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Arts & Entertainment

Book Titles And Covers

James Patterson

Lesson time 6:08 min

Readers do judge books by their covers. What should they think about yours?

James Patterson
Teaches Writing
James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.


No book has ever been bought that wasn't picked up, OK? And to some extent what makes you pick it up is the cover. It needs to immediately tell people that that's that genre that they love. Oh, I love mystery, oh I love Noir mysteries. It looks like a Noir mystery. But then, it needs to look like a unique Noir mystery, one I haven't read before. It's not just an issue of, boy that's a beautiful design, or that's cool, or that's innovative, or that's new, or I haven't seen that before. It really is a major communication about what's inside. All right, so this is my break out novel. The first title on this one was Remember Maggie Rose, and the girl who gets kidnapped, her name is Maggie Rose. So that was the first title. It's not a bad title. One of the issues with it, there's a couple issues with the title. One is, is it really good to be writing a book, that you want to really sell well, about a missing child to make that the key selling point, question mark. Secondly, when I sold this book, part of the deal was that they wanted a second book about Alex Cross. And I hadn't been thinking of a series, it was just going to be this one book. But the publisher wanted a second book. So then, we came into, OK, what can help people to identify that it's a series. And what I came up with was nursery rhyme titles, which hadn't been used in a big way. So Along Came A Spider, kind of scary, I can tell that it's going to be thrilling, it's going to be a little scary, but it's not a turn off, and especially in terms of the look of this. Art directors don't particularly like a lot of big type covers. But sometimes they're very, very effective. All of the Robert Ludlums were big type covers, all of the John Le Carre. People just go, OK, I get it, it's probably going to be a mystery thriller, it's probably going to be a page turner. So this is a real mass cover and it's the beginning of a series. And I don't know if it's brilliant brilliant, but it worked very well. Now, here, once again, the Little Brown really went all out for this. They got quotes from Nelson DeMille, and Clive Cussler, Ed McBain, Ann Rule, and Sidney Sheldon. So they really went for it in terms of-- you read this and you go, OK well, obviously, there's some-- One, if you like some of the authors you go, oh Nelson DeMille, I like him, he's smart. If he says it's good I'm going to kind of believe it. If you've got five big authors, it's communicating, obviously, there's a lot of enthusiasm about this book. So I'm feeling I'm feeling good about spending my money on this. No picture, which as you can see by looking at me, is a good idea. Honeymoon is a good title. Most people have either experienced it or want to experience it, it's a very emotional time. Nothing bad should happen on your honeymoon, nothing tragic, nothing horrifying. So the notion of writing...

Set out to write a best-selling book

James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, reveals his tricks of the trade. In his first online writing class, he guides you from the start to the finish of your book.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Terrific beginning to the course. Now, let's see if I can write fiction every day to start!

Writers don’t always make the best teachers but when you find someone who is both it’s a treasure. Thanks, hope you’ll buy my book one day.

I've learned a lot about keep a steady pace and trimming away excess writing. I decided to start each project with an outline and invest rich detail in that outline before I even begin the first draft. Thank you, James Patterson.

This masterclass has lifted the curse of several months of writers block by introducing structure and motivation. This has given me the encouragement I needed as well as the skill set to pace and appreciate my own creative mind. Now that the conflict is over the story can truly begin. Thanks James!!!


Carolyn G.

Fun lesson. But....I completely ignore all those accolades from other authors. They are all with the same publisher and are pushing their own work as much as that of the author of the book they're promoting. I have seen quotes from well-known authors for terrible books, and I know the authors didn't write them and probably didn't even read the book. And cover design? James, book stores are an endangered species. Many of us (or at least some of us, speaking personally) don't buy physical books anymore - even though we may spend plenty on our digital addiction. (I can show you my kindle bill.) Gotta have new strategies for the digital age.

Terry M.

I picked out your books Violets are Blue and Beach Road because they were things that I liked.

Shayne O.

A modern day memoir of the developing relationship between an urbane Australian woman and a traditional Jordanian Bedouin. Mainly plays out in Jordan. Imagery fair to say involves Jordanian monuments and landscapes and distant figures photographed or painted from the back. Reminiscent of photos taken whilst in Jordan and Egypt) - Bedouin Dreamtime (playing homage to the Bedouin culture and Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime although not indigenous myself) - Bedouin Dreams or Bedouin Dreaming (Again Bedouin homage and dreams because inconceivably they became reality) - Desert, Dust and Dresses (In other words no 3rd one really but mainly homage to Jordan and for my amusement)

Omar R.

For my short novel that im currently writing these are the three possible titles The Diary of An Astronaut The Astronaut and the Planetary Gods The Astronaut and the Gods of the Solar System

Margot B.

I love naming things and have named and designed the covers for both of my books. I found the image for Spirituality and Business on a site providing free or for purchase images. I picked saffron/orange because it is the color of monks and renunciates in India. For Psychology in the Light of the East, I superposed the Hindu God Krishna's trident over the Greek epsilon used to represent my field (psychology). When I got the image back from the designer, I was astonished to see a chalice which, to me represents Judeo-Christian spirituality and the letter I in the middle which fits into the theme of psychology. I'm now moving on to my first non-academic work (or what I affectionately call 'post-academic', a fictionalized memoir. I haven't designed the cover for that yet, but the title jumped into my mind and sticks.

Kim G.

This is great, it also helps to have a creative team to help design the book covers too, thanks!

A fellow student

"They would hit me with the creampie, then with the creampie all over my face, I would say 'This is the whole secret' okay" lulz

John D.

The cream-pie analogy was on point. Will not forget that, and I didn't even have to get my face dirty.

Miles T.

I like book covers that show what the main characters look like and what trouble they are in.

Chris M.

Really? No. your book covers work because they have your name on the. To have any value in this conversation we'd have to go back to your first book