The Next Generation Book Cover?

3D printers made the headlines in 2013 with their ability to print a plastic gun. Still relatively new on the scene, 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model.

3-D Book Cover

3D printing is a sizable market, but according to the market research firm Gartner, it has even greater potential for growth. Due to the cost, however, most of the growth predicted for 2014 with 3D printing will be fueled by enterprise customers. Maybe some of these enterprise customers will be authors and publishers producing 3D book covers.

Yes, you read that right: 3D-printed book covers. The first one has been done. More may follow.

Riverhead Books, has printed the first-ever 3D book slipcover for a new novel by Chang-Rae Lee titled On Such a Full Sea. The company reported that each individual slip cover took 15 hours to print. The covers were made for a special-edition run of 200 signed copies for sale—a number partially decided by how many could physically be printed in time for the shelf date.

Being the first to print a 3D cover is novel and may well garner this author and book much publicity. However, until the price of 3D printing comes down, I doubt we will see a slew of new 3D book covers on new books.

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What is Your Investment?

Which book would you be more invested in—one that you downloaded for free onto your tablet or e-reader, or an antique book that you paid a fair sum for to add to your collection?


Most people would agree that they would be more invested in the antique book. Interestingly, I have noted a similar theory of investment for independently published authors in terms of marketing a book.

With the rise of zero-dollar entry into publishing a book via POD or ebook, the amount of investment author has in marketing appears diminished when compared with those authors who paid thousands of dollars into an offset print run.

It is only human nature. The more we invest in something (in time and money), the more precious and important that thing is to us. The same is true for an author of a book. The more time and money is spent in producing the book, the more important selling the book is to the author.

Sadly, for many authors, simply producing the book (since it costs them next to nothing) is good enough. These authors don’t see the value in investing time and money in marketing the book.

The old adage “It takes money to make money” is still viable, even with the advent of social media. You have to either invest time (which equates to money) or actual money in marketing a book to sell the book.

I am amazed at the number of authors I talk to who want me to provide them with free advice, or even market their books for them for free. These same people expect others to pay to purchase the books they have written, but do not seem willing to pay to purchase the information they need to market their book effectively to get people to buy it.

Other than the information provided free to readers on this blog, I have two main avenues in which to share marketing information with authors and publishers:

  1. Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). Membership in CSPA is open to any small publisher or independently published author producing books for the Christian market. One of the benefits of membership in CSPA is the monthly e-newsletter packed with information, resources, and tips on marketing books. A recent survey of the CSPA members showed that 70% of respondents felt that the monthly e-newsletter was the most helpful benefit of membership. Membership in CSPA is just $85 for the calendar year.
  2. Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. The third edition of this book, featuring updated and expanded information, is releasing next month (Feb. 2014). You can pre-order the book now for a bargain price of $19.99 including shipping. Once the book is released, the price will be $25.99.

This old adage is still true: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Invest some time and money into your marketing efforts and you will reap sales.

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Do You Gush or Drip?

A little while ago I read some interesting statistics in a magazine for writers. The author of the article did not quote where she got her statistics, so I could not check to verify, but they sound reasonable.


The statistics had to do with how many books print-on-demand authors typically sell. The breakdown quoted was:

  • 0 to 99 copies: 30.1%
  • 100 to 199 copies: 53%
  • 200 to 299 copies: 9%
  • 300 to 399 copies: 5%
  • 400 to 499 copies: 2%
  • 500 to 999 copies: .5%
  • 1,000 to 4,999 copies: .3%
  • 5,000+ copies: .1%

According to these statistics, over 83% of all print-on-demand titles sold fewer than 200 copies.

What separated the 83% from the other 17%? I believe it can be summed up in two words: Quality and Marketing.

First and foremost, a book must have quality. Quality writing, quality editing, quality layout, and quality cover design. Then, the author must market, market, and market to sell books.
Marketing is not a one-time deal. To sell books, an author must continually engage in marketing.

Many authors engage in Gush Marketing. They turn on the faucet and do a marketing blast. Then they turn it off and wait for a response.

Gush Marketing is not as effective as Drip Marketing. Drip marketing is the faucet that drips. It is not pouring. It is not running. Rather, it is a continual drip that makes people feel thirsty. The drip reminds people that your book is there ready to fulfill a need they have.

Are you gushing or dripping?

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The Thumbnail Rule

I have a dear friend who is an artist and owns an art gallery. For years, she has provided art instruction to artists seeking to improve their skills. Here is what she tells her students:

I always tell my artists that composition is king. If pieces don’t hold together and look good in a thumbnail size, where you can see the composition at a glance, the art won’t work in person or up close.

Consider: The cover of your book is a work of art. It too must hold up to the rule of looking good in thumbnail size.

YG3 Cover

For years, I have told authors that the title printed on the cover of their book needs to be easily read from across the room. Now, with more and more books being purchased online, it is also important that your book cover also look good in a thumbnail size.

I have found that most books whose titles can easily be read from across the room generally also look good in the thumbnail size.

I recently went round and round on this issue with the cover designer for the third edition of my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace (releasing next month). She was not sending me designs where the title was easily read from a distance or in a thumbnail sketch.

Now, I know that the title of this book is long, and thus the task before the designer was not an easy one. I told her that not every word needed to stand out since the title was so long. I just need the important words to stand out.

Finally, after going back and forth a number of times, and beginning to think we were never going to get there, I finally have a design that is legible from a distance and in a thumbnail size.

I urge you to follow this simple rule of thumb for your next book cover. Make sure the title is legible from across a room and also in a thumbnail size.

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The Best Feedback

God calls you to write or publish a book. You obey and follow his leading.

However, you have your own expectations of what will happen to this book you have produced. Sometimes, our expectations don’t match up with what God’s intentions were for the purpose of a book.

I want to encourage you. Don’t get discouraged. God has his purposes. These may not match your expectations or desires, but God’s purpose for your book will be accomplished.

As an author and a publisher, I know that the best encouragement I can receive is feedback from the people who buy my books and find them helpful or useful. Unsolicited feedback is the best.

Recently, I received the following video from a reader of Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus (the books my husband and I produced a decade ago for infants and toddlers). What a thrill it was to watch this parent using our books to teach his child about God.

This type of feedback makes it all worthwhile. It helps me see the purpose God had in prompting my husband and I to produce these books, even if all my expectations were not  met.

Have you recently received any encouraging feedback from one of your readers?

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