Every author has a story about how a book cover helped him to sell more books. Or he’s heard a story about an author who sold a book a week, changed the cover, then sold a hundred copies a week…
Can a book cover help you to sell more books?
Yes, and no. Your book cover has one primary job: to gain readers’ attention. After that, your blurb (description) and your Look Inside pages need to do the heavy lifting.
A tip: a book cover is just that — a cover. You can change your cover at will. It’s what’s inside the book that counts. When a student obsesses about his cover because he can’t afford $2,000 for the top designer he feels his book deserves, I suggest that he sells what’s selling.
As the saying goes about putting lipstick on a pig… You never know what will sell. The market always decides. Maybe your amazing new book will be a wretched pig when it comes to sales. 🙂
Some books, no matter how much you love them, and your beta readers gush, will only generate a trickle of sales. Something doesn’t resonate with readers. Then a book you dislike, which you struggled to finish, will sell immediately, and won’t stop selling. Save your hard-earned cash until you get a book like this, which readers love. Spending $2,000 on a better cover for a hot-seller makes sense.
Let’s look at how you can use book cover images to sell more books.
1. Attract attention (in a good way) with a book cover image
Attracting attention starts with the basics:
- A book cover must reflect its genre. If illustrated covers are the norm in your fiction genre, or nonfiction category, get an illustrated cover, rather than a photo.
- Keep your cover simple. Your cover isn’t meant to tell the story of your book. It’s meant to tease: arouse interest, and emotion. Check out the covers on bestsellers. These books, from traditional publishers which can afford the best designers, are simple.
- Your book cover will be viewed not only on a computer, but also on a phone. Aim for a cover which is recognizable on small screens.
- Avoid being too literal when you’re looking for an image to use in a design. A good tip from Canva’s article on book cover design:
A great way to avoid being too literal and expositional with your design is to experiment with using symbols to represent a larger idea or concept.
When it comes to concepts, the book cover design of 50 Shades of Grey was clever. A tie, and the book’s about bondage (giggle.)
2. Buy the primary image your designer used for your cover — it’s an essential marketing tool
Your designer will buy the rights to an image to use on your design. Do make sure that he’s sourced a royalty-free image, or images, if he used more than one. Similarly, if you’re using a premade cover, do make sure that your designer’s bought the rights to use the image, or images.
Whenever students ask about images they want to use on a cover, I suggest that they realize that everything that they find online is copyrighted.
EVERYTHING (and yes, I’m shouting.) So unless they have the rights to use the image commercially, it’s best to let that image go.
If you take this attitude, you can’t go wrong. Life’s too short to deal with hassles and takedown notices.
Once you’ve settled on a cover, ask your designer where he sourced the image, and then go and buy your own rights to use the image. You’ll want to create marketing images based on your book cover, so it’s useful to have the image for:
- Blog posts and social media images in general;
- Facebook advertising;
- Free printables like bookmarks for readers;
- If you buy an extended license for your image (DO be sure to read the legalese) you can usually also use the image on T shirts, cups, and other items.
3. Add a teaser to your book cover: a subtitle, a callout, or a line from a review
We said that your cover’s goal is to get readers to read the blurb, and the excerpt. A little text on your cover can help with that — a subtitle, or other tease.
4. Creating a paperback? Keep it simple, and add your bio
Now that Amazon’s made creating a paperback so easy with its option to create a paperback in KDP, you’ve got not just one, but two book covers… The front and back covers of your paperback.
Some designers will wrap the cover image around the front and back covers, and that can look amazing. However, do consider that the back cover is not merely a spot to put your your blurb, it’s also an opportunity to do some subtle advertising.
Keep it simple, but consider adding a short bio. Unlike the ebook reader, your paperback reader can’t click any links in your book. So it makes sense to add your URL to your bio on the back of your book, along with enticements like:
- “Visit (URL) for your 7 day diet” (nonfiction);
- “For a list of other books in this series, visit (URL);
- And so on… Give readers the URL, and a reason to type the URL into their phone.
Can you create your own book cover?
Of course you can.
Options, free and commercial, include:
- Amazon’s free Cover Creator;
- Canva.com, mainly free and low-cost — Canva has some amazing book cover templates;
- A free online image editor (do a search for these, these apps tend to appear, then vanish as quickly as they appeared);
- An image editor on your computer, such as the totally brilliant Photoshop, if you’re prepared to push the boat out. You can even use MS Word to create a book cover.
Have fun. 🙂
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