A follow up to a thought and a favour

Yesterday I posted on my current book and raised the issue of the cover. Interestingly while that generated comment (which I will come on to) so did a topic I didn’t raise specifically. The title

God Bothering

Why didn’t I raise the title as a ‘what do you think’? Nerves, complacency? Not sure. One of my earlier beta readers suggested it was misleading, sounding more non fiction than fiction and another person queried whether it suggested something more religious than the subject matter warrants.

So then I read the comments.

Deb Foy says:

As for the cover, it seems to incorporate all the themes you mentioned the book is about though it first struck me as the cover for a theological rather than a fiction work.

I know she’s talking about the cover but I suspect a lot of that feeling is around the name which hits you first. Thank you Deb! And here’s the link to check her blog out – she is a class act at flash, btw, as you will see if you go there.

Then Anne Goodwin added:

But I never liked the title. Not sure what would work as an alternative but you might need something to flag it as a thriller. The something project? I really don’t know.

Anne was an early beta reader (as in years ago, and the book has changed mightily since but a lot of the themes remain, naturally). And if you don’t know Anne (a) you should – here’s her blog (b) she’s very honest! Love her for that.

So at least four independently minded people have raised a query about the title and it is very fair. I love my title but I think I love it because I’ve had it since the very start – like my security blanket as a child and that fell apart through an excess of  love and drool. I think that may be the case with this title…

As I grapple with that I’d ask you other lovely people if you agree with that first impression. Does  having ‘God’ in the title trigger an auto-response that colours what you might expect? I’d be interested, honest.

And the cover? Well I had comments such as ACE and AWESOME and a lot of compliments. But then yet another of these brutally honest women who follow me (what have I done!!) popped up with something really really helpful which neither I nor my young artist (who hasn’t done a cover for a book before) thought about. I’ll let Lori’s words tell you what the issue is.

Okay, I guess I’m going to be the dissenter on the cover. The base image is fabulous – very compelling – but this cover will not work well for online sales. First, it isn’t high-contrast enough. In thumbnail size it’s going to look like an amorphous blob, which takes away a lot of its appeal. You might also consider a bolder color base to make it more visible. Having a white background can also be tricky when you’re selling online, as edges can be difficult to see. However, because the image itself is so busy, you’ll probably have a hard time coming up with a good background image, and a simple color fill might be a bit plain. Finally, the text needs to be completely reworked – it looks unprofessional as it is, which offers a very strange contrast to the image, which is itself so amazing. It needs to be bigger and chunkier – your name isn’t even legible in the thumbnail. I’ve put together a quickie revised version which I will tweet to you so you can see what I mean. It isn’t perfect, but if you look at them side by side you may be able to guide your designer into producing an image that’s more book-cover-friendly. I’m also going to recommend submitting the cover to Joel Friedlander’s eBook cover design awards, which he runs monthly: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/e-book-cover-design-awards-submissions/. It’s free and for most submissions, he gives professional feedback on design which goes far beyond my limited understanding of the subject, which may help you to pinpoint how best to use this image on your cover.

Lori Schaffer, another great blogger you should get to know (here) and read her memoire; it’s the most compelling thing I’ve read in ages.

I hadn’t considered the size reduction issue and George and I will take this away and see what we can do. Anyone in the process of their own self publishing and cover production might like to bear in mind Lori’s sage words and her recommendation.

Here’s the cover again, because I like it so much and you may better understand Lori’s concerns…

God Bothering 3

I hope none of Deb, Anne and Lori mind me quoting them; I d it because their words are so helpful to me and maybe be to you too and I’d like to say thank you to them (indeed to everyone who has commented) for helping me onwards and upwards…

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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26 Responses to A follow up to a thought and a favour

  1. I still think the cover is brilliant. However. I was picturing this big, glorious hardcover. Lori knows so much more than I do about this and pretty much everything she says in her comment makes sense. As far as the title, since you’re asking, I don’t like it for this book. I love Anne’s idea of The … Project or something along those lines.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Foy says:

    I don’t mind in the least. Thanks for the kind words in fact! 🙂
    Personally, I try to provide honest feedback because it’s what I would want and all praises make me suspicious *glances sideways and behind*
    I think Lori’s analysis is dead on so while the cover shows incredible talent, it might not be tailored toward the audience you want. The title I didn’t think much of and that may well have been because I’d never heard the expression (thanks, wiki!). Maybe if it had another cover picture it could work but it does sound a bit theological as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you for taking the time, Deb. It’s never easy to categorise what I want that encompasses the book. I think the cover has a lot of merit and maybe I need to simplify it for the e market. The title is definitely under threat…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Left you a belated response on your original post. God in the title doesn’t trigger an immediate response but seeing the embryonic shape and the DNA chain slinking down the cross tells me this ain’t a story for bible thumpers and I don’t think anyone can confuse the cover with something religious or non-fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amber says:

    Without reading what your story is about, but seeing the title with the cover, my first impression would be that the book would belong in the theology genre. However, separately, I love both. But, like Sarah, I also pictured the cover art on a hardback book and not an e-book.

