Writing, 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?

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

Topics include: Favorite titles and covers


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...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

James Patterson

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

Explore the Class
Sign Up