How important is the cover?

 These are two very different covers for the same book. Which would you choose?

The first is from a photo my son took for me. I persuaded my publishers to use it because I thought the round hole in the oblong, the hard stone amongst the soft greens showed the sense of not fitting in that both my main characters felt. But I now believe my thinking was too airy-fairy and didn’t give the reader any idea of genre or content. Clearly, a book that is essentially about relationships should at least show people on the cover.

Once Removed is due to be released as a paperback on the 21st September and happily my publisher, Crooked Cat, agreed that this offered the perfect opportunity to make a change. Having failed myself, I was delighted and relieved when Steph came up with this wonderful alternative.

But was the problem just the cover art or was the blurb also a factor in slow sales of the ebook? My son tried to warn me that the original blurb gave too much away so I took this opportunity to tweak that, too. And because Once Removed has been out as an ebook since May, we were also able to add a few phrases from some of the many great reviews.

On a few of the excellent reviews, people had commented that they’d been wary of choosing this book (see examples below) but all went on to give 5 stars.

 I thought that I’d maybe find the subject of self-harming in this novel a bit depressing, but on the contrary, KB Walker managed to deal with it very sensitively and also keep me gripped right to the end.

I must admit that I was kind of skeptical going into this 133 page book that it would be as good as the reviews that it was receiving on Goodreads. Reviewers were dead on. In this short book, the author was able to write a gut-wrenching story, which got into my heart!

 Read it on a recommendation from a friend and although the book is a little different to what I normally read I couldn’t put it down.

I have never read a book tackling the sensitive issues surrounding Self Harm particularly within a novel. KB Walker’s debut novel was well written and though one could be forgiven for expecting it to be either depressing or distressing for a reader I found quite the opposite.

For a relatively unknown author, tackling a difficult subject, I’m hoping a new cover and blurb will tempt a few more readers to give Once Removed a try.

What do you think? What affect does the cover, blurb or reviews have on your choice of reading material?

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan Needle
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 10:58:21

    Fascinating stuff, and I’m still not sure which cover I prefer. But then, I’m still not sure if your name is Kim or Kimm – there are so many unintended ambiguities in print. As to buying on a cover or a blurb, I think it only effects me if they are truly feeble, or bad, and these are not. Information is given, interest is aroused. Good. And the best sort of reviews are thoughtful, quiet ones – not shouters (which tend to make me suspicious!) Second thoughts. I think I prefer the first cover, but I take the point about a person. Hard, isn’t it?

    Reply

  2. Kimm
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 11:26:56

    Thanks, Jan, for visiting and for your thoughtful reply. My first book was a self-published memoir, which sold quite well but mainly through speaking engagements and word of mouth. Selling an ebook via social networking has meant learning a whole new range of skills. I’m hoping when the paperback comes out I can apply my previous learning.
    Kim or Kimm? On my birth certificate it’s Kimm but even my brother gets it wrong so I don’t let it worry me.

    Reply

  3. Joanna (Lazuli Portals)
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 11:52:02

    I found I had quite a strong preference for your second cover, the one incorporating a person. I do find a good cover will encourage me to read more about the book before clicking away (particularly if it’s just a small thumbnail in Amazon’s “Also Boughts” for example.)

    However the reviews and blurb will also affect my decision – and if I like the look of the book but my credit card is complaining, then I’ll download a Kindle sample so that I’m reminded to check it out again later on! (I do wish our Kindle sales stats would show sample downloads as a measure of interest!)

    Good luck, Kimm!

    Reply

  4. Mandy Baggot (@mandybaggot)
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 12:06:46

    Hi Kimm

    The second cover is much better. I wrote an article about covers the other day for a date on my blog tour later this month. Covers are more important that the blurb because you need to attract that initial attention. If the cover isn’t liked enough by the reader they won’t even bother to click to read the blurb. Having extracts from reviews is a great idea – readers take more notice of these than they do of the actual product description!

    Hope it goes really well!

