Sunday, June 18, 2017

Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover? #SelfPublishing #Marketing

We've all heard the phrase 'never judge a book by its cover'. But the truth of the matter is most readers do judge. It's the first impression they have of your novel. And if you're going to self publish your own novel, that's something you need to keep in mind.

Marketing is a scary word for most writers. The vast majority tend to be introverts who'd rather spend their days typing out words than thinking about how to sell their book. But the reality is, if you're going to self publish your novel, you do need to think about these things. One of the first marketing decisions you will need to make is choosing a cover.

I wrote a blog post a while back about the different options an author has when choosing a cover: pre-made, stock, or custom, so I won't be covering that again. If you'd like to check out the other blog post click HERE.

A lot more goes into choosing a cover for your novel that just deciding on whether to use a pre-made cover, a cover with a stock photo, or doing a custom shoot.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Genre. It's always a good idea to research your genre. By that I mean go to Amazon and find out what books are in the top 100 Paid in your category. Look at the covers and look for similarities, themes. Are there certain colors that are common? Do most of them have people on them? Objects? Is the font fancy script or more of a block type lettering? It may not seem all that important now, but keep in mind this is what readers are buying in your genre. They are buying it for a reason.

  • What Fits Your Story? While you want a cover that fits into your genre, what you don't want is a cover that says nothing about your story. If you're writing a fantasy novel about witches, you probably don't want a half naked man on the cover. There are also some readers that are picky about hair and eye color, so if you're using models on your cover keep that in mind when selecting the picture/models you're going to use. 

  • Branding. This is a step many authors forget about when it comes to marketing, but your brand as an author is very important. When it comes to covers, the thing to remember is consistency. This can take on a few forms. 
    1. Your Name. It sounds simple enough, right? But making sure your name appears in the same font on all your covers is important. It's like your signature that identifies you as being you. It also looks neater and more professional when you have multiple books in one place. 
    2. Titles. This one is a little more flexible. Not every title of every book you write has to be in the same font or have the same cadence to it, etc. But if the books are part of the same series, then having that consistency is very important. Again, it looks more professional, but it's also a signal to readers that these books belong together, so if they like one then they will most likely like the other. Below are two of my series. You can clearly see by the design and titles which books belong together.

Details matter and your book cover needs to convey the story you want it to to potential readers. Consider what appeals to you when you're browsing through a bookstore for a new book. 

  • Thumbnail. What is a thumbnail, you might ask? A thumbnail in the book world is how we refer to the small picture of your book cover on Amazon. Considering most authors sell more than half their ebooks via Amazon's website, how your book looks on the site while readers are scrolling through potential books to buy is important. The picture needs to be clean, crisp, and it needs to draw the eye of the reader.
          Some common mistakes I see are:
    1. The Cover Is Too Dark. It's fine that your book has dark elements, but if a reader can't see those elements on the cover then that doesn't help you sell that book. 
    2. The Font Is Too Small. People need to be able to read what's on your cover, even at a thumbnail size. As you can see from the covers I posted above, the titles are clear and stand out. Some authors choose to make their name more prominent and if you've built up a big enough fan base that makes sense as your name will automatically draw readers. Personally, I prefer the story take center stage, so I want my titles to be what stands out the most.
    3. There's Just Too Much Going On. If your cover has too much stuff on it, it ends up looking like a garbled mess...especially on a thumbnail. Keep it simple. Your cover should be a snapshot of your story. Once you get a potential reader to click that buy button, then they can discover all the other fascinating elements you have within your book. 

Don't forget your cover is most likely the first thing readers will notice. First impressions are everything. Make it a good one.

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