Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cover Design: Curb Appeal for Readers

First impressions make a difference when it comes to selling anything in today's marketplace. In most areas, supply still outweighs demand. Whether you are selling a home or the next Great American Novel, you must create interest at the first glance.
While the focus in home sales is often on what can be improved on the interior, many sellers neglect the outside of the property. However, most buyers form an opinion on whether they like a home before they step in the front door.  The same is true for book sales. The work you do in the kitchen or the updating the fixtures in the bathroom of your home is a lot like editing and fine-tuning the interior of your book. It may be great, but by that time it may be too late.  If you want to maximize your property's value, you need to focus on curb appeal. If you want to maximize your book's appeal to readers, you need to focus on the cover design.

Improving the exterior of your book may not be as exciting as trying to figure out what to do with the plot or how to motivate a character, but in many ways it is more important. At first glance, you want your book to have a wow factor.  At a minimum, it shouldn't turn off a large majority of readers. Your book cover is your three-second introduction to the reading public.  When readers are browsing the bookstore shelf or the internet, your book cover needs to grab their attention, but also make a promise about what readers will find on the pages inside.

One of the most important things to consider in good cover design, is your title. Place yourself in the reader's shoes when making your final decision for your book's title. The title should be legible at a glance, so you should avoid small or faint text as well as busy backgrounds. Make sure your title conveys your message clearly and simply. Be straightforward.  Sometimes creativity can interfere with clarity.

Choose a strong image that helps people remember your book and integrates with your title.  A single image usually has a stronger image than multiple images. The image should not overwhelm the title, so beware of overpowering your words with pictures.

Just as many home buyers will associate the condition of the exterior and landscape with the condition of the interior, the same is true for readers.  In fact, curb appeal is so important that if a potential buyer thinks that the exterior is unattractive, they won't even look at the inside.

You may have spent months and maybe even years working on your manuscript.  Make sure you take the time to give your cover the attention it deserves.  After all, it is the first impression most readers will have of your book.

Watch for the cover release for my new book, The Steel Canyon Legacy, in June.