Why Book Covers Are So Vital
by Brian Cormack Carr
I recently self-published my first book How To Find Your Vital Vocation: A Practical Guide To Discovering Your Career Purpose And Getting A Job You Love, and I asked my blog readers to help me choose the book’s cover. I knew the cover would be a vitally important factor in the book’s success, so I wanted to get it right.
It’s important to bear in mind that the cover is likely to be the first thing a potential reader of your book will encounter. In today’s online world, that cover has to stand out even when it’s in thumbnail size on a computer screen. You want your cover to attract the reader, not repel them.
Get Professional Help
For that reason, I strongly recommend that all self-published authors hire a professional cover designer (unless they themselves have very professional graphic design skills). Professional cover design doesn’t have to cost the earth, and it really will help your book to hold its own against the competition from traditional publishing houses. After all the hard work you put into writing your book, you don’t want to stop it in its tracks with an amateurish cover.
Don’t worry that hiring a professional designer will take away from your influence on the book. Far from it – a good cover designer will work with you to ensure you get the cover you want.
My cover designer and I sifted through a range of different images that we felt might suit the topic of my book – job hunting and career change – and then I chose three or four images I particularly liked. Using these images, she mocked up a range of potential covers for me to have a look at. I whittled the choices down to two, but discovered at that point I was stuck! I just couldn’t choose, because they were both great options.
How I Chose My Cover – and Got Readers To Help
I turned the choice (which was between a cover featuring some cartoon people and one featuring an elephant on a tightrope) over to my blog readers, mailing list subscribers and social media followers. Effectively, I “crowd sourced” opinions on which cover would most attract them. I made this a competition – everyone who participated was in with a chance of winning a signed copy of the paperback version of the book.
This was useful in a couple of ways. It helped me assess which cover would be most attractive to a potential reader, and it also served as a “trailer” to my audience for the book’s imminent release.
As you can see, my audience chose the cover featuring the elephant. The choice wasn’t unanimous, but the elephant was a very clear winner, and it turns out that the people who like it do so for many different reasons.
Some see this amazing creature as a symbol of strength, wisdom and purpose. Some see the tightrope as a sign of the balancing act we all must perform on the journey to our ideal work. Some feel the umbrella indicates hope and is representative of the tools we need to help us along the way (especially if we fall). One person told me the image made him think of the precarious nature of the job market nowadays, while another said it made her feel like anything was possible if we’re really using our inborn talents. Some people see the elephant as unhappy and in desperate need of careers advice, while others feel this as an elephant that has clearly found its Vital Vocation!
I love the image because it seems to say something relevant to every eye that sees it, and that feels right for a book that’s all about charting your own individual path to the work you love.
So – what does the elephant on my cover say to you?
Brian Cormack Carr is a writer, certified career coach and chief executive of BVSC The Centre for Voluntary Action, one of the UK’s leading local charities. He trained in personnel management with Marks & Spencer plc and gained an MA (Hons) in English Literature and Language from the University of Aberdeen. Brian has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of personal development and leadership, and has helped hundreds of clients, readers and workshop participants to find fulfilling work and a renewed sense of purpose.
Websites: www.cormackcarr.com ; www.vitalvocation.com
Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.