Is Your Book Superior?

This is my Book Marketing Tip of the Day for October 13, 2012:

If you prove one superior thing about your book, readers will believe the whole book is superior.

The human mind is always making associations, in order to make snap decisions from the overload of information it faces every day.

This is a primal instinct. We learned this because eating poisonous food will kill us. Spoiled food becomes poisonous. We quickly learn that poisonous and spoiled food smells bad, tastes bitter, has a greyish or greenish color. But then again, so does broccoli, which is good for us. So too, spinach. When we are kids, it is hard for us to like smelly, bitter or green foods, for this reason.

However, once we begin to associate vegetables with nutrition, we can overcome this instinct.

A reader comes to learn that unknown writers tend to write poorly, that their stories are cliché, and that they do little to no research.

New writers are judged by the company they keep, unfortunately. Once a writer proves that she is not a terrible writer, the association is broken, and the author’s books are that much easier to sell.

Better yet, there is a strange connection in the mind. If there is a single facet of a thing that is good, then the whole thing is good, the mind figures.

This is why our leaders tend to be good looking, healthy, well-dressed. If a person shows positive physical features, we assume that the person is also honest, trustworthy and capable.

It works with books, too. Compare these two covers:

Slaying Season by James Laabs

Slaying Season by James Laabs

The White Angel Murder by Victor Methos

The White Angel Murder by Victor Methos


Quick, just by looking at these two covers, decide which one is a self-published book and which one is published by a big publishing company.

Are you sure?

It’s a trick question. Both books are self-published mysteries. Both writers are experienced book authors and novelists. Both write fairly well. Both tell a good story.

The only difference is the quality of the cover. Even though both have images and titles that clearly scream “Murder Mystery Novel,” and both are photographic in nature, the one on the left—Slaying Season by James Laabs—is clearly self-published. It is an amateurish cover design, and an amateurish photograph. It looks like this is the author’s girlfriend taking a nap in the park. By association, a crappy cover means a crappy story.

The book on the right—The White Angel Murder by Victor Methos—has a professionally designed cover. It’s sharp. It draws the reader in. It looks professionally published. Because it has a “great” cover, the human mind is fooled into thinking this is a “great” novel.

I have not read either book. I picked two books I know very little about for a reason. If I were to choose which book to read, I would pick The White Angel Murder. It just seems like that one is the best use of my recreational free time.

I am not the only one. In a little over a year, there are only three reviews on the Slaying Season Amazon page. On the other hand, The White Angel Murder Amazon page sports 46 reviews, in only half the time.

People judge a book by its cover. A great cover is one way a book appears to be a superior product. The opening lines, the title, or even the text typeface can also tell a reader that this will be a good book.

Design generates the illusion that this will be a great book, and this will drive the book sales.

Of course, the author has to deliver on this promise or soon the book will stop selling as word gets out in the form of bad reviews.

But a well written book will not sell if the design of it does not make the promise that it is a well written book. A bad cover design makes the promise that this is self-published drivel written by a fly-by-night hack, regardless of the actual writing quality.

Rozansky’s First Law of Marketing is Crap don’t sell! I guess a good corollary is that if it looks like crap, and smells like crap, people will believe it is crap, even if it is actually gold. However, if it looks like gold and feels like gold, people will buy it, even it is still just crap. I guess I could call this the Maltese Falcon Corollary to Rozansky’s First Law of Marketing.

What examples of really bad book covers can you share?

Recommended reading: Rozansky’s 7 Laws of Marketing

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About David Rozansky

Publisher of Flying Pen Press; Author's Business Manager; Author of Fishnets & Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book; Aviator; Author; Adventurer.
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