    The synopsis sounds exciting and intriguing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Amber. Definitely having a rethink around the title now. As I was saying to Charli (or was it Sarah?!) the title came early on when the book was only half formed and may not really encapsulate what happens now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sacha Black says:

    Have to say the theological point is a good one I hadn’t thought of that. But I guess in conjunction with the title it strikes as a philosophical debate. BUT I didn’t think that on first look – only now ive read this post…..

    Could you add a hyphen and something after it to elaborate?

    God Bothering – the blah blah blah ??

    Also a good point about the reduction issue online… I’ve learnt loads from this post. Have to say white covers aren’t always my first choice, but I do still love the image and I hadnt thought of any of the points mentioned above I just thought it looked great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Sacha. I’m genuinely moving away from the ‘god’ in the title even though I love it a little too much. I think the cover, with the cross and double helix is enough. Still on we go. So glad I opened up the debate.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Annecdotist says:

    Guilty as charged, Geoff! I often read posts first thing in the morning but don’t comment until I’ve woken up bit. In the gap, there’s great potential for me to turn your words into something completely different to what you intended.
    Regarding both the title and the cover (Lori is spot-on about how the cover will look as an icon competing with hundreds of others, something I also learnt on an e-book course but nevertheless continue to judge covers by what they look like on my desk) I’d say go back to WHY you want to publish your novel and where you’re likely to do most of your promotion. It seems to me you’ve built up a large and supportive blog following, many of whom would buy your books whatever they were called and, if that’s your priority, I’d stick with both title and cover that you feel reflects you and your novel. (I’m not saying DON’T aim higher – or should that be wider, given that we Tangential cheerleaders are really the tops – just to be clear about what you want. I’m thinking that some big-name novels – the latest Nick Hornby being a case in point – have really horrible covers, but there made up of simple shapes and bright colours that stand out. Though I’d love to see the mockup that Lori has done for you, she’s got a great eye even when she has her tongue planted firmly in her cheek, as she did for Sugar and Snails).
    To say a little bit more about the title, I wouldn’t see it as a non-fiction book necessarily, but the word God doesn’t particularly excite me, though I am interested in religion, the nuttier the better. Perhaps you need to go back to identifying the USP of the novel and build your title around that.
    And, of course, I’m honoured to be quoted, along with the link. And yes, I did read your post earlier this morning and haven’t gone back to check what you really said, so hoping this isn’t too far off the mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Given what you and others have kindly volunteered I will now rethink the title. The truth is, if I think about it, that I came up with the title well before the book had finally taken shape and it is sort of hanging on.
      I know when you read it the father element sagged after half way but that has been strengthened in the (many) rewrites so I might look at something around that.
      I think with the cover that the foetus, cross and interwoven double are strong elements and may well stay and the noise around the background shapes of city scape and continents might go. Thanks again for taking the time to comment so thoroughly. Looking forward to doing the same for you!!

      Like

  7. I didn’t comment originally because I’ve learned that most people really want ‘brilliant’ sort of comments. But here goes …

    From a very practical point of view, I wouldn’t pick it up based on the cover. The embryo and cross plus title would be enough to put me off. That’s really unhelpful isn’t it?

    Secondly, I actually think it looks busy. What’s the relevance of the cityscape? Is it significant? Especially the bit down the bottom that looks like a yard with a portocabin or something? I ask because I reviewed a book a while back with a pic of Tower Bridge on the front. The bridge occurred once in the book when the protagonist cycled across it on the way home.

    Conceptually I think it is a clever image, ie cross, chain (although whether everyone would work out what that was is another matter), plus foetus. I didn’t realise the cover was going to be white, probably because there is no border around the ‘cover’. You could consider different covers for ebooks and hard copy to get round the white issue on ebook sales.

    Grammatically, God Bothering is a difficult one to choose as a title. Is that the verb or the noun? And does it actually encapsulate the book well? If you like the title, fair enough, but why did you choose it, if it isn’t primarily about fundamental evangelicals?

    Have you drafted your blurb yet? Do the cover and blurb reflect each other? Has your artist read the book and has your editor commented on the cover? I know those are basic questions, but an author told me a while back that she’d never thought of asking her editor for a view about the cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you so much for this; as you can see I really do appreciate such helpful critiques: I seem to have attracted a few followers who are happy to oblige!
      The title first. I realise, now I’ve put myself on the spot that it lags the book. When I first crafted the idea for the story the evangelical element was stronger than now and the combination of title and cover over emphasises this element (one f the other but not both). It’s a verb (at least in my head), btw. So I will reanalyse the title and as you say, it needs to sit alongside the blurb. On that I have drafted a blurb with which I am not happy but it is getting there. Combining the two, or at least making sure they sit together is a very good test of a title. And of course that takes us to the cover and the compatibility between them.
      Overall I understand I need to change the background and sharpen the imagery. The cities are important but not essential for the cover, especially with the continental shapes there too. But they do blur the imagery. I am sitting down with my artist tomorrow to have a rethink.
      And yes my editor will be involved. On my first book he made several excellent suggestions on cover and blurb. He has yet to be involved on this book so he will receive everything soon and let me have his wisdom.
      Thank you again for commenting.

