Thursday 15 September 2011

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover?

Please let me introduce to you my very first guest blogger who is a fabulous author and also a dear friend, Kenneth Rosenberg.

Thanks so much to Janice for letting me guest post on her blog this week!  I thought I’d talk about something that she and I have in common as “indie” authors, and that is cover design.  Or more specifically, title, cover, blurb, marketing and everything else that independent authors have to take care of all on their own!

Followers on this blog know about Janice’s recent cover re-design and branding effort.  She’s done a terrific job tying together her cover for Bagpipes and Bullshot with her forthcoming Reaching for the Stars, as well as this blog. 

For a traditionally published author, this is the type of thing that a publishing company would normally take care of, but not so for us indies!  We have to figure this stuff out all on our own.

When I came out with my first novel No Cure for the Broken Hearted at the beginning of this year, I came up with the title, wrote the blurb and designed the cover.  I was happy with the outcome, though I still didn’t know what to expect when it finally went live. 

I tried to temper my expectations.  Would I sell a few hundred copies?  A few thousand?  I had no idea.  Maybe I’d earn enough money to buy myself a cup of coffee every day?  It ends up, the book took off almost from the start and managed around 25,000 copies sold in the first six months.

When my next book came out last month, I tried to temper my expectations again, though this time it wasn’t so easy.  Even if I only sold half as many copies as the first, it would be a great success.  I came up with the title Sweet Ophelia and the Tinseltown Blues.  I thought it reflected the off-beat style of the book; a story of love and redemption set in Hollywood.  I designed a cover with a face representing the character Ophelia.  The book went live and… crickets.

In the entire first week that my book was on sale, I only had one sale on Amazon UK, and that was to Janice! (Thanks, BTW).  In the next three weeks, I managed about one sale per week.  Sales on Amazon U.S. were only slightly better.

So what went wrong?  Was it the title?  The cover?  The blurb?  The sample?  It was hard to say for sure.  Perhaps the book just isn’t connecting with readers, but I feel pretty good about it myself.  There’s nothing I can or would change about the book at this point. 

And so I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to come up with a new title and cover.  This is one of the great things about independent publishing.  Maybe I don’t have a big publishing company behind me, test marketing covers and titles and doing promotions, but on the flip side, I can make changes to this sort of thing at will.

A publishing company would have a print run, and ads running, and hard copies out to reviewers.  Once a title was set, that would be it.  Writers like Janice and myself can make changes to these things almost instantly.  We can see what works and what doesn’t, and move ahead accordingly.

So far I’ve been throwing around ideas and bouncing them off of friends and family, but now I thought I’d throw it out to readers here to see what people think.  Should I give it some more time with the current cover and title?  Or change it ASAP?  Any ideas for new titles? 

I look forward to your comments, and remember, honesty is the best policy!

Kenneth Rosenberg's Blog
Kenneth's books on Amazon UK
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