Tips to Marketing Your Novel and Increasing Book Sales - #indieauthor

I put together some great tips about eBook cover design and how it ties into marketing to help indie authors sell more books...

I know how hard self-publishing is to do and there's so much to learn about the industry. New writers will make mistakes (I made quite a few when I was starting out) with "author branding" and their packaging (book covers), as well as how to promote their books. Everyone needs help once and awhile. And since indie authors need to wear so many hats nowadays, it can feel overwhelming.

If you're just starting out, or even if you've  already published a few books, but your sales are dismal, then it might be time to reevaluate your branding, which includes your book cover(s). Self-publishing can be an awesome and rewarding endeavor if you take the time to study the market and do lots of research. What I mean by research is to learn all you can about promotion and put together a marketing plan.

As a self-publisher, you are a BUSINESS. A brand. You are selling a product, and part of that is the packaging of your product (your wonderful book). A writer wants to publish something that they can be proud of...and make some money. 

Tip 1

The key to stickiness (getting readers to instantly recognize your books and become fans) is distinctive branding. Have a cover that matches the genre, but include your own unique fonts and author name on each cover. I personally feel it looks amateurish to use the same image or stock photo on all the covers in a series, but it appears professional to use all the same font styles and placement of text.

I realize that money is one of the biggest issues for most self-published authors, and custom book cover designs can cost hundreds of dollars, so a writer might decide to create their own cover to save money. But just because a writer can design their own book cover, doesn't mean they SHOULD if they really don't have any experience. 

One way to attract your target readership is to try to trigger emotional engagement. Most readers react when a brand or book cover makes them feel something and it sparks their interest. Make readers just have to find out more about your amazing story by just one glance at the cover.

(I apologize to any authors whose book covers that I'm using as examples on this post if I cause any offense. I meant no disrespect and I can offer you a free book cover if you want to test out a new design.)

Tip 2
Start thinking of your book cover as part of your marketing tools. You use it to promote your book and grab the attention of potential readers. The cover needs to look professional and convey the genre. The packaging of your product (the actual book) is important to get your audience interested and wanting to read your blurb, and then of course to buy the novel or short story. But if the packaging is misleading or looks amateurish, then you will lose sales. The point is to do what you lovetelling storieswhile making some money, too.

There are a lot of sites that like to mock bad book covers, but to me that isn't helping the writer. Offering constructive criticism on what might improve the design would be much more helpful.  

These are a few popular sites that mock book covers:

Lousy Book Covers

However, unless you do some serious research on how to create compelling book cover designs, I recommend buying an inexpensive premade cover, or searching for an artist who will work with writers on a budget that will creative a design that is "genre specific."

A writer works hard on the "inside" of a book, so they should ensure that the "outside" is just as awesome and represents the genre.  

Tip 3

Keep the design somewhat simple. A simple design is more effective. In a fast-paced, visually mixed book cover market, readers should experience moments of visual interest that cause them to automatically gravitate toward your product (book)

Sure, there are a ton of great covers that include a lot of different elements and images blended together (often times not), but the focus should be on one key image in the design and not cluttered with too many other images or colors or different fonts.

For example, this cover for THE SECRET OF CLOVER LANE by Marina Richards. I like it, but the skull in the upper right hand-corner doesn't work and neither do the fonts, which don't fit the trends in genre design. The colors aren't working, either. I think some blue overlay might help it look more professional.
This book sounds really good and I enjoy reading short horror stories, but I would be put off by the cover and most likely, keep searching on places like Amazon for other books.

On the right-side, I created a mockup that is similar in design, but with more eye-catching fonts and colors that better fit the YA horror/paranormal genre. (If Marina Richards wants a new cover, I'd be happy to design one for her and I meant no disrespect.)

My advise is not to make the cover too busy with too many distracting images or elements. And try to blend all images together so the cover looks balanced. Make sure the text is centered because it is much more appealing to the eye. Darken any areas to help the title stand out.

*Tip: As you're searching for a premade book cover or if having one designed, please keep in mind that the models on the cover don't need to look exactly like your hero or heroine, but just enough so the reader can form their own image of your characters in their mind.  

Tip 4

I hate to sound like a broken record, but do yourself a favor and go search for other books in your genre. (I have a longer post on this subject to explain about "branding" HERE.) Check out what's popular on goodreads and in the top 100 bestseller lists on Amazon. Study the designs of those popular, bestsellers and have a similar design

Also, take a good look at traditionally published books in your genre and sub-genres. Study the font styles used and the placement of the text, and the size. Get an idea of the color schemes used on the covers. 

For example this book cover for, JOURNEY BETWEEN WORLDS by Sylvia Engdahl doesn't fit the genre of Sci-Fi romance. I personally love this genre, but this DIY book cover would make me pass up this novel, and probably miss out on a great story. The placement of the text isn't centered, which is more appealing to the eye, and the font styles look too generic. (Also, the blurb (which is way too long) indicates that the characters are either young adult or new adult, 18 to 19 years old, but the models on the cover look like adults in their thirties.)

I think a cover like the one I designed on the right-side,  might work better for a heavy romance / young adult science fiction novel.

Tip 5

Consider posting your book cover on writing forums like the Writer's Cafe at kboards to get some feedback on your design. Find out if it's working and what about the fonts or text or images might be turning readers off. Make sure to list the genre. 

Take a deep breath and don't get offensive by the feedback, but really try to look at it from a reader's perspective. Read some books on marketing and study packaging a product for consumers.
For example, this book cover (not sure why it has 2 titles) SILENT CATS DEADLY DANCE by J.D. Wallace uses the wrong font styles and the placement of the text looks DIY. Reading the blurb (product description) it sounds like an interesting read, but I would keep looking at other books in this genre because the cover looks self-made.

The goal of the cover is only to entice a reader to want to find out more about your amazing story and represent the genre. It is that simple.
Tip 6

Try not to make it too complicated. And don't use a hand-drawn illustration as the cover. Stock images are a much better choice.

For example, looking at this book cover THE BEAST by A. R. Davis I can't tell if it is a horror story or a children's book or what the genre it is supposed to represent. It is listed as folklore (a retelling of Beauty and the Beast) and has romance, but the cover looks like horror to me. So I think the book fits the paranormal romance genre much better, but the cover doesn't work at all.

When I searched for Beauty and the Beast type books, most of the covers all had dark blue hues and vivid red shades, featuring a couple on the cover (a normal man and not a scary beast) or just a woman.

The point is, writers need to do as much research as possible on book cover design, marketing, and branding before choosing a book cover and publishing their work. 

So use this advice to buy a premade cover that reflects your genre or get a book cover designed that will attract your target readership instantly. 

(If any of the authors featured on this post wants a new cover, I'd be happy to design one at no charge (free!) and I meant no disrespect.)
As always, I wish everyone much success on their writing journey!


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