Many of us have the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, drummed into us from an early age as a way to remind us that we should not judge people based on their physical appearance. However, customers do judge books by their cover, title, pen name, blurb and the author’s bio. If you are a relatively unknown author, you must do everything possible to make your book stand out in the crowded market. The marketing journey for your book should begin with these five elements. Here are Lotus Sharp’s top tips for ensuring that your cover is appealing, the title is catchy, your pen name is classy, your blurb makes sense and your bio is relevant to help kick off your marketing campaign the right way.
Rule number one - Do Your Research!
I have seen many cover images that were not suitable for the genre, lazy designs and downright ugly cover designs. Unfortunately, design is subjective so what you think looks great, might not appeal to your target demographic. Therefore, you must do your research! Have a look at some of the top-ranking books in your genre on Amazon and look for recurring design elements. Listen to what book bloggers and influencers like about certain covers and please, before you sign off on a cover, get a focus group to give you honest, unbiased feedback. Your friends and family will be too polite and you need people to be brutally honest. So, go onto Twitter or ask a local book club to give you feedback.
Rule Number Two – Subtext Matters!
It is also important to think about subtext with the images you use, especially if it is a children’s book! Although the examples below are old and out of print, I have seen many modern children’s books with inappropriate subtext in the cover image and/or the title. While this might get you some publicity online, it will not help your sales. Look at your cover carefully and pick apart every aspect of it. Think about what message it sends to potential readers and ask yourself if that message aligns with your brand as an author. Again, get feedback because someone else might spot something you missed.
Rule Number Three – Pen Names Can be Gender Neutral but Not Gender Fluid
J K Rowling was advised by her publisher to use her initials and not her first name because they were worried that boys would not want to read a book written by a woman. Sometimes there are strategic reasons to disguise your gender by using initials. What is a bad idea, and yes, I have seen this happen, is when a male author uses a female name as a pen name or visa versa because they think it will lead to more sales. This is seen as deliberately misleading and it limits the author’s ability to do events. Can you imagine the bookshop owner’s reaction when they expect a female author named Rebecca to attend a book signing, but a dude with a beard turns up instead? That sends a message that you are not trustworthy and have something to hide. Of course, if you are a transgendered person, regardless of your stage of transition, then of course you can use your preferred name. My message is to cis-gendered people who try to deliberately mislead readers to sell more books. If you insist on using a first name instead of an initial then choose a gender fluid name like Alex, Charlie or Sam.
Rule Number Four – Your Blurb is a Key Selling Point!
Once a customer likes the look of the book cover, title and pen name, the next thing they will do is read the blurb. I have read thousands of blurbs in my time and if the blurb does not t give me any indication of what the book is about, I lose interest. If it tells me too much, I do not feel like I need to read the book. Writing your blurb should not be an afterthought, it should something that you spend considerable time on getting right. Ask people for feedback! Get them to read the blurb and tell you what they think the book is about or at least what themes are in the book. Can they tell what genre it is? If the answer is no, then rewrite it. Spend some time reading the blurbs for top-ranking books in your genre to see how your blurb compares to other authors. Some authors don’t want to include a blurb or want a mysterious one liner and this is a very bad idea. Unless you already have a dedicated fan base, you must have a compelling blurb.
Rule Number Five – Your Author Bio Must be relevant
If your book is non-fiction and based on specialist knowledge, then I want to know what makes you qualified to write about that subject matter. If your book is fiction, then give readers some background about you and your inspiration to write the book. Do not include your exact age or relationship status as this will change over time, instead if you want to include your age, it is better to state the year of your birth as this will not change. Please don’t say that you are single, because it is a book not Facebook! It sounds so obvious, but you would be surprised how often this happens. Your bio should tell people why you wrote the book and why people should spend money on a product you created. Remember that text is open to interpretation, so sarcasm or a dark sense of humour may come across as arrogant or rude and this will put people off buying the book. You want to come across as likeable and a safe pair of hands.
If you need an expert opinion on your cover design, blurb, pen name and/or bio, Lotus Sharp are happy to help. Contact us through our website on www.lotussharp.com or through Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lotussharpAS and we will help you launch your book the right way! #writingcommunity #authors #Amwriting