January 7 Book Marketing Tip: Package your book well!
The other day, we talked about the importance of the cover in your branding efforts, so today let’s focus on the elements of your cover.
Joel Bauer, image consultant to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Barbara Walters, has a signature tagline: Wrap your package! Bauer claims we have just 4 seconds before someone forms a first impression about us, right or wrong — so how we choose to clothe ourselves matters.
Love the concept or hate it, but packaging sells products, too. Have you ever noticed how much money certain cosmetics, liquor, and electronics companies spend on their packaging? Why? Those brands know an important marketing secret: packaging plays a significant role in people’s buying decisions. First, packaging helps the buyer identify the item they’re looking at. An alarm clock is more than likely in a box with a photo of an alarm clock on it. Secondly, the quality of the packaging can create the impression that the thing inside is better than the one right next to it with the less attractive wrapper.
Given that you probably cannot discern the quality and/or performance of a product just by looking at it, companies rely on packaging to sway your purchasing decisions, just like people are more likely to form a positive opinion of you if you’ve taken some time with your clothing ensemble.
We’ve all heard the old axiom, You can’t judge a book by its cover — but the cover is the thing that will attract people’s attention!
Perhaps one of the most important things to understand when it comes to your book cover — the packaging for your book — is that a good cover will attract your target audience.
As Chris McMullen says in her excellent blog post:
Effective packaging does three things:
- Grabs attention. (In a positive way.)
- Attracts the specific target audience. (It should also look appealing and professional.)
- From a distance, it sends a short message (not necessarily in words) about what to expect from the product. (There may be more details in print upon closer inspection, but it’s the distant message that determines whether or not the consumer will ever inspect the packaging closely.)
This is why you need a well-designed (professional) cover. You can’t really fault people for assuming that if you didn’t bother to try to impress them with your cover, you probably didn’t do such a great job with the words either.
There are three essential ingredients to a successful cover: (1) a good title, (2) great design, and (3) a blurb with a hook. Endorsements are also very helpful.
A few things to remember about cover endorsements:
- Shoot for the moon — think of the biggest name in your field and approach that person.
- Shrug it off if they say no. At least you asked — and now they know about your book.
- Some might ask you to pay for their endorsement. This is a personal decision you’ll have to make if/when the situation arises.
- Start early. Even the most well-intentioned people may say yes, but it can take time to get the information from them!
And, of course, make sure your title, cover design, and blurb are consistent. As McMullen puts it:
The cover, blurb, and [Amazon] Look Inside need to send a unified message. They must make it instantly (shoppers might look at your thumbnail for two seconds to decide whether or not to check the book out) clear what type of book it is. Precisely what type (e.g. contemporary romance, not teen romance; or does the cover look a little naughty, when the romance is light and clean?).
Things you’ll want to include on your cover:
FRONT: Title, subtitle, your full name, endorsement
SPINE: Title, your last name, publisher’s marque (logo for your publishing company)
BACK: Genre, price, website, well-written blurb, ISBN/bar code, QR code with a link to your trailer or website, endorsements/quotes from reviews, author photo, author bio (the last two are optional, particularly if you include an About the Author page at the end of your book)
Some final thoughts on your cover design:
- It’s important.
- Spend some time studying the covers of best-selling books in your genre to see what’s working. What do they have in common?
- Budget for your cover. If you’re not a gifted graphic designer, plan to hire someone.
- Nothing is a bigger waste of your resources as an author than a cover that doesn’t do your writing justice.
Happy cover designing!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website to peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements: Organizing the Parts of Your Book” TODAY!