Saturday, December 27, 2008


Tantalizing Titles, Bodacious Book Covers, and Marvelous Marketing

by LuAnn Schindler

As a writer, you want readers to focus their attention on your book when they are perusing choices in bookstores and libraries. A tantalizing title, bodacious book cover, and marvelous marketing campaign certainly help sales!

A title that recently caught my attention features this oxymoron: Good Christian Bitches by Dallas native Kim Gatlin. (Brown Books, 2008)

As a writer, I appreciate a good oxymoron. The contradiction of terms catches the reader's attention and arouses curiosity. And Gatlin's novel certainly piques my curiosity.

Which came first: the title of this juicy chick lit tale or the storyline? In Gatlin's case, the title.

The author says that while going through a divorce, she talked to a friend about some of the comments people from her community were making about her and her situation.

"I was shocked that some women in the community couldn't wait to tell my story and ad lib some of it they weren't sure about," says Gatlin. "I told her I was floored and appalled by some of the behavior of these good Christian women. My friend turned and said, 'You mean good Christian bitches.' I busted out laughing."

And a title was born.

Gatlin says that in her book, vicious gossip and the ladies who spread the words undermine the main character's life, and she knew she needed a title that would intrigue readers.

"I knew I couldn't name it Good Christian Sinners. It would sit on the shelf, and people who need to read it won't read it," stresses Gatlin. "The term identifies that kind of behavior, kind of like the 'bridezilla' label explains how a bride might act."

Gatlin reports that she's only received a couple negative comments about her debut novel's title, and she believes that those negative remarks came from people who just didn't get what the book is about.

"One thing I've noticed is that the book and its title have made the nasty people nastier and the lovely people lovelier. Some people make assumptions of what it's about. Most people laugh because most understand the concept immediately," remarks Gatlin.

The book's cover certainly draws attention; it even received a mention in Newsweek and buzz in Hollywood. Gatlin reports that in her corner of the world - the greater Dallas metro area - some women dress like the woman on the cover.

"I've dressed like that. I have friends, Christian women, who dress like that: the big crosses, the big cleavage. It's not all about who they are, but they will wear outfits like it on occasion."

The original cover design was dark with red letters and red lipstick. Gatlin feels it had too sinister of look and sent it back to the drawing board for a makeover.

"I wanted it to be lighter, funnier, prettier. I went with the pink tones, the blonde woman with the diamond cross pendant and earrings, and the raised foil lettering." The clever cover draws as much speculation about the storyline as the title. And that, Gatlin says, will draw interest.

The font on the cover features a heavenly script of gold and silver with symbols of the good (halo) and evil (devil's fork). The choice of font is significant because it resembles heavily artistic fonts used in church documents during the Renaissance. It adds one more hook in the total marketing package.

Remove the book jacket and find one more marketing tool: the novel resembles a hymnal.

Gatlin says that the final product incorporates her intent as an author and embraces her vision for taking a light-hearted look at the frailty of human nature by addressing gossip and rumors.

"You can't lead a campaign for Christ and a hate campaign about someone else at the same time," says Gatlin.

Reading, talking about literature, and generating a reaction through discussion is what reading is all about. Gatlin says that when you use a topic people can relate to as the basis of a novel, people are going to talk about it.

"At the end of the day, I don't care who you are or how beloved you are, you've been gossiped about one time or other or you've gossiped about someone."

True. And you can also title a book with a juicy oxymoron and add a sizzling hot book jacket to generate buzz and sales.

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