The Importance of a Cover

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.

Related Posts:
Book Cover Design Tools to Know
An Interesting Book Cover Icon
The Thumbnail Rule

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Photo courtesy of Leah Kelley.

Starting Strong May Not Be Enough

Author and leadership speaker Robin Sharma says, “Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.”

As humans, we start new projects strong, but often our efforts peter out when we don’t see results that meet our expectations. As writers, we can start a story or book strong, but keeping that strength in the story or writing until the end is difficult.

sharma-quote

Companies that study book completion rates for readers find that readers’ attention often decays as they progress through a book. One of the benefits of ebooks, is that they can provide data on just how many readers complete a given book.

Jellybooks is one of the leading voices collecting data from readers engaged with ebooks. This company tracks all sorts of reading data. One of the pieces of data Jellybooks collects is how many chapters a reader finishes in a given book.

Most of Jellybooks’ data collection for reading completion rates is collected from fiction books. Fiction reading is linear. It is a story, so the reader starts at the beginning and progresses to the end. Nonfiction books, by nature, are not always linear. Readers can opt to read random chapters on the subjects that most peak their interest.

Jellybooks has found that readers don’t get past the first 50 to 100 pages for the majority of fiction ebooks they read. Wow. That is the majority not the minority. Of course, some books boast a higher dropout rate—up to 90% of readers give up after the second chapter, while some boast higher completion rates of 70 to 90+ percent.

Jellybooks is not alone in their discovery about fiction ebook reading completion rates. Other companies are confirming this data. Authors have about 50 to 100 pages to grab a reader’s attention and keep it. You must get your reader hooked and get them hooked fast.

The reasons readers don’t get hooked usually include:

  • The reader does not like the writing style.
  • The reader can’t identify with the main character.
  • The reader can’t get into the book.

Jellybooks feels that the cure for reading incompletion rates is to have a strong beginning that grabs your reader within the first 30 to 100 pages. I agree.

A strong beginning is important, but I believe it is not enough. A strong story throughout a book and a strong finish are also necessary. A strong finish is required to turn the reader into a fan. Turning a reader into a fan means that reader will seek out the other books you have published to also read. A win for you.

Related Posts:
Interesting Data on Reading
What Are People Reading?
The State of Fiction Reading

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Jellybooks

I have watched with interest the new daily deal services like Groupon and Living Social since they exploded onto the scene. Disappointed that these services are all locale-based and not profile-based, I keep hoping for a service that will benefit publishers of books.

Groupon, Living Social, and other daily deal services all allow businesses to target a city with their deals. This strategy does not work well for publishers. Books readers fit profiles better than geographical locations. In other words, some people read romance, some read history, others read memoirs, and others prefer Christian living materials. Targeting San Francisco, California, with a deal for a new book for Christian women will not garner the same response that targeting Christian women who read across the country would.

Enter Jellybooks.

Believing that many truly great books never appear on a best-seller list, Andrew Rhomberg decided to combine a book discovery sharing tool with Groupon-like deals to help people find great, but possibly obscure books. To this end, he is developing a new service called Jellybooks.

Set to launch in the Spring of 2012, Jellybooks will initially be offered only in the United Kingdom. Andrew hopes to have it running in over a dozen countries by the end of 2012.

In brief, Jellybooks will allow users to find books that look interesting. Publishers will place samples of new books (the first 10% of the book) on Jellybooks. Once people have started browsing, downloading, and sharing, Jellybooks will use the information it gathers to offer users special 50-percent off “Sweet Deals” on books that fit well with their choices so far. Publishers will nominate books to be Sweet Deals. These deals can be used to give a book a second wind six to nine months after publication, to promote a previous title when an author has a new publication, to expose readers to a first book in a series, or to sell bundles of back-list titles.

Jellybooks sounds like the type of coupon service the publishing industry needs. I sure hope that it gets off the ground this spring and becomes a useful tool for readers, authors, and publishers.

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