Today’s guest blogger is book and software publishing company owner Susan Daffron (aka The Book Consultant). Susan spends most of her time writing, laying out books in InDesign, or taking her dogs out for romps in the forest. She also teaches people how to write and publish profitable client-attracting books and puts on the annual Self-Publishers Online Conference . The fourth event is May 8-10, 2012. Get a 10% discount on the registration fee by using the code BookBuzz12.
Create a book cover that sells online
By Susan Daffron
When it comes to marketing your book, much has been written about the importance of book cover design. Great covers sell books. An ugly or unreadable book cover design is a huge hurdle that even a fantastic book often can’t overcome. (If no one is willing to pick up the book, they’ll never find out the goodness that might lurk within!)
Good book covers have three things in common. They:
- Capture attention.
- Use high quality images and thoughtful typography.
- Incorporate important design principles such as balance, readability, and judicious use of color.
Today, because so many books are sold online, this list isn’t enough anymore. You have to take other design considerations into account. Many book covers that would have performed well in a bookstore setting simply don’t work online.
These days, Amazon isn’t just the world’s biggest bookstore, it’s also quite possibly your biggest sales avenue. So you need to think about how your book cover will look on Amazon.com and other online sites
Today’s teeny tiny covers
You can see cover design issues in real time by doing a quick search on Amazon.com. For example, if you do a search for a classic book like Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, you see a lot of editions. When I did a search today, the first one on the list from SoHo Books has cover text that is almost unreadable. Conversely, the Signet Classic version has a simpler cover with higher contrast, so you can see the title.
Sure, students will search for Wuthering Heights because they have to read it in school. They may not even really look at the cover at all. Bronte has name recognition going for her. You probably don’t.
If you’re a nonfiction book author and someone does a search on the subject of your book, what do they see when your book comes up in the list of books on Amazon? Will someone pick your book out of the lineup? Unfortunately, countless beautifully designed covers simply don’t work at small sizes.
Covers today must have:
- Large and extremely readable titles
- Good contrast
- Striking images
(Of course, don’t forget, they still have to look nice too!)
Does it pass the squint test?
Covers need to pass what I call the “squint test.” When you have a designer create your cover, reduce the image down to 100 pixels wide. If you can’t squint and see the title, the author, or have some idea what the imagery represents, tell your designer to try again.
If you publish an e-book version of your book, you also have to think about the black and white thumbnail that appears on Kindle. These things weren’t issues until fairly recently and a lot of designers still aren’t taking them into account. How does your cover look as a 72-dpi grayscale thumbnail that’s only 100 pixels wide?
Marketing books is a lot of work. Make sure your book cover is going to help and not hinder your online marketing efforts.
What has been your biggest challenge with your book cover? Did you have trouble finding a designer, or were you dissatisfied with the thumbnail version? Share your experiences here — Susan will pop back to comment!
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