Recently, while surfing LinkedIn (it’s Facebook for working professionals), I stumbled upon this article about 7 Book Marketing Predictions in 2015.
What caught my eye and inspired today’s industry thought of the day was this little gem: “The best way to sell a self-published book is to not make it look like it was self-published.” The quote above mentions self-published books, but this is applicable to every book. I know I briefly touched on my love of a beautiful book in a previous post, but today, let’s focus on the cover.
Did your mom ever tell you not to judge a book by its cover? Yeah? Well, that was bad advice. Hear me out. The book cover is HOW TO GET YOUR BOOK NOTICED. A good book cover should tell the reader something about the book but also intrigue them to pick it up in the first place. A bad cover can send the wrong message about your book.
Secret: publishers put more money into book covers than you think. Book not selling well? They will redesign the cover. On top of that fact, the books the publishers have designated will be the bestsellers (yes, the system is slightly rigged) get more money for better covers.
So, you ask, can we see some examples?
Below are two books: one cover I hate and one I like.
I can see you scratching you head wondering which one I liked. The first one, The Beautiful Cursed, is the one I don’t like. It is a historical/fantasy book with gargoyles. When I first got the book, I was like, “Is this self published?” For a major publisher, I was thought it looked cheap. SHE IS FAINTING ON THE COVER. The second, Mothership, is a truly hilarious book. Think Juno meets Alien.
But here’s the deal: Motherhsip didn’t sell well. Librarians said the colors and illustrated cover attracted younger readers. So it got a redesign. The Beautiful Cursed must have done moderately well, because the second book has a cover in a similar design. Both of these covers are, in my opinion, bad covers. One I just don’t like, and one that underserved the book.
But what about GOOD covers?
There are many examples of good covers (most covers are fine, it is just the great and terrible ones you remember). Red Queen is a great cover. It recently published, but when you look at the cover (and I am talking look at it, i.e. feel it as well) you can tell the publisher wants this to do well. The cover tells you a bit about the story: princess, blood, meant to do well in the marketplace. The Mara Dyer books are the same. The cover compels you to pick it up.
This has been an especially long post, so I am going to wrap this up.
A book cover is a selling tool. You are meant to judge the book by it. Sometimes the book is better than you expect. But sometimes the cover shows it’s not. Go forth and judge away!