Does Your Book Stand Out?

As an author or small publisher, you think you want your book to stand out. You believe that a book that stands out from the crowd will catch people’s attention. Maybe, maybe not.

While a book that stands out from the crowd does catch people’s attention. The question you should ask yourself is: What type of attention are you catching?

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Does your book make people say, “That looks intriguing!” or “That looks odd or out of place!”?

While you want your book to stand out, if you have independently published, it is more important that your book looks like everyone else’s book. In other words, you want your book to look professional and conform to the expectations readers have for the genre you are writing in.

For example, if you write romance novels, using photographs of real people or places in your book’s cover design will make you look like the other books in your genre. If, instead, you use a pencil and ink drawing on your book’s cover, your book will stand out, but it may send a bewildering message to regular romance readers. These readers will wonder if your book is really a romance novel.

Valerie Andrews, a book award judge, says, “The design sets that tone for the book and either calls out to the reader or sends the reader on to the next book.”

The KISS principle (Keep it Simple Sweetheart) is important in book design. It is better to err on the side of having your book design be too simple than too complicated and cluttered.

All the elements of a book’s design—cover design, interior layout, fonts, trim size, binding, and even paper stock—should conform to industry standards. Remember that keeping your book design (both cover and interior) simple will be more effective in grabbing readers’ attention.

Instead of focusing on a cover design to make your book stand out, focus on a title that grabs attention and sales text that draws a reader in. Obtaining strategic endorsements can also help your book stand out. Strive for your book to stand out with superior writing and compelling story.

If you are a new or unestablished author, it is more important that your book looks and feels like other professionally published books than that it stands out from the crowd. Strive to distinguish yourself through your words and message, not the design of your book.

Related Posts:
Book Cover Design Tools to Know
Do You Know What it Takes to Sell a Book?
Is Your Book a Work of Beauty?

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Photo courtesy of Anastasia Zhenina

Award-Winning Book Covers

Each year the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) hosts the Top Shelf Award program to recognize design excellence among its member publishers in the Christian publishing industry. The winners of this year’s award were recently announced.

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I think it is worthwhile to note these winning titles here for you. Your book’s cover is often your number one marketing tool. People do judge books by their covers. A good cover can draw a potential reader to your book, while a bad cover will turn readers away from your book.

Since cover design is largely art and people have a wide variety of tastes in art, rarely do you find unanimous consensus on whether a book’s cover is alluring. However, there are some standards that are extremely important in book design. Some of these include:

  • Lots of space (an uncluttered look)
  • Easy-to-read fonts
  • Ability to read the title from across a room or in a thumbnail sketch
  • The title and image together should be clever or create emotion

Personally, I don’t find many of these titles that won the Top Shelf Award very alluring. I am not drawn in by many of them. Frankly, some of them don’t even follow the industry standards for good cover images. Some have titles that are really hard to read and don’t hold up to the “thumbnail test” (see The Thumbnail Rule).

What do you think of these award-winning Christian book cover designs?

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The Importance of a Book Cover

We are in the process of putting together the 2012 Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) cooperative product catalog that showcases our member publishers’ titles. As I was going through the various titles for the catalog, I was struck by a particular book cover.

I think the book cover is nicely done. So much so, that the cover alone made me want to read the book.

I know that I am not the only one who gets drawn in by a book cover. I have written about this subject before, and I am sure I will write about it in the future. Your book cover is one of your most important marketing tools. Readers get turned on or turned off by the cover of your book.

In doing some data analysis recently on BookCrash, CSPA’s book review program for bloggers, I noticed something. The books with the covers that looked the most self-published (i.e. poor cover design) had the least amount of requests for copies to review from bloggers. I know that it was not the genre of these books as each of these titles was fiction and fiction is fairly popular with BookCrash’s review bloggers.

Make sure you are putting plenty of thought and money into your book covers. They are your book’s number one marketing tool.

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