The old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” is a myth in the publishing industry. For people, sure. But for novels, the truth is that more people do the exact opposite. In the publishing industry, people judge a book by its cover constantly.
A few years back, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article which said that the average book store browser spends eight seconds looking at the front cover of your book and fifteen seconds looking at the back. So, all in all, we have about twenty three seconds to close the deal and make a person interested enough to buy a book. Good grief.
Now, how does this translate to online browsing? Well, there have been case studies done where book sales have doubled when the cover was changed. In addition, one top reviewer at Goodreads specifically stated that she doesn’t even consider a book to read if it has a bad cover and description.
The Book Smugglers did their own survey back in 2010 and their findings give some insight into the importance of book covers, at least to their audience. The sampling was not that large (a little over 600). The first question about whether the cover plays a decisive role in their buying a book is important. 79% said it was. However, when you look at the rest of the survey, it becomes apparent it’s not the decisive role. It’s coupled with name recognition, track record, and so forth, something indie authors do not have. So, we need to squeeze every advantage we can out of our efforts until we get there.
All that being said, I’m in the camp that believes the book cover is important. Very important. I will not look at a book if the cover is bad. Period. Like has been said in so many post around the web, if the book cover is bad then it’s a reflection to me that the inside is bad as well. If the writer or the publishing company didn’t take the time to package it right, it’s highly probable the writing is just as sub-par. It’s nothing personal but I can’t waste my time on that. Time is life and too precious a commodity to waste.
So I’m chronicling my journey in producing my book cover for my upcoming book, Blackson’s Revenge. I haven’t written a syllable of that book yet but here I am producing the book cover now. Is that backwards? Uh…no.
The book cover shouldn’t be an afterthought. I believe you should have that done before you begin your novel or, in the very least, start it while you’re writing. One reason is so it inspires you to write. A picture is worth a thousand words and inspires much more many times.
There is a method to my madness and I’ll explain that in the next part of this series. In the meantime, I’m interested in what you believe is a good book cover. Post your links in the comment section.