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You’ve been told not to judge a book by its cover, right? I understand the sentiment, but we really can’t help ourselves. Covers contain crucial information both in their design and in their words. There is some information on a book’s cover that many people don’t know how to decipher. Let me tell you how to make sense of the information about authors, co-authors, editors, and contributors.
Names - Authors - Word - Co-authors - Contributions
When you see the names of two authors separated by the word “and,” it indicates they are co-authors. In general you would expect this means they have made roughly equal contributions to the book, in either the ideas or the writing. Usually the authors’ names are listed alphabetically, though if one person is much better known, his name may be first simply for purposes of marketing. In some circumstances one name may be in a bigger font than the other one. This tends to indicate that one person’s contribution was more significant than another’s, though it could also simply be marketing to emphasize the name that is most likely to catch the eye of a potential purchaser. In a co-author situation, you expect that both authors are compensated by drawing a royalty from the book’s sales, then dividing it among themselves.
Names - People - Word - Name - Author
When you see the names of two people separated by the word “with,” it indicates the first name is the author while the second is a collaborator. The author is the person responsible for the content with the collaborator the one responsible for the writing. This could mean it is a memoir with the subject of the memoir listed as the author and the collaborator as the one who has made that person’s story into a book (Cecil Murphy takes this role quite often, as does Lynn Vincent). It could also mean it is...
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