- The Most Specific Generic Self-Publishing Advice I’ll Ever Give You
- Episode 1: Write A Good Book
- Episode 2: Set Yourself Up for Success
- Episode 3: Build A Platform
- Episode 4: Use Social Meda
- Episode 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Promote
- Episode 6: Design Matters
- Episode 7: Use “Drip” Marketing
- Episode 8: Offline Marketing
- Episode 9: Online Marketing
If you’ve been reading through this series, or even just the blog, you know how I feel about cover design:
We judge books by their covers.
It’s a simple truth. How else can we quickly wade through thousands or tens of thousands of books in an online store’s genre, and how else can we separate the professionally-written ones from the hacks?
It may not be fair, but it’s the truth.
We might not judge an individual book or product by its aesthetic appearance, but given a huge catalog to browse, that’s exactly what our subconscious mind forces us to do.
It’s not just with books, either:
- When was the last time you went out to find a new restaurant, got to the location, and turned around because of its “shady” appearance?
- When was the last time you opted for one home-improvement service firm (plumbing, roofing, etc.) over another, simply because of their vehicle imprint, phone book ad, or professional-looking website?
- When was the last time you judged a product by its packaging (think Apple)?
Even as you read those points, there’s probably a certain part of you that’s pushing back against them. “No way,” you say, “I don’t judge products/services/books to that extent!” Or the more common rebuttal, “No way! That sort of advertising doesn’t work on me!”
There are plenty of marketing experts and scientific studies that would argue otherwise.
We judge. That’s how it works.
We might not like it, or actively try not to, but we all judge. It’s part of human nature, and as a marketer (yes, author — that’s you!) you need to realize how to tap into this psychological truth.
Really, it comes down to two options:
- Ignore your product’s design, because you don’t think it matters.
- Care about your product’s design, because it doesn’t matter if it matters.
Quick test: what’s your number one goal as a published author who wants to build a career?
Answer: to get as many people as possible to pick up/buy/borrow your book.
If you have a book out, it’s in your best interest to take away any and all distractions and obstacles in between a customer and a purchase. There are many ways to do this:
- Persuade them to buy with a great product description
- Provide third-party credibility builders with reviews and/or testimonials
- Acquire great product placement through ads and promotions
- Remove the pricing obstacle by pricing strategically and competitively
- Capture their attention by employing great design
Each of these are fundamental aspects to publishing (and selling) a book.
You can certainly work on each of these elements during the writing process of the book, but for the most part each of these are post-manuscript duties.
However, none of these elements except for the last has the clout to pull people in and get them to open the book (or read a preview). A great cover can make or break a sale.
We judge book by their interiors.
Likewise, your book’s interior design is important too. If you have a font that’s difficult to read, too small or large, or you’ve mixed up the placement of your page numbers and title/author spot on each page, you can turn readers off to your future work.
Most of the time these are just simple oversights, but they’re easy to miss when you’re so focused on getting the words to flow right and the typos removed. It pays to have a professional check out the interior file, just to be sure, or at least go through some great tutorials and guides on interior layout and design.
Most of the time people won’t ask for a refund if your interior files are out of whack, but don’t even give them the option — make sure your interior files look great and are as legible as possible. On that note: don’t use Times New Roman — it was created for newspaper layouts, not books! Try Garamond or a look-alike if you want that style.
Design is subjective
What looks great to you might look horrendous to someone else. In fact, it’s almost a science that for every certain amount of people who love some design, a certain amount of other people will downright hate it.
There’s nothing you can do about that, but you still can’t ignore design. Do your best to design something that at least looks professional (meaning something that looks like a professional’s work — not yours, not your kid sister’s, not your cousin’s — unless one of the above is, in fact, a professional!). People should be allowed to subjectively hate it, but not objectively dismiss it as “unprofessional.”
Do you see the difference? It’s slight, and it can be a fine line — the best advice to adhere to though is to not let yourself be the only person who sees it. Ask around, and seek out those naysayers — you want them to have an opinion, but you want their distaste to based on art, not on a lack of professionalism.
What do you think? Is design as important to you as it is to me? Leave a comment below!