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  • Bad Book Cover: 9 Ways to Ruin Your Marketing

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    Books - Perfect Bound, Self-publishing

    A smart book marketing campaign is only as good as the book itself. If you have a bad book cover, a talented publicist or a creative advertising push can only do so much. For some self-publishing authors, book cover design is an afterthought or a task that authors choose to do themselves to save money.

    But a bad book cover that looks homemade, unprofessional, mismatched to the genre, or stands out from other books in a surprising way can tank your marketing efforts. Don’t sabotage your marketing campaign by skimping on a fantastic book cover or you might set yourself up for one of these disastrous situations that all self-published authors can, and should, avoid at all costs.

    1. A bad book cover influences reviewers.

    One of the best ways to market a book is through organic book reviews. But when the first thing a reviewer sees is a bad book cover, they may decide to skip over that book in favor of a book with a professionally designed cover. If they do choose to review a book with an bad book cover or one that appears homemade, they may judge the book more critically.

    Seeing a bad book cover can give reviewers the expectation that the book’s author, who presumably signed off on the bad book cover, will likely also produce a low-quality book.

    2. Bookstores like to carry books that look professionally made.

    Retailers want readers to be excited about the books stocked on their shelves, so they will hold book publishers of every kind to a high standard. Self-publishing authors with bad book covers that don’t wow bookstores are unlikely to earn shelf space alongside books that utilize expert book cover designers. Booksellers know that readers won’t often pick up a book with a bad book cover, so stocking them on their shelves won’t lead to big sales for the retailer.

    3. Libraries may snub a book with a bad book cover.

    One of the popular ways to market a self-published book is to appeal to libraries. But presenting a book with a bad book cover is unlikely to impress the acquisition staff of the local library. Working with thousands of books every year, library staff are experienced enough to know that a book with a bad book cover will not attract potential readers so they may want to stock a book that they anticipate will generate low interest with their readers.

    4. Your book will be skipped over by magazine editors seeking the next new book.

    Publicists and marketing professionals often seek out magazine placement opportunities for new authors. Magazine editors regularly seek out suggestions and submissions for the “new products” section in their publications. And sending off a book blurb along with a crisp photo of the book cover can launch an author’s marketing campaign into the stratosphere when a magazine’s circulation is in the thousands or beyond.

    But magazines are a visual medium, so the book cover needs to look great for an editor to jump on the opportunity to include a hot new author’s work in their periodical. A ho-hum design, boring graphics, or strange design choices may make the selection process easy for the editor to choose a more traditionally designed book. Unfortunately, a smart book blurb is not enough to snag a book editor’s attention if the book’s cover doesn’t meet literary expectations.

    5. You may be embarrassed in front of other authors.

    Authors who self-publish rely on different strategies to hear feedback on their work, and author conferences offer writers the perfect opportunity to learn from their peers. Submitting a homemade book cover to a panel of experienced writers can be a humiliating experience for an author because published authors know what it takes to make a book appealing to readers.

    Their potentially scathing remarks about unprofessional book covers can sting when a writer has only relied on their own perspective when creating a book cover instead of seeking expert input and guidance before their book has been finalized and sent to the printer. Consider instead getting this type of feedback before printing your book from writer’s circles, author conferences, or even genre enthusiasts and authors over social media channels to save your marketing campaign from being sabotaged by a poorly designed cover.

    6. Your book cover won’t make the cut on television.

    When the opportunity to speak about your book on a local or national television show arises, authors do (and should!) jump at the chance to participate in this type of free, organic marketing. Talking about your book, giving potential readers insight into the author, and leaving readers with a taste of your writing style are all excellent opportunities to market your book.

    But a bad book cover might not make the final cut of the segment when design-savvy producers review your book’s cover. Not only will this present a huge missed opportunity for authors to provide readers with a memorable visual of their work, but readers may ultimately suspect that something is amiss when the book itself is omitted from the program. Planting that seed of doubt in the reader’s mind about the validity of the book or the author can end up being a marketing failure instead of a springboard to success for a new or unknown author.

    7. A bad book cover will get bad press.

    The adage no press is bad press is just wrong, especially when it comes to poor book reviews. When the first time a potential reader hears an author’s name it is accompanied by a negative review of their work, reputations can be damaged before one word in the book has even been read. Reviewers can make or break the impression readers have on a new author, but book sites like lousybookcovers.com, unfortunately, can single out books for their awkward or just plain bad book covers.

    No author wants to end up on a site that skewers books and how they look, especially fledgling writers hoping to make their mark in the literary world. Cheap Photoshop, basic graphics, boring fonts, and covers that are hard to decipher all are targets on these types of websites, and with the option for anyone to submit a bad cover to be reviewed, self-publishing authors should be wary of DIYing their book cover to avoid this unseemly type of press that can quickly sabotage a marketing campaign.

    8. Poorly done book covers can keep a book off the shelves of big box stores.

    One of the primary functions of a marketing campaign is to sell books so making agreements with retailers of all sizes to stock a title is a massive win for an author. Outside of bookstores and online retailers, big box stores are the perfect place for a new book to gain traction with a wide audience. However, managers overseeing new or local product placement may be hesitant to sell a book that has a cover that does not appear professional, regardless of the contents of the book.

    Self-publishing authors and their publicists seeking placement in a big box store compete with the marketing departments of traditional and indie publishers with in-house art departments and professional cover design experts, making it unlikely that a store manager will choose a good book with a bad cover over another good book with a beautiful cover design.

    9. Event planners may decline to buy your book.

    A fantastic option to market your book, when the occasion arises, is to speak on your book’s topic at an in-person event, conference, or meeting. Oftentimes, instead of payment, authors can request that the event planners purchase a bulk buy of the author’s books to give out to the event participants.

    But when a book cover doesn’t reflect the professionalism of the author, the topic, or the event, the event planner may decide to forgo the meaningful purchase to avoid presenting a book with a look that does not meet their standards. Losing a bulk book purchase can be a devasting missed opportunity for a self-published author hoping to build their reputation as a writer.

    Marketing with a Beautiful Book Cover

    A well-done book cover can be a boon to a marketing campaign, doing the work of capturing a potential reader’s attention with the right graphics, colors, fonts, and style. Using a cover design expert can save you heartache, stress, and potential loss of book sales in the long run, counteracting the relatively small investment required to ensure your book’s cover looks just as professional as those turned out by traditional publishers.

    Working with a printer like Dazzle Printing is perfect for self-publishing authors who want to have their book professionally printed.


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