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Questions about title (and cover)

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  #1  
Old 05-28-2016, 10:49 PM
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Default Questions about title (and cover)


I am writing a book which straddles genres: primarily a non-fiction book, but set in a fictional setting (a bit in the tradition of Mark Haddon, Denis Guedj, Hans Enzensberger, Júlio César de Mello e Souza (alias Malba Tahan), Guillermo Martínez and Apostolos Doxiadis). The inserted explanations would make it a lousy novel, but there is enough fiction so that if you removed the pedantry, you would still end up with a novel. But one of my problems is that the book is introducing a topic that few people know about. Choosing a title becomes tricky, because the standard advice says to choose a title that (1) entices the reader to make her read the book, (2) will also appear in an Internet search for the topic, (3) gives a good idea what the book is about, and (4) is short. Since few people know the topic, they will not search for it, and to explain it in the title would make it too long. To put the area in which the idea is one element in the title would not only be too broad, and would not only not entice, but would frighten away most of the prospective readers: the topic is a popularization of a certain idea taken from mathematical logic (for the lay person, without formulas). Mathematics, eek!
Eventually this problem will arise when I consider the picture for the book cover: the designer probably won't read the book, and I will have to present her with an idea for the cover. (True, a lot of covers have very little to do with the content, but...) The advice about the cover tends to be similar to that for the title.
So, I would be very grateful for ideas that go beyond the standard advice presented above.

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Old 05-29-2016, 08:09 AM
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Hi nomadreid.

I suggest half a day of research. Do research by starting with "Book Cover Designers". The good ones will have portfolios of their work.

Instead of thinking of the cover as a visual picture of the story why not come up with something which creates a response because it creates the emotional content of the story? Develop a list of words which is compatable with the reading experience.

I did this with a Novella and I came up with: surreal, loneliness, isolated. I then did a searches using each word plus "art and photos." Your search engine has a category for 'visuals' and if you choose that you'll see many visual takes on that word.

Good luck.

wrc
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Old 05-29-2016, 08:39 AM
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Thanks, wrc. This is good advice concerning the cover; I have indeed spent several hours going through designers' advice and covers. If I threw away the mathematical content (no panic, it's not the kind of mathematics you had in school, with horrible formulas), then I could restrict my cover (and my title) to the emotional impact. But this would not be sufficiently descriptive of the contents. (In the other direction, if I only described the mathematical contents in the title or cover, that would make it appear drier than it is.)
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:17 AM
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I think you're overcomplicating. How many books have a cover that genuinely reflects the contents, and how many are designed to catch the eye?

And titles too - millions of people bought A Brief History of Time, depite it being full of maths and science. Had the title been less punchy, would as many people have bought it?

The cover and the title serve one purpose only - to make people take a second look. If I like the look of a book I pick it up and read the blurb on the back. If I like that I read the first page. If I like that, I buy it. Simple. All you have to do is make me pick it up.
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:34 AM
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good points, wyf. I wonder how many people I could disgust by putting a scantily clad couple in a suggestive position on the cover with a title like "What lies under those....", and they open it up to find mere prose with no lascivious scenes....
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