Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another approach to covers for books sold online

(I generally try to avoid arguing over esthetics, and I admit to unavoidable personal bias in this case, but I really think that my book above on the left looks nicer than the book on the right.)

Some self-published authors, including some who have advice for other self-publishing authors, have the crappiest-looking, most uninspiring book covers.

They assume that their books will never be on the shelves at bookstores where they have to compete with better-looking books.

They assume that people will judge their interior text without considering the exterior package.

They assume that since Amazon and other online booksellers will only show a tiny view of their cover, all they need is a readable title.

Not every assumption is valid. Even an expert's assumption can be flawed.

I think that a self-publishing author should make her or his book as attractive as possible. It doesn't take much effort or money to produce a good-looking book. I typically pay $250 for my cover designs, and have paid from zero to $60 for cover photographs. One of my favorites cost just four bucks.

I'm pleased with the way my books look, and I have to think that purchasers will be happier with -- and perceive greater value in -- a book that looks nice. Maybe they'll even be more likely to show it and recommend it to others.

Back covers are important, too. You may think that if a book is sold online only, that no purchaser will see the back until after the book is delivered. Actually you can show the back cover on so it can be a useful selling tool for you, a "back door" into your book. After purchase, a professional-looking back cover reassures purchasers that they have bought a quality product, and if a book owner shows your book to someone else, two good covers may help you sell more books.

In addition, self-publishers have a special burden to produce quality products to neutralize prejudice that could smear all self-publishers as second-class publishers.

I was on a plane on Monday morning, in the left-side window seat. I was reading one of my books to mark it for corrections. I heard the woman to my right laughing. She was reading my back cover. She asked to look at my book, laughed some more, and said she would order a copy and recommend it to others. (I always carry business cards that show the front cover on one side and some blurbs and ordering info on the back.)

Your book cover is a salesman. Make sure you have a good one.

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