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What makes readers give new authors a try?


Claire Tucker

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A very interesting article from Jane Friedman's blog titled What Makes Readers Give an Unknown Author a Chance

Quote

Overwhelmingly, what made respondents willing to “give a new author a try” (other than a trusted recommendation) was the book’s cover and title: in other words, their first impression.

That didn’t mean they would end up loving the book or even finishing it, only that it would motivate them to pick it up, open it, and purchase it. Together, cover and title were mentioned more than all the other reasons combined: it accounted for 50% of responses, with some people adding a note to apologize for “judging a book by its cover.”

 

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Agreed! People do judge books by their cover.

 

The cover draws them in, but I think it's still important to close the deal with a strong blurb, good reviews, and a reasonable price. In fact, if you have a back-list, a making a book free (especially if it's book one in a series) can make a readers' decision much easier.

  

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Covers sell books. There are people who specialize in cover design. Over the last year or so, I was given two self-published books to review. In one case, someone had taken part of a photo and superimposed it on an image in the background. The lighting was off, among other things.

 

We have an in-house graphic designer who selects a typeface for the cover and an art director who places it, at the right size, on the cover. I won't go into art direction here but speaking generally, before we get a cover from an artist, he sends us four pencil drawings showing different possibilities based on information we provide. The art director selects the best one. Then a color rough based on that drawing is sent in. It is either approved as is or with changes. Then we get the final cover painting.

 

Writers are usually not artists so I'll omit the fine details. Doing a cover correctly based on all of those fine details, does increase the chance that people will pick up the book.

 

Speaking as a reader and an editor, if you don't grab me in the first six pages, I'll put the book back.

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Ever noticed how regularly food containers change their look? Even store brands update and tweak their colors and design all the time. Buying a food that has a "fresh" or "quality" looking package feels good. We unconsciously assume if they take this kind of care for the box, surely they are watching out for the taste inside just as much.

Our covers do the same thing to people. 

If someone can't be bothered to understand some basic principles of graphic design and genre, or hire someone who does, have they taken the time to understand the basic principles of their writing, or hired an editor? 

It's actually not an unjust assumption.

 

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Graphic design takes a while to learn  but can be self-taught.

 

Genre-specific research can also be done so that an author trying say, murder mystery, will understand the basics.

 

I've found that the desire to write, or draw, is usually inspired by something you saw or read. That desire may start to appear at ages 5-9 and develop further.

 

For some, there are no basic principles to writing. They can write something, post it somewhere and they're done. For others, it means finding teachers/courses and/or good books and actually applying what they tell you.  It requires self-discipline and a strong work ethic.

 

The answers are available to anyone who looks around online. I recommend good books.

 

As far as hiring anyone, any amount above say, $20 is a lot of money. I understand that. But at least find out what a book cover designer charges, and find more than one. The same with editors. Writing is the road less traveled compared to an average job, but if you stick to it, you can be rewarded.

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On 11/17/2019 at 12:40 PM, Accord64 said:

but I think it's still important to close the deal with a strong blurb, good reviews, and a reasonable price.

Agreed! I don't care how pretty your cover is, if your blurb is horrible, I will pass. 

 

 

On 11/17/2019 at 3:13 PM, robg213 said:

There are people who specialize in cover design.

 

On 11/17/2019 at 3:13 PM, robg213 said:

Writers are usually not artists

I think you should say that together more often. Then again considering how many people you work with, you might get tired of saying it. 🤔

 

On 11/17/2019 at 3:13 PM, robg213 said:

if you don't grab me in the first six pages, I'll put the book back.

I agree with this too. 

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I work with highly creative people but it all happened one step at a time. I learned a lot by watching and doing. It just takes time and a real desire to do it. As I wrote elsewhere, I follow an artist who works for Hollywood on youtube. He tells beginning artists the same things I tell beginning writers. Start simple, draw/write a lot, get better and then tackle slightly more complex things. You can't draw the Incredible Hulk on day one. You have to learn anatomy/story structure first.

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1 minute ago, suspensewriter said:

There are tons of artists that will let you use the art for a cover for a small fee, and their work is amazing.

True! I was only joking. I am horrible at art and will be using a professional! Seriously, I have a hard enough time matching my clothing. Let's not go crazy with a book! 😳

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Everyone can draw a straight line. That's not the hard part. Where most beginning artists get into trouble is drawing something that looks three dimensional on a piece of paper, followed by placing shadows correctly. All you need is practice and good instruction.

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