      Like

  8. willowdot21 says:

    As usual I am comminglate to the disscussion ( I have a note from my mother … well not really as she has been gone a long time!) But I love the title …would the cover be better in Black and white , I love the design of the cover! Okay it’s all been said I shall shut up and be on time next time! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah, notes from mother; yes, they were godsends weren’t they but as scarce as hen’s teeth. Glad you like the title; I think part of the problem is it is an expression unknown to the Americans so tens to either fall flat or be misconstrued. I will give it some thought. Thank you for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yvonne says:

    Very interesting post Geoff. I agree with everything Lori says about your cover in thumbnail size. I’ve read and read about covers and I’m still I’m not sure I know what works, but every article agrees that the cover is the single most important thing when it comes to selling books online. It’s funny, because when I tell people this they say, “I don’t buy a book because of its cover; I read the blurb and the “look inside.” But what makes us decide which blurbs to read? The cover of course! I’ve heard of people who changed their cover and doubled sales. We’ve changed my own novel’s cover twice, but it hasn’t led to a dramatic increase, so I’m still not certain we’ve got it right.

    By the way, I was about to nominate you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award, but I see you have its badge below, so are you up for it again, combined with an ‘Author’ book tour where you share a bit about your process? (4 people have now nominated me for various things I it’s time I got a post up in response!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I sat with the designer today and we have made some changes which ill I think improve things a lot. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
      And thank you for the offer of the VBA. I am rather ambivalent about the awards that are made. I am truly grateful for the compliment and recognition and would never be so rude as to turn down the offer out of hand, but I don’t want to pass it on. It seems to me that the ‘award’ should be when someone truly recognises someone else as being worthy and not because of the requirement of acceptance that you pass it on. So rather than feel I’m letting you down by not complying with the rules it is probably best if I decline. I should probably make this clear by the badges on my site as they probably seem rather misleading being there. The author book is not something I have participated in before. I woud be perfectly happy to be imvolved in that but if the two are liked then I must decline that also. But really, thank you so much for thinking of me.

      Like

      • Yvonne says:

        Thanks Geoff. It’s fine just to be in the author tour. You can then just tag one or 2 other writers (or as many as you like. Or stop there if you want. It’s taken me 6 months to get round to it!) I’m also ambivalent about these awards, which is partly why I’ve asked first rather than just tag people. Luckily I find both the authors I’d already chosen to feature inspiring, so I’ve added them to that part. (I’ve also included someone just in that part because she has been inspiring in how she’s dealt with a serious illness.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        that sounds brilliant; do let me know what to do as and when. I assume you might be a trifle busy just now or has the 1000 voices admin eased off? I must say I am getting really excited and been tinkering with a draft post for a while. I have the theme but now I need to hone and tone it.

        Like

      • Yvonne says:

        Just a thought regarding your title – whilst doing my MA I wrote a story with an “ing” verb in it, and my tutors really did not like that. I’m sure that somewhere I still have their critique telling me why it was a bad idea, but I can’t 100% remember, just that it was.
        Also, it occurred to me that this might be a very British phrase (even a south of England phrase? My husband is also from south of England, uses it a lot and so I’ve grown used to it, but it seems other people are less familiar.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        That’s brilliant Yvonne; yes a number of Americans have had difficulty with it (maybe my Scottish correspondents are too shy to say!) And the prescriptive nature of MA tutors, ha! Mine at least admitted she was rubbish at titles! The title is going to have to go, I fear. I have a storng theme around the damage fathers an do and thought ‘the sins of the father…’ only to find Jeffrey Archer has the Sin of the Father. That was it, I’m afraid for that idea…!

        Like

  10. Sorry, I can’t help as much as these wonder ladies can, Geoff. All I can say is if I saw the book on Amazon or on a bookshelf I would be put off by the word “God” in the title, because to me it says the book may be religious. Now I’m not religious at all, but I would agree that if the cover or title told me the book was a thriller, then I’ve have a totally different view.

    Just my thoughts from me, who has never written a book, so knows very little about the industry. I hope it helps, even if only a little.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      You are in an increasing group Hugh so I think the title goes. Religion is an important back drop to the story but is not the main thrust which is about the damage fathers can do. So on with the thinking caps…

      Like

  11. julitownsend says:

    I’m hopeless at titles, covers, synopses, blurbs, and associated marketing tasks, but it doesn’t stop me from having an opinion. Before I saw the cover, and not knowing anything about the book, I liked the title, but when I saw the foetus on the cover combined with the word God – instant turn off. Sorry, it screamed opinionated anti-abortionists to me.
    Happy you found my blog and thereby introduced me to yours. I think we probably have Hugh to thank for that.

    Liked by 1 person

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