong Benefit
There is a subtle danger in titles and covers that is rarely explicitly mentioned. Titles and book covers are important because it’s what draws the reader to the book, helps them to pick up the book or look at it online then make a buying decision. Often a book title will stress a benefit as a way of attracting readers. But imagine the disappointment for the reader if you stress the wrong benefit? It’s rare that I notice a book which has the wrong title and the wrong book cover but I found one. Now before I say more, I want to stress the value of this book and I plan to write a couple of entries to show some of the excellent contents.
Several weeks ago at a Christian online forum, people were listing excellent how-to-write books they had recently read. One title caught my attention—The Making of a Christian Bestseller. What an attractive title! I’d love to read someone’s insight about how to make a Christian bestseller. As I’ve mentioned in the past about this topic, everyone that I know within publishing would love to know how to make a bestseller. Unfortunately there is no single formula to make a Christian bestseller or a general market bestseller. When your title raises the benefit to the reader, you have an obligation to fulfill that benefit. This book fails to tell the reader how to make a Christian bestseller. In fact, it never addresses the issue and the word “bestseller” doesn’t appear in the index. As a reader, I was disappointed with the unfulfilled promise.
The other key problem with this book is the cover design. Because I work inside publishing, I fully understand the author has little control or input regarding the book cover. The combination of fluorescent orange and white is deadly and unreadable. It’s like printing your Christmas letter on red paper. Yes, some people do it but it’s not the easiest to see or read. One of my publishing friends called this cover, “The worst on the planet.” I can only show you the front cover but the back of this book is also fluorescent orange with white type. It’s almost impossible to read the information. The back cover contains two great endorsements from Sally E. Stuart (marketing guru and author of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide) and Andy Scheer (Managing Editor of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild).
The title which matches the contents of this book is captured in the subtitle: An Insider’s Guide to Christian Publishing. The subtitle is reason to purchase this book and learn from the various chapters. Ann Byle has done a masterful job of gathering over 30 voices from inside Christian publishing on different aspects of the business. Many of these working professionals have never been interviewed in any other book—and have valuable insight about the workings of the industry. I know a number of these contributors because I’ve served with them on the faculty of a writers conference or worked with them on a magazine article assignment or crossed paths with them in another aspect of publishing. These individuals build tremendous value for the reader into the contents of this book. I’m going to highlight a few of these people in another entry about the Writing Life. It’s simply too bad to discover great contents wrapped in the wrong title and the wrong cover.