What is a metaphor? Metaphors are undoubtedly a master communication tool and use in book publishing is no exception.
A metaphor can be described as: a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/metaphor/
‘Heart of stone’ and ‘heart of gold’ are two common ones. These present images that convey quite complex abstract concepts. Instead of saying ‘he is a very good person with good motives’ we say he has a ‘heart of gold’. The first is long-winded, ‘heart of gold’ is interesting and colourful.
Its not just about words – metaphors are a good cover design technique.
Some of the best book cover designs we have accomplished use metaphor. This avoids the book publisher’s curse – trying to convince authors not adopt a book cover with literal imagery. One author wanted this image on their book called The Fisherman – this was a literal title. Guess what the book was about? It was about a fisherman. The fisherman went to the river and fished for fish. The cover (according to the author ) needed to have a picture of a man fishing i.e. a fisherman. The result – boring, boring, boring!
When we conduct a creative brief where you the author and we, the book designer discuss how the cover design will play out – it will pay for you to think about the designer using metaphor.
Here’s a little more from Grammarly:
- A metaphor states that one thing is another thing
- It equates those two things not because they actually are the same, but for the sake of comparison or symbolism
- If you take a metaphor literally, it will probably sound very strange (are there actually any sheep, black or otherwise, in your family?)
- Metaphors are used in poetry, literature, and anytime someone wants to add some colour to their language