A visually arresting image is the first thing readers notice about a cover, as Art Director Kerri Davis explains in this post. But in that brief moment of attention you also have to have the right words to whet their appetites and invite them to actually open the issue and sample all the delicious content. So how do we make ’em dig in?

Word games. Cover blurb time is word play time at Hammock. Depending on the audience, we might play with puns (“Arts, Cynics and Old Lace” promotes the history of the lace-making industry), tease with phrases that carry double meanings (“Iron Lady” profiles the woman who helped build the Brooklyn Bridge) or play it straight with needed solutions (“Beat Burnout”) or timely information (“Warriors’ Weekend”).

Promises, promises. Who doesn’t want to be better, stronger, faster, smarter? We try not to over-do it, but if we can deliver the goods to help our readers do their jobs or live their lives more successfully, we’ll promote it with blurbs like “7 Steps to Faster Growth,” “10 Ways to Save Gas” or even “How to Cook a Colonial Breakfast.” That said, we don’t over-promise–if it’s not the first time we’ve done this or if she’s not the only woman to have done that, we won’t say so just for the hook.

I’m talking to you. We question, listen to and study our audiences to learn what topics they want to read about most–and then give the people what they want. What excites our readers? Do they enjoy stories about genealogy? We’ll use related words on the cover to signal, “Hey, we heard you! Take a look at this story about finding your family photos online.”

Want more? Take a look at this expanded post on Hammock’s Custom Media Craft blog.