I’ve been helping several clients to choose cover images for their books this week. These authors have either been re-branding existing a course in miracles that haven’t been selling very well… or been choosing images for brand new books that are about to be launched. As research shows that 74% of a reader’s buying decision is based on a book cover alone, it’s vital to get this right.
It pays to spend time making your Contents page sound as compelling as possible. Your very first sentence should also grab the reader by the collar, as should the rest of page 1.
To select the right cover for the front of a book, it’s essential to do a little market research, and focus on your target readership. One of the authors I’ve been working with this week has written a fantasy book aimed at young adults.
His designer produced 18 book covers, which the author and his team all really liked. However, when I showed these same covers to my sixteen-year-old son and his friends, they said things like: “these look really boring”, “I don’t know what it’s about” and “I wouldn’t read it”.
To get an idea of what did appeal to them, I instead showed them a random sample of 10 fantasy books on Amazon. I asked which they liked most and what they would read. They opted for book covers that to me seemed a bit basic, unsophisticated and even downright ‘cheesy’ – with characters in action scenes. However, the important thing here is that my opinion and aesthetics were irrelevant. Teenagers are the target readership for this book and these were the type of cover images they preferred.
‘Crossover books’ – book designed to appeal to both adults AND children – usually have two entirely different covers. The Harry Potter books do this, for example, as do the ‘Northern Lights’ books by Philip Pullman. Most books published globally will also have different covers, as every country will have different cultural references. The colour white may be associated with weddings and innocence in the UK; but in China it is associated with death and mourning.
For this reason, I always recommend that you do your market research first before you produce a book cover. Make sure you get feedback from your target audience on every aspect of your cover and what it means to them.
When choosing a cover image, it is also vital to consider what your long-term goals are for your book. A picture paints a thousand words. Every cover image therefore gives instant subliminal messages, based on a reader’s associations.