    Mandy

    Reply

    • Kimm
      Sep 05, 2012 @ 12:29:09

      Thanks, Mandy. I think you’re right. Going by various conversations in my readers group, if a cover doesn’t draw the reader they don’t get as far as the blurb. And I am also influenced by review quotes on the cover.

      Reply

  5. Kimm
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 12:26:37

    Thanks, Joanna. I’ve never tried the sample downloads, hmmm sounds like a great idea.

    Reply

  6. carol
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 12:45:34

    This is how I see ebook sales, purely looking at the product from a marketing point of view(buyers instead of readers) and presuming the contented is written, edited and formatted to professional standard. I think the important points in catching a buyer’s attention are cover, blurb, initial sample pages, reviews, in that order.

    People say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but buyers do. A professionally looking cover indicates someone who would also have paid attention inside the cover. People are more inclined to share an attractive or standout cover, placing the product in front of a larger potential market. In the land of online sales where the internet is saturated with amazing amateur artwork and stunning book covers, an author needs their book to stand out for all the right reasons. Blub and content don’t matter if you can’t catch the buyer’s eye in the first place.

    Next is the blub because once you have the buyer’s attention, you want to keep it. The blub shouldn’t give away twists but should reveal enough to wet the buyer’s appetite for more. This leads them to a sale(if lucky) or the sample in a lot of cases. More and more people aren’t relying on reviews, especially now with sock puppet, friend and family five stars and paid reviews abound. So those sample pages in any book better be good, enough to pique the buyer’s interest and end at a point the buyer is left hanging enough to want to click that buy button.

    Reviews are important on the sellers site, as I said above, less important than they used to be. Off seller site reviews are exposure so they are as important as ever but some people are still wary. The other still needs to be there to close the deal.

    With all that in mind. 🙂 I prefer the second cover. The first cover immediately makes me think of standing stones and celtic mythology. It’s confusing with the blurb, although I love the image itself. The second is colored beautifully, the starkness and the person walking alone conveys a mood reflected in the title. Perfect match, so now you have my attention. It’s simple and professional looking. The blub is intriguing, together with the endorsements, it grips me. If the source of the endorsements are other authors or well know bloggers, I would add the name. People are more inclined to believe an endorsement with a name attached, especially if it’s someone they’ve heard of.

    Altogether I think it’s a clearer representation of your work and should gather you a whole heap of new readers. Best of luck. 🙂

    Reply

    • Kimm
      Sep 06, 2012 @ 08:54:04

      Thanks, Carol, for your informative reply. Having a buyers-eye-view is very helpful. You have to be even more aware than the general reader of what that reader looks for.

      Reply

  7. carol
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 12:48:25

    I meant this is how I view ebook and online books sales. Urgh. Not had my coffee yet. 🙂

    Reply

  8. yasminselena
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 13:23:16

    Totally agree with Mandy, the cover is a biggie.
    I always judge books by covers if I don’t already know the author. The second one is better in my opinion. It’s just more striking. Can I suggest to you that you see how that title looks without italics?
    I am a huge fan of book samples and reviews that actually tell you something about the book even if it’s critical. And love Kindle book samples, they are a godsend and I would encourage all writers to tell prospective readers to make use them, as ultimately what we love to read is so subjective and we do want readers to be happy with their reads. I would be happier to take a risk with a new writer on a suck and see it basis if it was offered to me. Good luck with the paperback : )

    Reply

    • Kimm
      Sep 06, 2012 @ 08:41:08

      Thanks, Yasmin. My publisher has chosen the italics and has been so good about the new cover I don’t want to make any waves. It costs in time to design, photos to purchase and you also have to have a new ISBN number so I am very grateful.
      Your cover for Gunshot Glitter is lovely. Hope it’s doing well.

      Reply

  9. DelSheree
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 14:16:59

    I think the sepia colored cover has a much stronger appeal. The view of only a partial scene lends mystery to the book, and it’s an interesting image to start with. The coloring is much more dramatic in that one as well and I think it will catch more readers eyes.

    Reply

  10. Trackback: International Giveaway! Paperbacks and Swag/Storm of Arranon by R.E.Sheahan « fuonlyknew

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