Home » Covers, Ebooks, Marketing » Sucessful Seduction and the Naked Truth: Rethink Cover Design for a Small, Small World

Sucessful Seduction and the Naked Truth: Rethink Cover Design for a Small, Small World

30 January 2013

by Elle Lothlorien

  • Designing a kick-ass book cover  for the Kindle Store is one of the most valuable marketing and discoverability opportunities your self-published book is likely to have.
  • When designing an e-book cover, you MUST assume that every potential reader will see it first as a thumbnail on Amazon’s suggestive selling ribbon and not as a full-sized graphic.

Attracting readers to your book on the suggestive selling ribbon requires rethinking book cover design completely–so much so that it may even be upsetting, especially for authors who are or were at one time traditionally published. Indeed, hearing that cover features such as title art and the author’s name—features that are often critical for a book on a bookstore shelf—simply aren’t that important on a thumbnail and can be greatly reduced in size in most cases (I’ll discuss the exceptions to that rule in a moment) leads to much rending of garments and tearing of hair.

“What?” people shriek. “You’re saying my title isn’t important? You want me to make my title smaller? But how will anyone be able to read it?”

  • No one can read the book title on a thumbnail image.
  • No one can see the author’s name on a thumbnail image.

Read it all it’s worth it Digital Book World

Guest posted by Barbara Morgenroth

Covers, Ebooks, Marketing

21 Comments to “Sucessful Seduction and the Naked Truth: Rethink Cover Design for a Small, Small World”

  1. “No one can read the book title on a thumbnail image.”

    Waaaaay false. I see the point of the article, and agree with it for the most part, but let’s not get crazy here. The title is still extremely important.

    • I suppose it helps if your title is short.

      • Shorter than “The Curious Life of Schrodinger’s Cat,” anyway. That would barely fit on a t-shirt. :-)

        But, yes, having a title like ORPHEUS gives me a lot more leeway.

        • Shorter than “The Curious Life of Schrodinger’s Cat,” anyway.

          I would just put ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’ in a big font, and ‘The Curious Life of’ in a small font. That should achieve the objective without taking up too much space.

      • I had to retitle my romantic comedy Disconnected to Nothing Serious because I couldn’t fit it on the cover and be readable in thumbnail size.

    • Where she lost me was when she said that the idea of a large legible title was a feature of print books — sorry, no. That is not true at all.

      Print covers were able to get away with beautiful designs and tiny tiny print.

      I’m going to go and read her whole article (haven’t yet) because it sounds like she has some interesting ideas, and covers certainly ARE in flux. But from what I see here, I don’t have a lot of faith in this person’s understanding of the whys and wherefores of cover design. More like a creative outsider with new ideas.

  2. I went and tested it out, and I could read most of the small titles. So, I agree, this is false.

    However, I don’t think the size of the title and the author’s name are as important as many authors want them to be. I think the design, colors, and something identifiable (such as a person) in the image are. There are authors who claim that the author’s name should be huge because people buy by brand. I disagree. I think people use direct search for brand, so the size of the name isn’t important. Plus, Amazon regularly sends notices of new titles by your most read authors. They will find it anyway. But, when it comes to finding new authors, people judge by genre, design, and blurb more than name or title.

    This may very well be somewhat dependent on the generation to which you are marketing, but I think wanting your name to be big is something the author wants more than the reader. I think in a number of books, it also tends to sacrifice the design to make the name large, and this may hinder sales to new customers. I think this is less true with titles. You could go either way on that one.

    There are lots of groups on Goodreads that rate book covers. Helps to keep up with those in your genre.

    • One reason to use a big name and title is to make your book look like trade-published e-books. If it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s good enough for Joe Self-Publisher.

      Otherwise I’m continually amazed by the number of people who’ve spent a lot of time building a book cover yet you can’t tell what it is at all at thumbnail size, which is the size most potential new readers will see when they’re skimming through recommendations, ‘also boughts’ and genre lists.

      • That’s only generally true in certain genres, for example, thrillers, and I’m not even sure that’s a necessity, just a trend from the big names.

        In YA, names are tiny and titles may or may not be small, but are usually in glowy, flowery fonts. They are not easy to read, sometimes even when you are holding the hardback in your hands. I know in YA groups, they rate books, and size of the name and title are never mentioned in discussions unless it covers up the art they want to see.

        Plus, even with thumbnails, most people forget the title and author are usually right underneath or next to the book in HTML.

        You have to know your genre, and you can’t assume that all your books should look the same when you cross genres, which I’ve seen several big self-pubbers recommend.

        • True, I haven’t really looked at covers in detail in genres I don’t write. But my main point was that if you intentionally make your book not look like trade-published covers in that genre, then readers are likely to skip over it because it doesn’t look like something they’re used to buying.

  3. Maybe it’s because I have a decent sized monitor and use a kindle fire, but I don’t think thumbnails are quite as small as she thinks they are.

  4. I think the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and “White Album” covers do as well in thumbnails as they do on vinyl album jackets.

  5. Thing is, I don’t know how much longer this advice will be true. Amazon (and other stores) are requiring you to submit larger image files and the images they display are getting larger as well.

    • This drives me NUTS, because even though they require you to submit a larger size file, they do not display that file. Even when you click on it, you get “look inside the book” these days, instead of a larger version of the cover. You can scroll back the “look inside” window to find the cover, but it’s still small, and when you zoom in, it stays inside that tiny window.

      The reason they are requiring those large images is so they will look good on the Kindle Fire or iPad… AFTER you have bought the book.

      The problem is that some things do not scale well. You can create an image at a high resolution, but the proportions need to be different at a high resolution than at a low one. If ONLY they would allow you to upload an optimized low rez image separate from the high rez that they require for the book.

      I am considering embedding an optimized high-rez image into the book itself in future, and uploading a different image — high rez, but optimized for low rez — during the submission process.

      • If ONLY they would allow you to upload an optimized low rez image separate from the high rez that they require for the book.

        The high-rez cover really doesn’t matter much for an e-book, because few people look at it. When I create new covers I’m primarily concentrating on making it look good at low-rez and the high-rez can take care of itself.

        After all, if readers are browsing books online, if your low-rez cover doesn’t appeal they’ll never even see the high-rez.

  6. Not a bad article, but me thinks the comments here about cover the changes/other viewpoints needed.
    I will say that a cover needs pop. And that’s variable as per genre.

  7. .
    The image is less important than the font choices. You can take the same graphics and improve the text placement and font styles and turn a bad into a great cover (great=better sales, not necessarily more friends admiring it).
    .
    General advice in the article is sound and matches what I’ve been seeing, and testing successfully with my own books.
    .
    .

  8. That was the paramount issue with my cover art and design. Every time my artist or designer sent me a sample, I shrunk it down to thumbnail size. And before they even started, I told them I wanted it to be easily viewable in thumbnail size. The result: My name is pretty small, but an editor friend of mine told me to suck it up because the design of the cover was quite good.

    When I get a bit more known, the size of my name can increase. :-)

  9. I would be interested to see Joel Friedlander comment on this article.

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