So, you’ve decided to self-publish, and you’ve done your homework.
You’ve read every social media post, magazine article and blog about
what it takes to be a success. You know you need a good story—check.
You hired a great editor—check. You used a slew of beta readers, some
of whom even became part of your wonderful street team—check, check.
You spent the money for a top-notch formatter to make your digital and
print interiors shine—check. You hired a great cover artist, wrote a
thrilling back cover blurb, took a marvelous author photo—check, check
You started your pre-marketing well in advance
of your release, and you are a marketing machine once the book goes
live, but six months later, you’re noticing a ton of books returned
partly read. What went wrong? One clue could be in your packaging.
Let’s say you pick up a box of cereal based on the
delicious photo of strawberries and golden flakes on the front. You get
your bowl and spoon ready, set the milk out. Anticipation builds as you
open the box and prepare to pour. But as the bowl begins to fill, what
you see instead of strawberries and sweet flakes is plain, unsweetened
You’d be disappointed, right? You wanted sweet
strawberries, but if you had wanted bran, you’d be happy. There’s
nothing wrong with either product, but you didn’t get what you were
Now look at your cover, from the photos to the blurb. Is
your packaging selling what your reader should expect? Sure, you have a
beautiful cover, artfully done, that makes readers want to click the
“buy” button, but does it give them the right impression of the genre,
mood and character of your story?
Does your blurb suggest thriller instead of romantic
suspense? Does your cover art say romantic fiction instead of
non-fiction memoir? Making sure your reader gets what he expects is the
first step to reader satisfaction.
That doesn’t mean you should tell your whole story in
either the blurb or the cover art, and it doesn’t mean that truth in
advertising is more important than a beautiful, artful covers that make
readers click “buy.” It means choosing artwork, colors, and fonts that
let readers know what to expect.
The best tip I can offer is to make sure your cover artist
reads your work. Artists who read the manuscript can then suggest a
direction, colors, and artwork that will sell your story. They can make
suggestions for changes to your vision, when needed, and work with you
to develop the perfect cover to draw in your reader—the one who will
finish your story and look for more.
In the long-term, it’s not about just selling your book,
it’s about building your audience. Find a cover artist who will help
you do that, and you’ll find it makes all the difference.