Friday, March 5, 2010

ASK PZM - March

How important is my book cover?

The front cover of your book is very important, and it is even more so in this age of Internet book buying.

Let’s think about this. You’ll be promoting your book online and linking to its Amazon page or a page on your website where the book can be bought. The cover is one of the strongest emotional connections you can create with a prospective reader.

Look at the size of book covers on Amazon. How clearly can you read the title, the author’s name, “register” what the cover image projects?

That’s how small your book cover will be. And this is why you can’t look at a physical book cover and determine its effectiveness based on that size.

If you doubt this wisdom, think about billboards you’ve driven by. How many times can you barely read the main tagline? Have you wondered why the company and the advertising agency didn’t notice the type was too small or too fancy to read quickly as you drove by?

The answer is that those people looked at the billboard prototype while standing still and not at the distance from which a driver sees most billboards.

The same with your book cover. You have to forget about how you see the cover and put yourself in the mindset of how someone with the attention-span of a half a second will look at your cover.

If you want expert book cover advice, check out John Kremer’s website – he offers book cover consulting. And on a recent book marketing teleseminar for which I was his guest, he rightly noted a problem with the cover of my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant.”

(The words “A Sharon Gold Novel” should not be shoved up right under “Mrs. Lieutenant.” I’ve had advertising design training and I should have noticed this problem but didn’t.)

Cautionary warning: Yes, I know that self-published authors have much more control over their covers than do authors whose books have a traditional publisher. Still, if you think your cover won’t “read” well online, ask your agent to discuss your concerns with your publisher.

How important is it for all my social media profiles to be integrated with my book marketing?

Again, very important. You want to present a consistent image across the Internet. True, you may have different projects (for example, a website for a business that has nothing to do with your book). Yet you still want to appear consistent throughout all social media sites.

The easiest thing to do to tie everything together is to use your photo (rather than your book cover) for your social media profiles. (The exception is for your book’s Facebook fan page, which is different than your own Facebook profile.)

In other words, your photo on your Twitter profile, your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn profile, your profiles on book sites as well as the author photo on your book’s website and the business owner photo on your business’s website should all be the same.

This one consistent photo (with you eyes visible, a smile on your face, and no low-dipping neckline) connects your presence throughout the Internet.

Because, as marketers know, it usually takes quite a few “impressions” before someone interested in your book or business acts on his/her interest. Thus you want that impression to be consistent wherever someone finds you.

© 2010 Miller Mosaic, LLC

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of Miller Mosaic Power Marketing. You can get her free report “Twitter, Facebook and Your Website: A Beginning Blueprint for Harnessing the Power of 3 for Your Business” (and your book) now at


  1. Thanks for the link to John Kremer's site. And the info about using the same pic. I hadn't thought of that as being important. It's good to know it is.

  2. You'll find lots of good info on John Kremer's site.

  3. It has something to do with photo apps too. Some authors pics are bad on their webpage, but the actual bookcover on Amazon looks great. Guess that can be a big problem.

  4. Sarah --

    Definitely a problem when your book website should function as the home base for your online book marketing efforts.


  5. Hank Phillipi Ryan recently talked about this at smartbitchestrashybooks. Her first Charlotte McNally book cover was changed, and I personally wouldn't have given the first one a second glance. The second, and current, cover IMO, much better reflects the content of the book (which I recommend, btw.)

  6. Jessi --

    I love your statement "I personally wouldn't have given the first one a second glance." That's exactly why a book cover is so very, very important.


  7. Great post, Phyllis. I always learn something new. For instance. Thanks for the reference. I get the impression the day I get my contract is the day the real work begins.

  8. Hi, Phyllis,

    I think people underestimate a professional book cover--and they also confuse good art with good cover art. Have you blogged on the elements of a good cover? I haven't checked John's site yet.


  9. Colleen --

    Before you get a contract you should be building up your relationships on top social media sites. Then you will already have a following when you get that contract and "the real work begins."

    Karina --

    I don't think I've written a blog post on the elements of good cover art because I'm not an expert on book covers. I would suggest, though, that you check books on Amazon (especially bestsellers) and see what elements strike you in the size photo that Amazon features.

    And let me just add this warning: the best cover art in the world probably cannot overcome a poor title -- a title that is not memorable or is misleading in what the book is about.

    Both an effective title and effective cover art are needed.


  10. Recently a reviewer received my book as a Christmas present. He kept it at the bottom of the pile for as long as he could because the cover depicted snow, and he hates snow. Lucky for me he finally read Dead Witness out of a sense of obligation, and I received a wonderful review. So, I suppose there are always those you can't please no matter how much work you put into the cover.

  11. Joylene --

    It is so true that "there are always those you can't please no matter how much work you put into the cover."

    At least we can start off with the best possible cover.


  12. A good article and some good comments. Little by little I'm learning what I needed to know at the start.

    Some good guest appearances here Joylene.

    Chris H.


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