It has been said that you either win or lose a sale in under 3 seconds of exposure. I firmly believe that. I myself became a romance book junkie (me being a girl who absolutely hated to read) just because the cover begged me to pick it up. I did, and whamo, I’ve been reading and writing ever since.
Books are regularly tested in this way. If the cover doesn’t grab the reader in those first few seconds, you aren’t going to get that sale. Oh sure, your steadfast fans will buy your book, your mother, your sister and friends, but what about expanding your base? More sales equals more royalties, which in turn means you get to do more of what you love. Write!
With all that in mind, the cover art department here at The Wild Rose Press, Inc. strives to grab the reader within those 3 seconds. A book has to be marketable or else you’ve done all that writing for, well...nothing. But together we can achieve this goal.
Here are a few things to consider when giving the artist information about your book. Remember, it is highly unlikely that they will read the work before designing a cover.
- Tone. A cover should always represent the overall feel of the book. It should have a presence, one that clearly depicts what is inside. Readers don’t like surprises. No one wants to pick up a book that looks sweet and endearing to find it’s all about kicking puppies. Tricking a reader is an instant loss to any future sales, not to mention how they tend to respond to their disappointment by posting hateful, almost cruel reviews all over the Internet. They’re never going to trust you again. So, whatever the sub-genre, make certain that tone is heavily conveyed in your descriptions, suggestions, and examples. This will be the overall guide for the artist.
- Elements. Always apply the KISS principle. ‘keep it simple stupid’ The average size of a book cover image is rather small. Just pop over to Amazon and you’ll see what the norm is. Sure you can click and see the bigger image, but that’s after those first few seconds. Therefore, you want to keep the clutter on the cover at a minimum. You don’t have to have every element in your book on the front. Try the old artist rule of three. What three things (people are things too) represent the most important elements of your story? How could they be incorporated together to tell the potential reader what it’s all about? If a consumer is just grazing the shelves (electronically) and can’t make out what is on your cover due to its clutter, you’ve just lost a potential sale. They’re not going to click through to read about it.
- Communication. The artists need all the input from you they can get, and then…they need a free hand to go and create. They may not get it just the way you want, but you have to throw that notion out. No two people will perceive the cover or your writing in the same way. So be very clear in your suggestions. Don’t mention horses if you don’t really want them on the cover. Use examples, other covers, offer up photos as suggestions, anything to explain to them what it is you’re hoping for and what your book is all about. If you don’t tell them, they’ll never know, and you stand the chance of getting a cover that has nothing to do with your story—in other words, poor to no sales.
In this world of tweets, tubes, and blogs, your book will be seen around the world in a variety of ways in less time than it takes to say hello. So, make those first 3 seconds the best they can be. The wrapping is just as important as what is inside.
Co-Founder & Vice President
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.