Saturday, 21 June 2014

Can Changing your Book Cover Design Affect Book Sales?

Can book cover design really make a difference to book sales? Color and fonts can have massive impact upon the sale of your book, according to reliable sources on book publishing. But I wanted to find out for myself. I decided to conduct an experiment on book cover design to see if book sales increased (or reduced). The focus of this article is on fiction books.

Tips on Color Theme for Book Sales

The colors used on your book cover should inform on the type and genre of book it is. Primary colors against dark or black are powerful, and are often seen on political or crime thrillers; soft blues and mauves can be seen on contemporary women’s fiction, yellows and greens on humor. However, every color should be considered when designing a book cover.

Fonts for High Selling Books

Simple, large fonts are best, so that the title of the book can be read when the book cover is on thumbnail view. I stretch my fonts as large as the book cover will allow, retaining a portion of the cover for a compelling image. As I write psychological thrillers, I aim to convey a similar mood on all my novels, although the images used are different.

Horrible Book Cover Design to Avoid

Before explaining my book cover experiment, here are some mistakes to avoid in book cover design:
  • Wrong dimensions. Don’t upload a square image on your book product page, as your book could look like a CD. Watch out for dimensions too narrow as well, as this could look unattractive. A ration of around 1:6 is recommended. Amazon recommends a minimum of 625 pixels on the shortest side and 1000 pixels on the longest side.
  • Watch out for low resolutions. Zooming in a little may reveal grainy or pixilated images. For best quality, your image would be 2820 pixels on the shortest side and 4500 pixels on the longest side.
  • Some book covers just smack of cheapness. Beware of badly-composed images (too high, low or lopsided on the image). Fonts fluorescent in bright colors. Image too bright or too dark, and fonts that are too small to read.
  • Avoid using pictures that are obviously a stock image or clip art.
  • If you can afford it, use original images and employ a book designer. As I love experimenting with visual elements, I design my own book covers.
Experiment in Book Cover Design

Experiment in Book Design
The Old Cover
I decided to conduct my own experiment on book cover design to see if this affected book sales. After two years I thought my book cover design needed a revamp. My thriller, the Shuttered Room is the focus of this experiment. I was pleased with the existing cover, but felt it needed added dynamism. As can be seen from the image, subdued hues where used.

I decided to use a simple and dynamic image: wrists bound in rope. This image informed on the story of kidnapping and a key scene within. The reader can immediately garner the mood of the book and decide whether to purchase.

Book Tips for Compelling Images

The rope had to be thick, exhibiting cords and textures. The hands had to be shot in sunshine, to reveal contours. Deep shadows can be seen beneath the hands, conveying a sinister feel to the book. The image, before editing appeared prosaic and ordinary. This was fixed by shifting the color balance and contrast. I aimed for a metallic blue-green cast with high contrast. I then degraded the image slightly with artistic effect that suggested soft putty. This also injected an abstract quality to the image.

Book Designs that Look Good for Thumbnail Image

Increase Book Sales
My New Cover
I stretched the book title across the entire width of the book cover. I liked the difference in size between the words ‘Shuttered’ and ‘Room,’ adding emphasis to the latter. This created a staggered feel to the book title. I graded out the letters to make them appear to melt into the background. A soft, black border was added to make the book cover stand out against the white background of the book product page.

Increase Sale with Book Design

Now it was just a matter of waiting to see what happens. As can be seen from the before and after there is quite a difference in the look and feel of the book cover. The font used is larger and bolder. This makes the title easily read in thumbnail view. The color balance is sharper, more metallic and sinister. The main image has changed too, no longer an eye, but hands bound in rope. The black edging to the book added punch.

How to Experiment with Book Design

Never settle for a book cover if it can be improved upon. Niggles will continue to do so while the book cover remains. I will tweak even the smallest thing if I feel necessary. Never settle for second best and start from scratch if necessary. Will come back to this article in a few months time to report of the results.

Update on Book Sales After Changing my Book Cover

Sales remained much the same for about two months. And then sales started to increase just after Christmas by 15%. Popularity seemed to breed popularity. As book sales increased, so did the likelihood of my book cover catching the potential customer's eye. The 'customers who bought this book also bought,,,' kicked off and sales increased by a further 5% into summer. With a few dips here and there, my book sales has increased overall and is remaining steady to this day. I have since made some small modifications to the font, but am disinclined to change the cover again, as I really like it and have used it on my favicon. If it ain't broken, why fix it?

Tips for Self Publishing

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