What Sells a Book?
People pick up a book for a variety of reasons: they’ve heard about it from a friend or the media, they are familiar with the author and many people believe because the cover entices them to do so.
What Catches Your Eye?
But do people buy books based on the cover design? What pulls you in to make the purchase? Cover art, author’s name, a quick read of the first chapter?
Book Cover Designs
Book cover designs are an essential part of the publishing process. Professional book cover design is essential because readers, retailers and reviewers glance at a book for only a few seconds before they make a choice.
A book cover yields most of its power at its introduction to the public eye, after that, the book’s success is riding on the quality of it’s contents (how well or poorly written it is). For most books, the cover is its handshake that greets the world. An attractive cover may also find premium display space in an independent bookstore.
Good vs. Bad Cover Designs
Consumers will purchase a book simply because the cover is beautiful. Some people prefer covers without people on them. Some say a book title taken from a poem or a quote is intriguing. The dust jacket should have a little blurb that gives a good feel for the book. It should be striking and catch the eye and induce a browser to pick up the book.
Some prefer books that weave actual text from the book. Artwork and photographs can take away from the creative effect of a book. A book cover should have something that connects with the story and makes you wonder. Superfluous propaganda about the writer can distract you from purchasing a book.
A Good Marketing Plan
The cover artists themselves become as well-known as the authors and often, the two are tied-in to the reader or collector’s mind. Both large, traditional publishing houses and self-publishers alike are dependent on the cover, initially. But after the initial ”hello” is over, a cover design cannot work alone to sell a book. Write a good book, package it well.
A Survey published March 3, 2005 by World Book Day, was that 25% of readers claimed to buy books based on friends’ recommendations; 26% bought books based on author familiarity; 6% bought a book because they saw it advertised and only 7% cited cover design.
*the cover design statistic has not changed much since a 1998 Penguin survey.
Good covers and great titles aside, the fact is that far more people are influenced by good old-fashioned personal recommendations and an author’s reputation. Low first print-runs (less investment from the publisher) have gone on to become huge commercial successes, simply by word-of-mouth.