Finding the right book cover design and title

Finding the perfect book cover design concept can be a stressful task. Book covers should give readers a sneak peek of what to expect and set an overall tone for the journey ahead. Without a strong cover, readers may decide against investing their time and money into reading your book.

As a freelance editor, I love it when clients share cover concepts for a manuscript I’ve edited. It’s fun to give my two cents and see how the final cover turns out. Sharon Waters is a longtime client and friend who I’ve worked with on several of her books. I didn’t think the original title and cover design for her latest project did her excellent memoir justice. I’ll let her tell you about her path to finding the perfect book cover and title.

I entered the tech business early in the Internet evolution and when websites entered the picture, I was creating them both as a regular job and as a personal sideline. They were so new I had to talk prospective clients into letting me design a website for them, sometimes for pay or even in exchange for their products or services. 

As a new medium, websites quickly became the focus of marketing study. I learned that text and images must capture the prospective audiences’ attention and interest within the first seven seconds of viewing. With so much competition in bookstores and online now, I’m sure those first few seconds are even more important. That’s the job of your title and book cover. 

I worked on ideas for my latest book for fifteen years and it morphed from a I’m-not-sure-what-it-is, to a social commentary, to finally, a memoir. The narrative never would have worked until I limited my topic to my own experience. But I blundered by staying stuck with my original title and cover concepts and trying to convince myself they’d work; my content came together, but my title and cover were as vague as the content I started with. 

My editor, Stacy, to the rescue! She commented that nudity (the image I had chosen was an illustration, but still, a mostly nude subject) would be rejected by publishers and promoters. The last thing I needed was to begin with that strike against me. Plus, my image choice was arresting, but not indicative of my content. 

With my content complete, I went back to the drawing board for my book cover. It was a miracle that I had saved a picture of me that was published in a national magazine when I was eight—it showed me perched precariously atop a post. It was the perfect example to indicate the precarious situations I had faced throughout my life. My title, Tipping the Balance: A Memoir of Life on the Edge, resulted from choosing that image. 

I prefer to design my own book covers, and my years designing websites has helped me accomplish that. For a memoir, I wanted the cover image to express something personal, not manufactured or slick. The choice of a faded image from the 1950s expressed it perfectly. A glance conveys that it’s about an individual, a young girl who grew up in those times and early on began to experience the precariousness of her life circumstances. With the pushback to find a better cover and title, I couldn’t have done better with the revision. 

About The Author

The variety of themes for her books parallel Ms. Waters’s diverse lifestyles. Raised in a small upper New York state town near the Lake Ontario, she attended a traditional liberal arts college nestled near the Appalachian region. From there, she broadened her constrained world with visits to the creative hubs of New York and Boston and jaunts through Europe, South America and the United States. 

She began her adult life as a conventional housewife mirroring her conservative upbringing, then became a single mother of three, returned to school, climbed the corporate ladder in technology, and finally dropped out of everything to become a vagabond wandering the eastern seaboard with her two dogs and a cat. Wherever she journeys, Ms. Waters strives to understand the landscapes, social cultures, and people around her. She has studied her topics in-depth, and her personal experiences enhance her perception of what many others must face. Throughout her shifting locations and lifestyles, animals have been her constant companions, from a goldfish that accompanied her to college to her beloved dogs that populate her books. People who love animals find particular comfort in her life stories.

Sharon Waters

Ms. Waters is always seeking the next place, the next experience. She explored a variety of interests from keeping an assortment of animals amounting to a petting zoo, to serving as a crew member on a tall ship. She achieved her open water diving certificate at the age of sixty-nine, completing it on a cold, windy day in November on the Atlantic seaboard. But she was just getting started. She had settled near the ocean, but then reduced all her possessions to what could fit in an RV and traveled for three years with just her pets.

Although her topics are varied, she has experienced each one of them profoundly and hopes to connect with her readers through the telling of her adventures, joys and sorrows. Ms. Waters broke through personal boundaries and cultural barriers to find satisfaction in a self-defined life. Through her many transformations, Ms. Waters found strength, confidence, and finally peace. She shows how learning and facing challenges can be successful at any age and in unlikely circumstances. She hopes her readers relate, enjoy, and find their own serenity through her writing.

She has authored books about family relationships (Estrangement of Parents by their Adult Children – first and revised second editions), her three-year odyssey in an RV (Three Years in a Walmart Parking Lot), the deep bond she’s shared with her animal friends (Milo, Fear and Joy in a Magic Dog) and her memoir including social reflections from the 1940s to the present (Tipping the Balance: A Memoir of Life on the Edge).

how to choose the right book cover

About The Book

Ms. Waters’s bittersweet memoir reveals an emotionally turbulent life teetering on the edge between anguish and resilience. In this manifesto-turned memoir, she writes of loves and loves lost, survival, forgiveness, and adventures in faraway places. Told in vivid anecdotes, this poignant story spotlights the precarious balance she maintains when her family and the people she meets impact her self-esteem and limit her ambitions in a male-dominated world, all the while examining the events and values from the 1940s to the present. 

The author survives ill-fated relationships, being swept out to sea, confronting an anaconda, raising children after divorce, and struggling with alcohol and prescribed drugs. Her recovery follows by crafting a dollhouse depicting good and evil, joining a tall ship crew, escaping on a three-year RV odyssey from New England to Florida with her pets, and befriending a wild bird. 

In spite of childhood illnesses and family trauma, summers gardening with her Gramma become a life-long reminder of what health and contented living are like. A zoo of animals, especially her Schipperke dogs, offer Ms. Waters comfort and salvation along her way. Just in time, she discovers that there’s no place like home in a garden of her own making. 

Buy Tipping the Balance: A Memoir of Life on the Edge on Amazon.

Visit Sharon on Facebook

Watch her video The Hello Bird on YouTube  – This backyard robin was befriended by Sharon, who dedicated Tipping the Balance to the Hello Bird.

 

 

 

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