By John Prince
If you were going for a job interview, you’d no doubt want to look good and job appropriate. You’ve probably sent in your resume and it was good enough to get you an interview. You want the potential employer to “buy” you—hire you for the job.
It’s no different with your book. You want to present an appearance that will cause the potential buyer/reader to buy your book.
Some things to consider:
A great outside front cover that causes the prospect to pick up your book
At the job interview you wear appropriate, attractive clothing that says “Pick Me!” The job of the book outside front cover is to cause the prospect to pick up the book in a bookstore, or click on it in an online page. The cover of your book should say “Pick Me!” instead of all of the other choices available.
Covers that scream “Pick Me!” usually do not come from inexpensive, online sources.
They usually have two resources: images that the author submits which the online source turns into a collage with some sort of background. Or (leaving nothing to waste) recycled images that have been rejected by other authors. Either way what you get is cheap, but often not effective.
Their job is to get something together in a minimum amount of time that the author will buy. It doesn’t matter what country the artist lives in, you don’t get much (and they can’t buy much) for $35.
Choose a cover artist that has experience in creating art that “hooks” in the prospect. The cover should have some relationship to the content and message of your work.
Another point: You (the author) are usually not the audience. Not are your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Show them the potential cover and they’ll love it (they don’t want to hurt your feelings) or hate it (they don’t know your book or what you are trying to say).
Bottom line: Hire an experienced cover artist, give them complete directions, have them read your book, ask for a dozen different concepts, choose one or two, and have the artist create ten or a dozen new concepts using different colors and placement of the elements.
Listen to their comments on each concept and together choose the one that will best “sell” the book.
Another hint: Ensure that the cover also “sells” the ebook. It’s possible that the ebook cover needs to be simplified and element sizes changed to work best.
An outside back cover with visual design and a “Blurb” that hooks the prospect on the content.
After the prospect picks up the book (or clicks online) the second step is for them to turn the book over and read the outside back cover—The critical Blurb that sets the stage for the content and informs the prospect that they will enjoy this book.
The Blurb for a fiction book does not tell the story. (Why buy the book if you already know the story?) It sets up the scenario where the main character(s) get into so much trouble that it seems impossible they will ever live. (Of course, they’re going to live, but what will they have to do to achieve that goal?) That’s what the reader wants to know and why they will buy the book.
Sometimes the book story is well known. Like Henry VIII. In this case the Blurb will promise a different approach or perspective, new information and detail, or a benefit that can’t be found in any other book on the subject.
Hint: Ensure that the Blurb is very readable and stands out in the design.
In addition to the “Blurb,” the outside back cover will include the ISBN number and barcode with the cover price. It might include the author’s photo and other elements. Work with your cover designer to ensure that both the front and back covers work together to “sell” the book both from a visual and content perspective.
With an ebook, the author may not have that back cover area to “sell” and may have to include the Blurb in the book description.
A page interior that is well designed and easy to read.
The third step that you want the prospect to take is to open the book and read a few pages.
First, well assume that the content is well written and edited. If not, most of the cover work will have been wasted.
In a bookstore the prospect opens the book randomly and scans a page or two; online the prospect clicks the “Look Inside.” Opening a physical book is at the discretion of the prospect. In the “Look Inside” situation, the number, order, and content of the pages is pre-set.
Get into the book content ASAP. Move everything possible to the back of the book so that the “Look Insider” can preview as much of the content as possible.
Some authors have a love affair with sans serif type (Helvetica, Univers, etc.) for their book pages.
Truck loads of research and studies show that serif type (Times, Garamond, Goudy, etc.), properly lined spaced and kerned (spacing between the letters) is much easier to read on the printed page than sans serif. Conversely, it has been shown that sans serif type is easier to read on a screen or monitor. (Both subjects are worthy of many long articles.)
Rule: For best readability for your printed book pages, use serif type properly spaced.
Writing a book can be a long, arduous, and frustrating process. Do yourself a big favor: Ensure that all of your hard work is packaged to sell.
Related Article: Does your book see the standards of a professionally published book?