Contrary to popular belief, we often judge books by their covers. By commissioning a tantalizing cover, you can quickly excite a reader to learn more about your story. But it’s not enough to just have a beautiful image splashed on the front. The cover and the target audience must be in tune, or your book will remain unread. Luckily, thanks to A/B testing, you can use science to optimize your content.
What Is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is when you take two or more variations of the same product and test them against each other. Using focus groups and a little bit of data analysis, you can see which interpretation is more appealing to customers. You can A/B test anything: your blog, author bio picture, and most importantly, cover art.
Taking this little step can let your book shine among the others. It may seem tempting to skip this extra step, but keeping track of graphic design trends as a whole and in your particular niche can be exhausting. You don’t want to find out your cover could have been more effective until after your release.
Why Should I Lean Into Visual Appeal?
You can craft the next Lord of the Rings with beautiful prose, great characters, and a description that can hook the most skeptical reader, but you are dead in the water without an adequate cover. If you are only going to release it in e-book format, don’t think you can skip this step either. If anything, an enticing cover is more important since a person’s eyes will most likely glaze over a blank thumbnail over something more compelling. A great cover should
- artistically demonstrate the emotions they are about to feel at a glance.
- give them subtle clues about themes.
- have a cohesive and psychologically effective color palette.
- easy to read.
- pleasing to the eye.
Your cover is more than that piece of cardboard that protects the pages; it is the center of your brand identity during marketing. It will be the center of any ads, your website, social media posts, and thumbnails.
If you have a dull cover, no one will click the link or turn the book around to find out more; they will move on to the next item that catches their eye. Let’s face it: Just because you are a writer does not mean you are versed in graphic design or marketing strategy. How do you go about overcoming this hurdle?
Getting Expert Help
If cover design is not in your wheelhouse, it is worth investing in having a professional take the lead. Companies like The Urban Writers don’t just ghostwrite; their talented staff also includes cover artists. They have their fingers on the pulse of current publishing trends and a big-picture idea of what designs are best for reader engagement.
You can commission multiple covers for the same book, all with their own revisions, and get into the weeds as to what makes the reader tick. Regardless of the number, having a sleek, aesthetically pleasing cover will help your book rise above the hundreds of thousands already out there.
Making the Most of Your Commission
To bring your cover to life, you need to decide on a few things so the artist can work their magic. In brief, you will provide:
- What type of format are you aiming for; whether it's an e-book or a paperback? The artist needs this information to create appropriate dimensions and maximize creativity.
- All the information you want on the cover: the title, author name, subtitle, etc.
- An overall breakdown of the book, including a brief synopsis, genre, themes, and target audience.
- The main themes you want the cover to feature.
- Any characters, as well as their physical descriptions, that you want to be included.
- Any ideas you want to incorporate, such as the style (do you want a drawing? illustration, or something more photorealistic), color palette, and tone?
It would behoove you to go to a bookstore or online and look at the covers of books in your genre and format aimed at your audience. Readers are creatures of habit, and if you stray too far from trends, they may be put off from the start.
Designing for Paperback vs. E-Book
If you are developing an e-book, your cover probably won’t need as much detail since they are often displayed as tiny thumbnails. Something simple and bold will most likely do the trick. Tiny details and lettering will probably not be very effective in this market.
When designing a physical book, you must consider who is buying it, as it is not only a story; it is a tangible possession that should fit their aesthetic. They probably want to display the book and feel good about reading it publicly.
A self-help book for men should probably avoid curved lettering in favor of something sleeker and sharper. Certain kinds of romance readers would probably not appreciate walking around with a book adorned with a photo of a shirtless cowboy. It is a balancing act to make your book stand out and be simple enough to be taken in quickly with the eyes and the soul.
The cover can have more details, such as small lettering and intricate design choices, but less can still be more, and you don’t want the first emotion to be confused when someone picks up your book.
After that, sit back and let the artist do their thing. You can end up with more than one cover you love or the same cover with slight variations. Either way, this is where A/B testing and comparative testing come into play.
Letting the Numbers Tell a Story and Boost Sales
With a bit of data analytics, your raw numbers can provide many insights. This can help you establish your brand identity and inform your writing style. You just need to be open to the results. The numbers don’t lie, but how you interpret the data can.
How Do I Go About Getting My Covers Tested?
If you already have a large following, the good news is that you can conduct this testing yourself. Simply go on your social media and tease the book covers. You can open your analytics and see which option has more user engagement.
If you need additional manpower, services like PickFu can come to the rescue and host your test, though there are pros and cons.
For the social media aspect, if you want to expand your audience, only reaching out to that audience might result in an echo chamber that does not cater to new audiences. Also, collecting demographic information might prove tricky. Likewise, with PickFu, not only do you have to pay for it, but the testers might not belong to your niche.
Hone In on Your Audience:
It does not matter if you commission the best cover designer on the planet; if there is a mismatch between who the cover appeals to and your target audience, you will never sell copies. After data analysis, you can make any revisions to the numbers. Pick the cover that appeals most to your target audience. You never know; a simple font choice or color scheme can make or break this.
You don’t just have your first launch to sell books. You have a paperback release, an audiobook release, and translations to expand your reach. Your original cover may not be as effective. You should consider getting A/B testing for each of these. While they are all important, adapting your cover to translation might be the trickiest to get right.
For paperbacks, you need to consider not only the front but also the back and the spine. A book that shines from the side and the front will entice more people to pick it up and give the description a read. A boring spine might as well be invisible on the shelf.
You may not know the intricacies of other cultures; for example, in Chinese culture, white is the color for mourning, and red writing is considered unlucky in more conservative attitudes. By A/B testing within this new potential market, you can open new revenue opportunities and not risk unintentionally committing a graphic design faux pas.
Let TUW Help You Put Your Best Foot Forward!
If you have a book you want to write, you have to invest in the visual aspect to reach your target audience before they peek inside. You don’t have to guess the whims and desires of a target or potential audience; let the numbers do the talking! Contact TUW today for everything from ghostwriting to cover design, so you can focus on storytelling.