Do you love your book cover? Or does it hate you?
Sometimes we think our cover's da chit, but we never really know what a potential reader is thinking. I usually create anywhere from 8 to 10 cover samples and throw them in front of my friends here at The Writing Bomb whenever I'm preparing to launch a new book, and I always get plenty of feedback. In fact, I usually get between 45 and 75 comments whenever I ask about my new cover designs.
The input is great and the "show and tell" is a lesson in marketing. There is no better way for a newer author to drum up interest for a new book than to ask his followers what they think about his cover. And these events have taught me plenty. I've learned more of what works and what doesn't work from your input than anything. Seriously. You guys are great.
I've also learned a few things about cover design by watching books that aren't selling. And this goes for one of my "apprentices", Robbi Bryant. She was getting great reviews and her writing is crisp and well edited. But she wasn't selling. She had a pretty catchy cover. It popped. Robbi loved it. Unfortunately, the first thing I look at when a book isn't selling is the cover.
Why the cover?
The cover is the first thing a customer sees. If they aren't getting past the cover, they aren't evaluating the price, or reading the description, or reviews, or the sample chapters. It all starts with the cover.
Do I check the other elements? Yes, I do. Before I go and rip an author's dream cover to shreds, I take a detailed look at their price point. Are they asking too much? Does their price match the size of their audience? And what about the product description? Are there any typos? Is the book getting decent reviews? These details matter, too. But when everything is investigated, I often come back to the cover.
In Robbie's case, her cover looked nice enough, except she was inadvertently marketing to the wrong genre. Her cover, in my opinion, said, "fantasy", when her book is actually a suspense about a very sad woman. Changing her cover was a big pill to swallow, but Robbie couldn't be happier. After tweaking a few things on her book page, creating a new cover, and joining Amazon Select, Robbie went from the 410,000 ranking to #250'sh and is still in the 1,000's, selling at a $2.99 price!
<~~~From this…. to this ~~~>
The lesson I learned with her design is how critical it is to create a cover that truly speaks for the story, matching the cover image with the product description. If the two don't match, you may be losing sales and never know why. Of course pinpointing the root cause of slow book sales is like trying to spear a minnow. It can be done, you just need a really small spear!
The good thing about indie publishing is, you can fix what is broken, like a cover, price, etc. If you apply what you learn, if you study your book sales, you can actually receive dividends for paying attention.
So that's just what I did… I payed attention.
With all the fanfare I stirred up when presenting the book cover for Twisted Vengeance, I still changed the cover 3 times… after you all voted. Why? Because the cover was not communicating my message. In all my initial cover designs, I failed to feature Rick Burns, my protagonist. Instead, I featured the scary looking kid, probably scaring away most of my readers. Eh, I could be wrong, but I'm opting for a change. Twisted Vengeance is very much about Rick Burns and his search for freedom from his past and the demons that surround him. Here's what I've done.
<~~~I've gone from this... to this ~~~>
My new cover speaks more for Twisted Vengeance by keeping the boy and the horror in the background, and placing Detective Burns in the foreground, watched by the creepy kid. The truth of the story is, there are scary moments, horrific moments, but those do not define the book. The old cover literally screamed horror and Twisted Vengeance is a supernatural thriller in its truest definition. The new cover, even the blue, addresses the supernatural without being obnoxious.
So many lessons to learn… so little time. If you want to shave some months off of your "Author Learning Curve", get a copy of The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. I teach how to create an effective ebook cover among many other critical issues like effective marketing and pricing strategies.
Jeff Bennington is the author of Twisted Vengeance, Reunion, and Creepy
The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe is only $3.99 on Amazon for a limited time for my readers!