The Tale of Two Book Covers

One of the most exciting things you’ll get to do as a published author is decide on your book cover. For a long time, your novel may have just been black words on a white page, but a book cover is the pretty packaging that is used to attract readers and get them to purchase your novel. Several thoughts on marketing/branding become important during this process.

Most publishers will allow you to provide input into the book cover. Before my cover was designed, they asked me for some directions. This is what I provided for instructions.

1. Different from what is normally seen in CBA fiction. Who doesn’t want to stand out?
2. Dark imagery/suspenseful/intriguing: dark colors, creepy feel, etc…
3. Not overtly medical. Above all else– this was most important to me. This may be confusing to some as it is a medical thriller (of which I am very proud!), but the reason behind that direction was that I’m not sure I will always write medical thrillers, and I wanted to reach the wider suspense/thriller audience.

Here were the two choices I had:

When I got these from the marketing director I was stunned! I loved both for different reasons.

Here were some of my thoughts.

I loved the cover with the menacing killer, and he actually looked just like the villain in my own mind. How could they possibly have done that? I’m a risk taker, and that cover definitely appealed to that side of my personality. My first thought was: Even Ted Dekker hasn’t done anything this scary. Can I pull it off? Is it wise to have something this risky as a debut cover?

Why was it risky? Well, this is where some marketing comes into play. The largest segment of book buyers (even for suspense) is women. Is a woman going to pick up the book with the evil, scary dude on the front? If she does, would she keep it in her hands or plop it right back on the shelf. Was it safer– maybe smarter would be the better term– to use a cover that will accomplish what I wanted but still attract those who are most likely to buy the novel?

I was fortunate because I got these draft covers just before I left for the ACFW conference last September and was able to get the opinion of lots of people on which one they liked the most.

There was one clear winner.

Another interesting thing that happened was a couple of people commented on the size of my name on the front cover. I got the sense that maybe they thought I might be “too big for my britches” as they say. I found that sentiment a little fascinating as it certainly wasn’t something I had insisted on but wondered if there was an unspoken code of name size that once you sold a certain volume of books– then your name could be in large print.

Which cover do you think I picked and why? Do you think an author needs to “earn” their name being in large print?

Click here for the answer and leave a comment here and at Redwood’s Medical Edge. I’ll be drawing a winner from the comments section of both blogs for a copy of Proof!  Drawing will be Saturday at midnight, April 7th. Winner announced at Redwood’s Medical Edge April 8th.

Cover Art by the amazing Nick Richardson.

Your Name is Your Brand

I’ve been delving a lot into marketing books and I’ve garnered a few nuggets that I thought would be helpful to those who are beginning to develop their on-line presence—and maybe change the minds of a few who are already there.

Your name is your brand.

In writing, there’s a lot of talk about what your brand is. Put simply, your brand is a promise to your readers. If you write historical novels then write an edgy supernatural thriller—your historical followers are busy scratching their heads and your new readers are doing the same when they look at your previously published books. Writers who have deviated a lot from their promise usually suffer in sales.

But more important than that is how will your readers find you. When they search Twitter and Facebook for your profile, how easy are you making it for them? If your author name is Joe Smith but your Twitter handle is @hottexasdude3000—how simple are you making it for your potential buyers to discover you and your product. And yes, I did search for that moniker and it seems to be wide open for those who would like to claim it.

Let’s focus on Twitter. Your handle should not be:

1. Something funny and quirky. Though this may garner a lot of followers, it’s probably doing little to build your brand. Especially if you don’t write quirky or funny—not that you can’t be that way personally. Name first. Image second. Your presence should have a consistent feel among your blog, web site, etc…

2. A character in your novel or book title. What happens when your publishing house hates that name? They require you to change it. Now, it’s time spent explaining to all your happy followers that Derek Storm (just love Castle!) is dead. Oh, that’s another reason. You as the author decide to kill the main character. Unless you are in a position to have complete control over your books, this is risky.

3. Your blog. Again, your blog should support your brand. Not be the brand. When people Google search, they’re going to look for your name first. They may discover your fine blog through your name search but the opposite may not be true. My name gets far more Google hits than my blog name. This is what you want to shoot for.

What if you’ve done one of these fatal errors? Relax. It can be changed. Why postpone the inevitable? Work to make these changes now. Make your name your brand. Work to have a consistent feel among your social media sites. There’s always room for improvement. Even though my Twitter and Facebook profiles are my name, I need to improve the feel so it speaks suspense.

How about you? Is your name your brand? If not, why not? Do you think you should change it?

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