How do you get new readers to not only discover you, but also plunk down their hard-earned money to read your stories?
You want to give them something provocative to keep them interested for longer than three seconds (according to marketing research) so they’ll consider buying the book.
I'm a very visual person. One of my pet peeves, as any who have known me the past five years will attest, is shoddy cover art. I feel strongly about it and have written articles about the importance of professional and competitive looking cover art—especially self published authors. You want your cover to catch the eye and induce the reader to pick up your book. If one goes through all the time it takes to write a good story, have it properly edited both for story content and grammar/typos, WHY would they slap a crappy(and obvious) photoshop picture on the front and call it a cover?
Earlier this month, Kat Sheridan shared an interview with L.B. Beckett, author of Guild of Spies. The cover art was imaginative and eye catching. It's beautiful. It doesn't scream *amateur* or self-published. Judi Fennell, Formatting 4 U, designed the cover and I asked her to share the process of such a project and the importance of cover art from a marketing standpoint.
One of the biggest start-to-finish projects I've worked on recently was L.B. Beckett’s Guild of Spies. This story is an epic steampunk-speculative fiction-action/adventure-thriller with some romance. As you can see, it doesn't fall into any specific genre, so when it came to doing the cover, we were dealing with a wide-open frontier.
A lot of cover generation is hours of sifting through images. Now, I can do that for a client, but my time is money, or a client can do that for themselves (with direction from me toward a few websites I like to use) and save themselves some cash outlay, though giving up that much time isn't always what people want to do when they could be writing. Up to the client.
To add to the scope of this project, because the book is so long (184,000 words), the author wanted to offer the book as either a full-length novel at one price, or two shorter novels at a lower price. Oh, and we were doing a print book as well. That’s four different cover steps.
I found three different backgrounds all in the same color scheme and feel, so that was one hurdle overcome. I utilized the title and author name graphics across all of the books, and took that Asian element—the phoenix—and kept it, but moved it around. We could also add the Book 1 and 2 titles in a consistent place so readers would be able to identify which book they’d already read.
We had a tag line, too, something that summed up the story:
In a country of secrets, even a spy has her limits…
I tried putting that on the cover, but with all the gears and gadgets and words, it was too much. This was a tough decision from a marketing standpoint because you want to give readers that hook. You want to give them something provocative to keep them interested for longer than three seconds so they’ll consider buying the book. At least, that’s the though process for traditional publishing. But we’re in a new business model and what’s worked in the past doesn't necessarily work now.
Branding was a bigger focus for this story. Keeping those books identifiable for the readers. So we put the tagline on the back. Now, on the digital versions you won’t see it. That is, you won’t see it on the cover. You will, however, see it in the interior. So we've got our hook and it’s included in the online description.
As you can see, there’s a lot involved in getting a book to the readership. But you know what? It’s the same thing for a print book traditionally published. Discoverability has always been a hot button—how do you get new readers to not only discover you, but also plunk down their hard-earned money to read your stories? And how do you keep them coming back?
$2.99 is the price point at which authors will earn 70% royalties. A lot of authors are using that price point to start out to see what happens with sales; I’m going to ask you to consider price point carefully. If everyone is putting something up for $2.99, where’s the differentiation in the marketplace?
More and more I’m finding my clients raising their prices as a symbol of quality. I've experimented with pricing and I can honestly say that my sales have increased with the price point.
Perception is nine/tenths of reality.