Fiction or Non Fiction – To Picture or Not Picture A Book Cover

As a self publisher I have to ask myself all the time, what is the best way I can optimize the books, especially the covers for selling.  Since most of my sales are from the internet, I need to have something that potential readers can see.  Basically, I have boiled it down to trying to just use text for the book covers and whatever colors I think will go well with the book.

If you take a look at the books that are shamelessly on this page, you will notice that I chose primary or basic colors with simple lettering.  Why?  On the online booksites and on the web, the small images that come up in the links, pages, etc are only going to register briefly on somebody.  I want them to know what it is that I am selling.  In the case of my Crazy Pineapple 8b book, I experimented with pineapple cover books – which looked really cool – but were terrible to look at when shrunk down to smaller sizes.

My fiction books are another story.  Fiction sometimes needs covers to tell a story. For my book, Clean, A Tale of the Inappropriate Library, I went ahead and had the water spirit all over the book and the bear headed woman cleaning the kitchen sums up the bear spirit.

For non-fiction, people just want the facts. Like a police officer at a crime scene, they aren’t interested in embellishment. They want to get the information that they are looking for, pay for it and leave. Fiction readers like to linger, look at covers and if my books ever make it to bookstore shelves (rare but it happens) people can thumb through the cover and it may catch their eye.

It is important to remember that even though we are a visual society, it is still easier to communicate very complex ideas through text. I haven’t seen a picture book or video that can clearly describe open heart surgery or even replacing a car engine without some kind of text to help tell you what is going on.

Moving forward from there, it is an easy jump to make my non-fiction books generally picture free. I have thought about adding a picture but I can live without the vanity. For the curious, for a “more balder” picture of me when I shaved my head for Halloween (don’t ask), you can look at the sidebar for the Kim Greenblatt page to see an image of me. My daughter, Arianna, is far cuter and easier on the eyes than I am.

In the meantime, if you are self-publishing, think about your market and what you are trying to sell. If you are promoting an adult book on relationships, maybe an image of a woman’s legs might help sales. If it is a book on Craps, maybe a pair of dice but I wouldn’t go overboard. It still may be hard to read and people might confuse legs with scissors and the dice may look like a pair of square eyes!

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Questions or comments? Let me know about them! Thanks for taking the time to visit and for more information or to get back to the beginning of the blog, go here.

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