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Why You Should Design Your Book Cover Before You Write Your Book

I’ve just started a new novel. My fifth. And so, as I habitually do, I find myself flipping through the only two books on writing I keep on my desk: Three Uses of the Knife, by David Mamet, and Save the Cat!, by Blake Snyder. Two very different books, to be sure. But having read 50 or more books on the writing craft, these are the only two I still find useful.

Snyder’s emphasis on writing appealing, high-concept screenplays has a lot to say to the novelist. His advice to write your logline and design the movie poster in advance is advice we could all learn from.

A good logline must hook the reader with irony. This is the one-liner that sells the book–not only to the studio executive, but up and down the line during production, and feeds word of mouth once the movie comes out.

“Yo dude, what movie ya wanna go see this weekend?”
“I heard about this great one. Called [your title here].”
“Yo cool, man. What’s it about?”
“It’s about a guy who…[your logline here].”

As novelists, we also rely on word of mouth. It’s the only real advertising that matters. So why wouldn’t you spend a couple of days before undertaking a novel to make sure you’ve got your logline nailed?

And this goes double for the book cover. If you do not have a punchy, irony-soaked logline, your cover will suck too. Do not begin writing your book before you’ve got the logline nailed, and with an ironic book cover to match.

Written by: J.M. Porup

Novelist J.M. Porup is An American Dissident in Exile. Read More


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