Why Your Book Cover is Like a Highway Billboard

Book Cover Highway billboard11

Your book cover is like a highway billboard. How’s that? It’s simple. Just as people are driving past a billboard at 70 MPH, shoppers in a book store are walking by your book sitting on a table at the same relevant speed. Like a billboard, if you first don’t catch their attention you’ll never deliver the message. book-marketing-expert.com

That’s one reason billboards use images to get the attention and then the words to make the sale.

What are common images? Attractive women, followed by muscular and attractive men. They don’t call romance books bodice rippers for nothing and the photos or illustrations on books in that genre leave no doubt in your mind about what’s inside. But that can’t be said about most other books. That’s why that image is important real estate that must be used to convey to the potential buyer just what’s in that book.

What is the correct image? One that does not need any explanation. If your image needs an introduction… then it’s not the right choice. How can you find out? Just show it to people. Ask them what they think the book is about by looking at the cover image. Ideally the image does the talking by itself.

While we often hear “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” everybody – book buyers, reviewers, media and consumers alike – most certainly do judge a book by its cover.

Choose your title carefully. The best highway billboards are 5-7 words in total because motorists are flying by and cannot comprehend too much information. The human mind cannot comprehend words at a glance so why fight it? Putting too many words in the title is the equivalent of trying to take a drink out of a fire hose! If you want to have a fighting chance give them a short sweet title and subtitle. Be brief.

Blurbs. Blurbs are those short two to three sentences of compliment that books have on their back covers. The best blurbs are from well known experts in the field, famous people, authors who have read the book and have provided positive comments. There’s only room for a few so you have to edit out repetitive blurbs and keep the best ones for the cover. If you are in love with all your blurbs, than print them in full on the last inside pages of the book.

One reason the task becomes so daunting and painful is that authors too often wait until the end of the process, instead of nearer the beginning, to think through book cover design.

As a book publicist and book marketer I cannot caution authors enough – do not underestimate the importance of a book cover’s design. Not only do potential book buyers judge a book by its cover but so do members of the media. Many reporters receive dozens of books every day! Do you really think they read the book flap and your pitch? Ha!

Here are some important items to consider when making decisions on book cover design:
1. Use a subhead to create more description. If you have a 10-word title, you have not properly named the book in the first place.

2. Check with Google on the words that are most searched on your topic. To do this, type in the word that best describes your book in the search box and then see what the next most important or popular words are in that list. That ranking is very relevant marketing- wise so try to use those words in your title or subtitle.

3. Visit book stores and look at the covers of all types of books. What catches your eye? Look at the book face and look at the spines. Which ones are readable and why?

4. Will it play on Amazon? Go to Amazon.com, BN.com, KOBO and goodreads and search on competitive books in your space. Notice the book covers that catch your eye and the ones that do not. If your cover does not show up well in an Amazon thumbnail then you are going to lose sales.

5. Contrast. Don’t let your graphic designer get started without keeping contrast in mind. The reason black ink works so well on white paper is because it produces the best contrast possible. Yellow ink on green paper in a small font simply does not work.

6. How does your book look in black and white? Not every publication will be printing it in color.

7. Font size. Many designers are young with great eyesight. But your buyer may not be able to read the tiny font some designers insist upon using. Be practical.

8. The spine. Can you read it from five feet away? If not, neither can browsers in a book store.Billboard

9. Blurbs. Keep them relevant and short. Consider including a mention on the cover of a foreword written by a famous person or author. “Foreword by J.K. Rowling” or “Foreword by Oprah Winfrey” or “Foreword by Best Selling Author Tom Clancy.”

10. Do not overlook creating content on the back inside flaps because consumers pick up a book after looking at the spine, front cover and back and then open the book to find the price or more information.

11. Print your cover out on a laser printer. Don’t just review your cover on a computer screen which will make it look considerably better. Print it out actual size and make a determination using that printed version.

12. Pictures are worth 1000 words. Use photos and illustrations to describe what would take too long to explain.

13. When choosing a book design ask yourself how the cover will look on your website home page. Branding is important so you’ll want to use the same design elements on your website that you do on your book cover

14. Show your cover designs to as many people in your target group of potential readers. Get their reactions and opinions. It costs you nothing and you’ll likely find out something you did not realize before.

15. Mary Heim, Direct Sales Manager at Sheridan Books says that before you start to design your cover contact your printer for a cover layout and cover stock and coating samples. When you have your cover complete have the printer do a test on the files to make sure they work for the printer. Ask for samples of the printer’s work. http://www.sheridanbooks.com

Bottom line: Get involved early in the entire book publishing design process and get at least three creative concepts for the front cover, back cover, and spine. Don’t let it be the ‘last thing’ you do.

And finally, the most important rule in book publishing and marketing – Know Your Reader! All books have a target reader and in all genres there are varying degrees of readers. Targeting the reader who is most likely to purchase your book is critical. Authors who know the demographics of their readers are equipped to assemble the fonts and graphics best able to grab the reader’s eye and instantly convey the message that “this book is for you.”

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com  or contact Lorenz at [email protected] or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @abookpublicist Check his blog at: http://www.The-Book-Publicist.com