Book Cover Basics

Key Points for Sales

If you picked up a "how to write" book from even ten years ago, the advice they offer on covers is now wildly incorrect. That's how drastically the world of covers has changed even in the past decade. It's critical for modern authors to understand what sells well in our current era of smart phone browsing.

Even if you personally adore paperback books, a key thing to understand is that the vast majority of readers are browsing for books on a tablet, Kindle, or smartphone. When those readers see search results, the covers are the size of a postage stamp. If the front cover of a book doesn't grab their attention at that small size, they'll never click to learn more. They'll never even read your blurb. You need that cover to be powerful at first glance so they are drawn into finding out the details of your offer.

Book Cover Basics Look at this cover, for example, which does quite well in click-conversions. Even at a tiny size, the blue color and clear cat image draw the eye. The title and author name are large and readable. The title and subtitle - which the browsing person will see as text alongside the image - make it clear what the book is about. That combination has proven to be enough to convince the target audience to click and learn more.

It's tempting to design a complex work of art intended to be appreciated at paperback size. And that's nice if you have a contract with a giant publisher who can guarantee that your book will be presented cover-forward on the end-caps of bookstores. But even most books in bookstores are shown spine-out and that cover is never seen unless someone is interested in the spine title and draws it out to learn more. For most authors, 99% of sales are coming from people on the web seeing a small cover version and clicking to learn more.

Keep in mind it's not like your book is the only one the reader is seeing. They are typically scrolling down a page of results and your book cover is just one in the mix. Unless your book cover stands out from the rest and grabs their attention of "This is a book that perfectly matches your interests!" they're going to keep scrolling because they have 80 billion other options right there waiting for them.

So keep this key thing in mind as you design your cover, do your research, and optimize your presentation. Your cover must, at a small size, absolutely grab your target audience. It must make their eyes light up, and make them think, "Oh, wow, that looks interesting!"

Because if your cover is a mush, or unclear, the reader is just going to keep scrolling.

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