Advice For Writers

Book Cover, Title, Blurb

Book cover. Title. Burb.

These comprise the holy trinity of indie publishing success.

In a recent post to the 20Booksto50K forum, super indie author Craig Martelle challenged authors to post the title of their latest book, plus the first few lines from the blurb. For those of you wondering, the blurb is the description readers see when they view your book on Amazon.

Since your cover is the first hurdle readers cross when choosing their next book, it’s important your cover screams, “This is your target genre!” Competition is fierce, and you can’t survive with second-rate covers, weird titles, and poor blurbs.

I’ll give you an example of a bad book title. Don’t worry, it’s mine.

I named my first novel Storberry. Can you guess the genre? Neither can I. Storberry doesn’t tell potential readers they’re about to read a vampire horror novel. My name isn’t Stephen King, and I can’t name my novels “The Shining” or “Tommyknockers” and expect readers to figure out the genre. 

Storberry has a so-so cover and a decent blurb. Neither are good enough to overcome the horrible title. Unless you’re a household name, you need to nail the cover, title, and blurb to experience success as an author.

Did you design your own cover? If so, I hope you’re a professional cover designer. Did you purchase a second-rate cover because the cheap price attracted you? Sorry, no sale.

Is your title too clever for its own good? Unless the title fits your target genre, readers won’t know what your book is about and will pass you by. 

What about your blurb? How much effort did you put into your book description? Unless your description sells the book, readers will walk away without buying.

Case Study

Now let’s examine the first novel in my Wolf Lake series. First, the cover.

Caroline Teagle Johnson designed the cover for Her Last Breath. I love it. The moment I showed the cover to a thriller writer’s group I belong to, writers heaped praise and asked me who created the design. It fits the psychological thriller (or serial killer thriller) genre and is instantly recognizable to potential readers. Put a check in box one.

The title Her Last Breath also fits the genre. The title need not be overly artistic. In fact, I’ll argue it shouldn’t be. Come straight at your readers. As my Calculus II professor once told me, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”


And now the description:

He’s hunting a psychopath. And now the killer wants him dead.

After he’s shot in the line of duty, Detective Thomas Shepherd returns to Wolf Lake to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Living beside the water, he finds peace…until the body of a missing woman washes up on his shore and the town blames a teenage boy with a history of violence. Is a killer stalking the sleepy resort village?

Thomas isn’t convinced the teenager committed murder. Challenging a village that wants justice at any cost, he pursues the real killer as evidence mounts against the teenager. If he fails, an innocent boy will go to prison.

Can Thomas clear the boy’s name before he becomes the killer’s next victim?


And there’s your genre-specific, hooky blurb.

Her Last Breath currently ranks #22 in U.S. Horror on Amazon. When you nail the cover, title, and blurb, you give yourself a chance for success.

Now it’s your turn. List the title of your book, plus the first few lines from the description. Let’s see if everyone can guess the genre.

*** But no links. Just your title and blurb. ***

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