Saturday, 16 August 2014

You Want to Call your Book Johann Gambolputty (etc) the Antidisestablishmentarianist

Signs of a problem: sitting in front of Photoshop weeping.

The symptoms: despair; regret.

In a homage to Monty Python, you decide to call your book Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm, the Antidisestablish-mentarianist.

You’ve announced to the world that your book will be called Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm, the Antidis-establishmentarianist and you’ve even taken out an (expensive) ad in your local paper. But now, it’s time to create your cover, and you’re having serious difficulty trying to arrange the text.

One thing to bear in mind when creating a cover is that many people will first encounter it in thumbnail form. A standard paperback is about 13cm wide and most eReaders are smaller again. Very few people will ever see the high resolution version of your book cover. Therefore, even if you manage to squeeze an exceptionally long book title onto a cover image, the text is likely to be unreadable without a magnifying glass.

Long words like ‘Antidisestablishmentarianist’ are particularly problematic. In order to fit in the width, the text will be tiny unless viewed on a poster-sized cover.

Do not be tempted to hyphenate long words on a book cover so that you can split them over multiple lines. This is a standard cover-design faux pas and can make your book look unprofessional. Yes, rules are there to be broken but a flagrant breach of cover experts’ advice screams arrogance.

However, whilst you should be mindful of cover design when naming your book, it is important not to pick a weaker title just to improve your thumbnail. Whilst Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm, the Antidisestablishmentarianist might cause cover-design frustrations, Politically-Minded Bob definitely doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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