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Old 08-26-2014, 12:23 AM   #1
crich70
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How important is the right cover image?

I got a link in my email about a short blog post regarding covers and asking for comments. I wrote one which I have posted below, but I wondered what others thought about the importance of a good cover in general.

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I don’t often buy paper books now (mostly ebooks) but I do have to admit that when I do buy them (and when I buy ebooks as well) one of the 1st things that catches my interest is the cover. You can’t read the blurb for a book online without clicking on the link but you can see the cover among the listings of books on sites like Amazon & B&N and if the cover is sloppy even if I read the blurb I’m going to wonder if the book itself is any better. A blurb may be well written, but it’s not a long piece in and of itself and the care a writer takes in choosing a cover for his/her book (I think) can reflect on how much care was taken in writing and editing the book itself. It may not always be true, but why take the chance of writing a great book and having people not buy it because you just slapped any old image on as a cover?
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:04 AM   #2
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Cover Art is critical. In general most people will never read your blurb, look at your reviews, or open to look at the sample unless the cover grabs them first.

The cover's job is used up in the first 5 seconds or less of the sale, but its job is to tell the reader "this is a scifi" or "this is a epic fantasy" "or "this is a book about cats" or what ever. It needs to look professional and fit the genre.

Unless you have a name like Stephen King, your book cover is one of the most important parts of selling your book. If your name is Stephen King, just put that on a blank cover and it will sell fine.
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:32 AM   #3
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And not just the image - decent cover typography is absolutely essential.
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:47 AM   #4
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Simply put, I read ebooks - I do not see your cover and I could care less whats there.
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbcohen View Post
Simply put, I read ebooks - I do not see your cover and I could care less whats there.
A response that begs two questions:

Could you care more?

How do you choose your ebooks?

If you only ever buy on recommendation from others then it may be that covers don't matter to you, but new writers cherish the hope that there are many readers out there that will look at books without external recommendation. If that hope is valid, then filtering priority must go something like:
1) Location (the book must exist where they shop)
2) Genre (the book should be in the section they are looking)
3) Cover (unless you are getting preferential treatment due to prior sales success or whatever, then this is the only way to catch the eye of someone scanning over the thousands of new releases that come out every month, they can't be expected to read every blurb)
4) Blurb (if you got them this far you've got them further than most)
5) Price (I'm uncertain exactly where this sits, it could be anywere between 3 and 6 depending on the buyer's search technique)
6) Preview
7) Content

And now that I've shed that bit of totally depressing news (that the content that I spent almost two years creating and polishing is only 7th on the list), I'm going away to cry.
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
A response that begs two questions:

Could you care more?

How do you choose your ebooks?

If you only ever buy on recommendation from others then it may be that covers don't matter to you, but new writers cherish the hope that there are many readers out there that will look at books without external recommendation. If that hope is valid, then filtering priority must go something like:
1) Location (the book must exist where they shop)
2) Genre (the book should be in the section they are looking)
3) Cover (unless you are getting preferential treatment due to prior sales success or whatever, then this is the only way to catch the eye of someone scanning over the thousands of new releases that come out every month, they can't be expected to read every blurb)
4) Blurb (if you got them this far you've got them further than most)
5) Price (I'm uncertain exactly where this sits, it could be anywere between 3 and 6 depending on the buyer's search technique)
6) Preview
7) Content

And now that I've shed that bit of totally depressing news (that the content that I spent almost two years creating and polishing is only 7th on the list), I'm going away to cry.
Ah, but doesn't that just mean that items 1-6 are just the bait and hook that an author uses to reel in a sale?
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:49 AM   #7
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Yes, the cover/etc are how you get the reader to the content. Do them poorly and the content does not really matter. Do them well and the content becomes king. They will by your SECOND book based on the content of the first book. But that first sale as an unknown requires the cover, blurb, etc to draw them in.

Content is king with regard to long term success. But is minor factor in the first sale of a completely unknown author.
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
Ah, but doesn't that just mean that items 1-6 are just the bait and hook that an author uses to reel in a sale?
I'm not a fisherman, I'm a writer.

More seriously, I agree with what Vydorscope just posted, the most long-term important thing in all those steps is the content. It's the content that will, hopefully, gain you recommendations that may lead to other sales without needing the pure chance of catching eyes with the cover. And it's the content that will, hopefully, bring the reader back to your other books. I think this is one of the reasons why success often takes a lot of time and many books - it can take all that to build up any sort of momentum in your readership.

There are other filters in there that I've missed, but they can vary a lot with different readers. For example, when looking to take the chance on a new (to me) author I prefer to choose one with several books out - it makes the pay-off that much bigger if I like them. So somewhere between the cover and the preview my shopping would include that extra step of looking to see what else they've written - and that means the other books have to be things that don't turn me away (hence my comments to Gregg in a separate thread about self-help books).
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:19 PM   #9
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To my eye, covers do not sell me books but they can prevent a sale. What I mean is a well-done cover doesn't make me want to read a book any more than the title and description already do. But a poorly designed cover can put me off.
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penforhire View Post
To my eye, covers do not sell me books but they can prevent a sale. What I mean is a well-done cover doesn't make me want to read a book any more than the title and description already do.
Yes, but a well done cover can catch the eye to make you want to read said description. At least it can for me if I'm just browsing a given category/genre.


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But a poorly designed cover can put me off.
Definitely.
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Old 08-27-2014, 12:07 AM   #11
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I think covers matter, but only when they are really bad. I go to the description of the books as the first thing to tell me whether or not I'm interested, and a close second is reviews. Both good and bad reviews are helpful in my book buying decisions. Next is price. Free doesn't interest me as much as it once did, but the other end of the spectrum is a too high a price. Unfamiliar, Independent authors need prices low. If they win me over, then I will pay more for their books.
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Old 08-27-2014, 01:14 AM   #12
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You gotta make sure the cover works as a thumbnail. I see so many covers as thumbnails where you can't read the title, really even see the image. They look like a dirty postage stamp. (This is to be avoided.)
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Old 08-27-2014, 03:35 AM   #13
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The right cover image is very important as it is the one that catches attention. Well, this is pretty basic but still a lot of authors don't invest well in their book covers. When using photos, I suggest to buy from istockphoto, shutterstock, 123rf, etc instead of using the one from your digicam. You can also hire freelance illustrators from fiverr for graphics design. Add a nice typography with your basic Photoshop skill is even enough. Make sure the overall tone depicts the genre of your book.
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:30 AM   #14
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I think that if it's well-designed, the cover of the book can trasmit a huge amount of information about its content. Personally I think a good cover is worth investing in.
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Old 09-03-2014, 08:52 PM   #15
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I have purchased many books from unknown authors because their cover caught my eye. Not all of them were great reads though.

One example that comes to mind is from a DVD movie cover that showed a big muscular guy holding a weapon (flame thrower perhaps). He was not in the movie at all. That was a huge let down.

I am sure that similar things have happened on book covers.

Last edited by AbPho; 09-03-2014 at 08:56 PM.
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