Never judge a book by its cover. But when you see a list of possibly thousands of books and all you can see is a thumbnail picture, how else can you judge what is worth perusing further? In a virtual world, there is no bookshelf, no shop, no physical caressing of a book – checking the blurb, feeling the thickness, maybe reading the first paragraph – all you have to go on is that tiny picture.
So make it count. Make that thumbnail image as enticing as you possibly can. You want your prospective customer to click on it to get to your blurb or description. Spend some time in a real bookshop if you can find one these days. The supermarket will do, but it won’t give the range and variety of books. Look at the best-sellers shelves. What works? What makes you want to pick the book up? Look at the way different genres are packaged. How does chick-lit differ from – say – Martina Cole? Then you need to find a cover image that works as a thumbnail as well as at paperback size, so anything fussy or too detailed is out. Your aim is to make your cover fit in enough so it’s familiar to a buyer who reads that genre, but stand out enough from the others to be noticed. My original cover was done by a talented friend of mine. It looked fabulous at book size, but at thumbnail size, the detail disappeared and it stopped working. I have a new cover that was designed by a professional book cover designer and I’m really pleased with it. It’s modern, commercial and says what I want it to say.
With the best cover you can give it, how do you get people to see it? Now here you would think an ebook is at a disadvantage – after all you have no physical shelf space to loiter in. But in some ways you may actually be better off than a traditionally-published book, whose shelf-life might quite literally be measured in weeks before it’s consigned to the dumper bins of history for evermore. The shelf space you’re aiming for with an ebook (at least one published on kindle) is the Amazon listing, where your book will stay as long as it is selling enough to remain there. This where tagging comes in – add tags to your book that will help readers find it amongst all the other books – my book is tagged with key words like “thriller”, “crime”, “drugs” and “heroin”. If your readers also tag your book, it will start showing up in lists according to the tags, once you reach the top 100 in any category.
Amazon ranks are calculated hourly, I believe, so if all your friends and family want to buy your book, co-ordinate it and get them all to buy at the same time. With any luck your book will shoot up the ranks. Not that it’s something I’ve been able to do since my family don’t read my writing. Sometimes life would be so much easier if I wrote chick-lit, but it wouldn’t be half as much fun.