By Jennifer S. Wilkov, host of the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show on WomensRadio
The Literary Agent Matchmaker™
As authors and writers, we’re always learning about resources and industry tools that we can use to improve our book project performance and the enjoyment of our writing and marketing experiences. Today let’s talk about book covers and brand identity.
Even though the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover, when you establish a unique look for your book’s cover it can actually become your hook!
For years, designers and publishers have gone for looks that will be consistent with the book’s content and encourage interest in the book itself.
There’s a whole lot of “real estate” on a book cover so think twice about how you’lll use this asset wisely.
A book cover is comprised of the front cover, the back cover and the spine. You may be thinking, “Jennifer, this is elementary!” And you’d be right, but these components deserve careful consideration, especially in the current day and age of publishing.
For hardcovers and paperbacks, the attraction starts with the front cover OR spine. If a book is put on the shelf with its spine facing out, you are limited to this itsy, bitsy amount of space to make a first impression on the buyer and reader. If you are fortunate to have your book face out on the shelf, then the front cover is your ticket to attracting the reader’s eye.
For the same book, if it is an ebook or if it is included in an online booksellers’ inventory, the front cover is your key to success since this is what the browsing reader who is looking for a great book will see.
The back cover, while effective in the physical bookseller where the consumer can pick up the book and turn it over, loses its value when it comes to the electronic world we live in.
Now I’m not saying that the back cover of your book is worthless. Hardly! The copy that you would use on your back cover – the text – is very valuable indeed. This is where you may include a synopsis, praise or bullet points about the contents of the book and story inside.
Book covers tend to house the brand identity of a writer’s work. Book brands that have multiple authors use book cover design to distinguish their books from others while keeping their presentation consistent to the consumer.
Today’s guest, John Kilcullen, was one of the key people behind the effective branding strategy of the …For Dummies books. While these books have different authors, the book brand itself is easily identifiable by its bright yellow color and its title on the chalkboard cover image. The icon of the Dummies guy is also just that – a recognizable icon that conjures up the brand identity of the …For Dummies books.
Other books like the …For Dummies books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to… books which use orange, white and blue colors on their covers and which are published by Alpha and the …An Hour A Day social media and Internet-oriented books published by Sybex which have all developed a consistent, repeated design for their books that is recognizable to the purchaser as a reliable resource.
The funny thing about consistency in the look of your books is that this subtly conveys to the reader that if they enjoyed reading a previous book in the same series, they can be assured that the next one they buy will be just as good and provide a similar structure.
Now if you’re thinking this type of book cover and brand identity is only for nonfiction how-to books like these – think again.
Fiction books in a series and that are by a particular author have clear brand identities too. Oftentimes, the book covers will include a font type for the name of the author and the book title in certain positions so that each cover reflects the “brand” for that author. Take authors like James Patterson, David Baldacci, Patricia Cornwell, Clive Cussler and John Grisham. While the pictures on their book covers differ from book to book to reflect the image relevant to the story inside, the position of the book title and their names as authors of the books appear in the same places so as to provide a brand identity.
This also occurs in romance novels and their popular authors like Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, Jude Deveraux, Linda Howard and Julie Garwood. In Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series, the pictures and the colors of each book may be different; however, it’s easy to distinguish these books and the series by Debbie’s name which appears prominently and in the same font on each book.
For you children’s authors, keep this strategy in mind for your books too! Dr. Seuss had his name prominently appear in the same font type and branding on all of his books that were produced with bright book covers and characters of all shapes and sizes. When his name appears on the book, parents know they can rely on a great reading experience for their young ones.
When you think about your books and how and where they will appear to a reader – whether it’s on the shelf of a physical bookseller, online at an Internet website or in an ereader catalogue, or at the library in your local city – be cognizant that your book cover can also be an important hook for your book!
Jennifer’s show can be heard every week on Tuesday mornings at 9am when it is broadcast on WomensRadio.com and syndicated on Google News and Live365.com. Each show is archived for replay listeners in different time zones and countries.
For more information on this Education Corner topic and others, please refer to www.YourBookIsYourHook.com/blog for more articles and resources to help you with your books.