Judging a book by its cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Yeah, people don’t follow that, especially on the internet. The course on udemy.com by Tom Corson-Knowles makes some very good points. When people scroll through the loads of books available, it’s the cover that grabs a potential buyer’s attention. Shopping online differs greatly from the browsing experience of a brick and mortar book store. There’s no helpful staff to suggest a book. Sure, Amazon’s algorithms do their best, but they aren’t comprehensive or always right.

If you publish traditionally, while most of this you won’t have to worry about, keep the design aspects in mind when giving the go ahead on the cover art drawn up by the in-house artist.

Here are some interesting and helpful tidbits:

  • Hire someone to make a professional looking cover.

Unless you are skilled at graphic art, do not use that picture you took of your dog or your kid’s stick art and paste your title above it. The course instructor suggested fiverr.com. I had no idea this site existed and it looks like a great resource. You can preview an artists’ work, read reviews, and it’s far cheaper than the several hundred dollars one might pay otherwise to graphic artist.

  • It’s all about the title.

Pretend you are selling your book to a world full of Great-Aunt Berthas whose eyesight is rather iffy. The first look at your book most people will see is a tiny little thumbnail. If your cover looks like an impressionist painting when reduced to a thumbnail, redesign the cover.

  • Aim for a neat, professional, uncluttered cover.

This goes back to hiring someone who knows what they are doing, but even the best sometimes come up with duds. What looks okay in print doesn’t always show up well on a screen. Keep in mind also that some readers (like me) have a basic e-reader device without color. The breathtaking work of art should be between the pages; not on the cover.







2 responses to “Judging a book by its cover

  1. I don’t know. If something’s a thumbnail, are we really going to pay that much attention to the cover? I don’t – I just go to the blurb. But that might be just me.

    • southerndreamer

      While true, are you really going to read the blurbs on an hundred or even twenty books? Usually something on the cover catches our eye, be it title or image, then we read the blurb. The title may not sell the book, but I think it goes a long way to getting people to at least look at it.
      I have to admit, even when browsing books at small press publishers’ tables at cons, bad artwork will make me hesitant to buy anything. If the art is bad, isn’t it likely they cut corners on editing? Usually I try to skim, and give people the benefit of the doubt, but I’m a fellow writer, not the average consumer. I can spot poor quality writing within a minute. The cover and contents don’t always correlate, but I think it definitely biases us.

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