Eight seconds. That is all the time you have to convince a reader to check out your book. If your book’s cover does not engage the reader in these few seconds, you lose.
People do judge books by their cover. As a result, your book’s cover is:
- A reader’s first impression of your book.
- Your most important marketing tool.
Jellybooks, the company that provides free books to readers in exchange for the ability to track the reader’s interaction with the book. From this information, Jellybooks can tell when people read, how long they read, how far they read in a book, and how quickly they read.
The company then uses this information to give the book’s publisher feedback. A few of the questions Jellybook answers for publishers include:
- Does the book have a high word-of-mouth potential?
- What are the optimal cover, title, and description for a book?
- Is the audience a narrow, loyal niche—or a broad, less-committed mass-market audience?
Jellybooks has been collecting and analyzing data on books since 2012. They have made two important discoveries regarding book covers from the data they have collected.
1. Book covers influence readers greatly in their choices.
One interesting discovery from Jellybooks is that readers are greatly influenced by a book’s cover, however, they are usually not aware of it. Jellybooks reports that, when it comes to book covers, it is not about standing out. Rather, a cover has to be appropriate for the targeted audience, fit the title, and match the description. In addition, it has to raise expectations, but not create misleading expectations. There are no hard rules as to why one cover works better than another in regards to sending the “pick me” message.
2. The probability that someone will recommend a book is heavily influenced by the cover.
Jellybooks feels that this is one of the most important findings they have made. It is important because word-of-mouth is the number one driver of book sales. As with being influenced by the cover, most people aren’t even aware that the cover also influences whether they recommend a book or not. But, since people are concerned about being judged, they are only going to recommend a book if they perceive that the book’s cover is worthy and won’t get them negatively judged by someone they recommend the book to.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a good book cover. Your book cover matters. You and your book will be judged by your cover. Make sure that the judgement is a favorable one.
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Photo courtesy of Leah Kelley.