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Kindle Ebook Cover Tips: Avoid Five Common Blunders That Turn Off Buyers

by Marcia Yudkin

In a 2010 survey of avid fiction readers by The Book Smugglers, 79 percent said that cover design plays a decisive role in whether or not they purchase a particular book. I suspect the findings would be similar for nonfiction. The cover of a book can inspire curiosity, confidence and desire - or it can spark the quiet little rejection, "No, not this one." The importance of covers applies even if the book in question is digital and the cover isn't something that can be picked up and contemplated in one's hands.

A great Kindle cover doesn't really cost more than a mediocre or lousy one. As someone who keeps a keen eye on Kindle marketing for a course I teach, I've observed several common mistakes in Kindle covers that you can avoid through the instructions and feedback you provide to your cover designer. Ensure an effective cover for your eBook by heeding the following warnings and guidelines.

1. Include a byline. Covers with no author name violate readers' expectations and create discomfort in their minds. Any book worth reading was written by an individual (or by a group of them under the leadership of an editor). Their name or names belong on the cover.


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2. Avoid the simplistic use of stock photos. One cover designer I worked with looked up the main theme of my book on iStockphoto, selected a visually interesting image and combined it with the words for my title, subtitle and byline. That's it. This approach can yield a nice-looking cover, but at the risk that many, many others are using the very same image for the central theme on their web sites, brochures, magazine ads, etc. For me, it's unacceptable to be so unoriginal. Tell your designer you expect something that people interested in your topic haven't seen before.

3. For a book series, create a family of covers. Whether it's nonfiction or fiction, someone shopping for books should be able to spot the resemblance instantly when they see two covers in the same series on the same page. Establish the pattern through color, a distinctive font, type of image, shapes, layout or some combination of these elements.

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4. Go flat, not 3-D. Amazon, Nook, the iBookstore and other eBook marketplaces do not want three-dimensional covers that show a spine for the book and the edges of the pages it contains. They want a flat image with no depth and no other parts of the book showing besides the front.

5. Match the cover with the audience. The frou-frou style used on many "chick-lit" novels would be completely wrong for a business book that needs to be taken seriously, just as a dark, menacing look that signals a thriller or science-fiction title won't work for a cookbook. Communication with the designer about the target readers, genre of the book and the desired emotional tone for the cover should avoid this pitfall.

If you ask friends and colleagues for feedback on cover designs, don't ask which ones they like. Ask, "Does this make you think of a ___ [the type of book it is]?" "Which cover makes you want to know more about the book?" Simulate a shopping situation by placing your top cover candidate alongside the covers of published books it will be competing with. If it can hold its own in that situation, you may have a winner.

Copyright 2013 Marcia Yudkin. All rights reserved.  

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