Book Covers Still Vital for Branding

Although it is my prediction that 90% of nonfiction self-help, business and inspirational books will be sold electronically in the next year or two, covers will still be vital for branding. If you look at books on Amazon or any other online retailer, an image of the “book” whether it is sold as a physical book or in an electronic form is the first thing you see.

Some important considerations about covers:
1. The title should be visible from at least ten feet. When you see an author interviewed on television, can you read the title when the interviewer holds up the book? Many covers have a white or very light color background to maximize title readability.

2. The only essential information for the front cover is the title and the author’s name. Popular titles right now are one word titles, like Switch and Drive, followed by a subtitle with “how to…” or “7 strategies to…”

3. Do not clutter the front cover with too many graphics or too much text. There is a tendency for the new author to think they have to cram as much as possible on that front cover or no one will see it. The front cover should be used to generate emotional impact and then the back cover gives the logical buying reasons.

4. And speaking of the back cover, there probably won’t be a back cover for electronic books, but there is plenty of space to put testimonials, the author bio and other information in the back of the book.

5. If you plan to sell in bookstores (even event bookstores), don’t forget the design of the spine, that small space between the front and back covers. Most books on a shelf have the spine out and the title should look interesting and be very readable.

6. Take some time to browse the bookstore and see what covers grab your attention and which don’t. Even major publishers put out books with bad covers – covers that don’t represent the promise of the book or don’t sell it effectively.

7. Work with a professional cover designer – don’t try to do a book cover design yourself. It is probably the single most important investment you make in your book – other than the time you took to write it.

CBS Sunday Morning recently did a segment on book covers. It was interesting to note that publishers have different covers in different countries. Here is the link to the program if you’d like to see it:

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