Archive for February, 2008

Isn’t the Content More Important Than the Cover?

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

It depends.

Are you interested in selling books? If so, then where will they sell? Bookstores won’t stock books that don’t have a good spine and a commercially viable cover. And on-line stores like Amazon use thumbnails of the cover to help sell books because good ones work.

Without a good cover, your readers won’t look at your book long enough to get hooked. There have been a few exceptions, as with any rule, but not many. And who wants to make it any harder for your book to succeed in this world?

So packaging matters, even when you’re selling words. Allot enough resources to guarantee a good cover if you want good sales.

Now for the hard part: what makes a good cover? I have a few thoughts, which may be all wrong, so please feel free to contradict or argue with me in the comments:

Spine: Should be clearly legible from a distance of 3 to 4 feet, by your target audience. (For example, if they’re boomers, their eyes may no longer be good, so make it even larger font, and less ornamental.) If it’s popular non-fiction or fiction, consider including a thumbnail image.

Front cover: Look at the books on the store shelf where you want yours to appear. What do the successful ones have in common? Your design should have a similar design sensibility (color schemes, type of art or lack of same, font type, overall “feel” . . .), and similar amounts of information.

Back cover: The copy here (or on the jacket flaps) is critical. You have a very few sentences to tell the reader why they’ll be glad they bought your book and not the others that meet their needs. You may want to use blurbs (do other books on the shelf?) or summaries of benefits (not features) or plot synopses. Whatever you say, make it count!

Really, I’m not the person to ask, so I’m opening it up to all of you. What grabs you and makes you pull down a book (other than a known author or branded series)?

What Kindle 2.0 and 3.0 Should Be

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Now that I’ve had my Kindle 1.0 for a week, I still love it. Nonetheless, I can see what I would like for the future:

1. Better resolution for graphics.
2. More font options, so that publishers can do a little typography.
3. Better h&j routines. The justification tends to do funky things to word spacing. Maybe it could come with some h&j routines it could do on the fly?
4. Waterproofing. I like to read while I walk from place to place. I can’t take my Kindle out in the rain, per the manual. (I’m in NYC and driving just isn’t an option for most errands.)
5. Slightly better searching and suggestions in the Kindle store. Right now, whether it’s because the selection is still light as we all rush to convert to the format, or what, it’s still not as good as the regular Amazon experience.
6. Longer battery life, or the option to upgrade to a longer battery life. I’m having to recharge after reading for a day or so. Not that it’s a real problem, but . . .

Color would also be nice, but not at the expense of resolution.

So, all the rest of you — what do you want in your Kindles? Better web brower? Better searching by tags? What?

And I just found yet another reason why publishing people ought to love the Kindle. Agent Kristin on Pub Rants tells how it’s making her life easier.