My own experience is that the look of a book is second only to the contents of a book in importance. It’s that other artistic expression that will sell it, explain it, express it, and hold it in the readers’ imaginations. Tonight, I’ll be appearing on a panel discussion titled, “The Look of the Book” at the Writers League of Texas. I’m looking forward to hearing what my fellow panelists have to say. Here’s why I think the design and cover art of a book is so important.
1) The cover is the number one marketing tool.
I happen to be a published author as well as a book designer. I’ve been through the marketing paces, so to speak. For my first published book, The Legend of Juan Miguel, which was an Amazon.com bestseller in 2014, I was an integral part of the marketing planning. I learned a great deal from the woman who actually did the marketing. One of the first things she asked me when we began was, “Do you have a good cover? A good cover will make or break a book.”
Many authors these days concentrate on ebook sales because, frankly, for many of us, that’s where the money is. And ebooks are sold online, mostly through book marketing sites. The first thing browsers of those sites see is the book covers. Sometimes that’s all they see. Many of them judge the books solely on the covers. Or the covers and the first few lines of the sales blur. If the book cover doesn’t catch their attention, the book has no second chance.
2) The cover image kick starts the reader’s imagination.
Writers—especially fiction writers, but nonfiction writers too—have to catch the reader’s imagination within the first few pages. The story should begin to live in the reader’s mind very early in the process or the reader will close the book and never open it again. The characters and how they look and sound need to come alive in their heads and the book cover often kick starts this process. The reader uses the image on the cover to set the scene in his/her own mind and begin to visualize-fantasize the story. Even a nonfiction book needs to present a good visual for the reader. Thus, all of the photos, charts, and lists often contained in a nonfiction book.
Without this visual advantage, your readers are swimming in uncharted territory. They’re relying solely on your word descriptions and we all know how tricky description can be. Too much or too little loses the reader. A good descriptive cover image, along with a compatible back cover and inside design, are the author’s main visual aids.
3) A professionally done design makes your book look professional.
Nothing says “amateur” like a homemade, not-very-good book cover. It’s like broadcasting to the world that you’re just “dabbling” and are not a serious author who’s willing to put time and money into the book’s presentation. Don’t brand your book as a throw-away, unprofessional, amateurish effort by throwing together your own book cover. Your book and you as an author will be forever branded that way.
Visit my book design website, www.idbks.com. My published novels, The Legend of Juan Miguel and The Passion of Juan Miguel, are available on Amazon.com.