Before we begin to seriously write our book, the cover must be given priority. This is going to be the best advertisement for your book and it must not be an afterthought.


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It has been said that “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is that COVERS SELL BOOKS. The eye-gate is very powerful indeed. While that saying may be true in many instances, the fact is that people do tend to judge a real book by its cover. Marketers know how important packaging is – and that is what your cover represents to the reader.

The Wall Street Journal estimates that the average customer spends eight seconds looking at the front cover of a book. It must say ‘PICK ME UP” or another more interesting cover will distract them.

Once the prospective buyer picks up the book, they spend approximately fifteen seconds reading the back cover. If it does not say loudly “BUY ME”, your book will be lost among the stacks of other books in the bookshop.

We have a very limited time to make an impression that could lead to a sale. Some bookshops lack shelf space, so the spine must be just as eye-catching.

Have you ever considered the fact that book agents do not cart cases of books into bookshops? They just bring the covers and buying decisions are made then and there.

I heard about a chap who intended writing a computer manual. He lacked time to complete it before an important book trade show so he concentrated on the cover and left the pages blank. The incredible thing is that he took literally hundreds of orders for his pending book!! His cover was that good.

Book covers sell books. They should be bold, distinctive and eye-catching. It must leave the consumer WANTING to buy it.

The title and sub-title should be powerful, catchy and generally not too long. Keep the longer description for the sub-title.

Here are a helpful tip to get you started: Set yourself a goal of using not more than twelve words on the front cover, including the title and sub-title.

The title should give your reader a good idea about the content of the book. Dan Poynter’s “The Self-Publishing Manual” is a good example. His subtitle is just as informative – “How to write, print and sell your own book.”

Try out various titles on your friends and see which sparks the most interest.

Imagine you are going up an escalator and someone you know shouts, “What is your book about?” You have only a few seconds to make your pitch and your answer will give you a good idea concerning the sub-title.

Remember, nothing is set in stone. You can change these at any time before printing your book. But doing this exercise upfront will focus your thinking and make a huge difference as you write the content. It’s that important.

The spine, front cover and title must collectively say: Pick Me Up – NOW!

That’s a time-consuming exercise for you so next ezine we will talk about the back cover.

Incidentally, this is a good time to start looking for a graphic artist. The cover is so important you don’t want a hatchet job that shouts loudly “AMATEUR!”, especially if you are planning to market your book to bookshops. It must be professional.

Recommended Cover Designers: