Why Your Book Cover is Like a Highway Billboard

Book Cover Highway billboard11

Your book cover is like a highway billboard. How’s that? It’s simple. Just as people are driving past a billboard at 70 MPH, shoppers in a book store are walking by your book sitting on a table at the same relevant speed. Like a billboard, if you first don’t catch their attention you’ll never deliver the message. book-marketing-expert.com

That’s one reason billboards use images to get the attention and then the words to make the sale.

What are common images? Attractive women, followed by muscular and attractive men. They don’t call romance books bodice rippers for nothing and the photos or illustrations on books in that genre leave no doubt in your mind about what’s inside. But that can’t be said about most other books. That’s why that image is important real estate that must be used to convey to the potential buyer just what’s in that book.

What is the correct image? One that does not need any explanation. If your image needs an introduction… then it’s not the right choice. How can you find out? Just show it to people. Ask them what they think the book is about by looking at the cover image. Ideally the image does the talking by itself.

While we often hear “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” everybody – book buyers, reviewers, media and consumers alike – most certainly do judge a book by its cover.

Choose your title carefully. The best highway billboards are 5-7 words in total because motorists are flying by and cannot comprehend too much information. The human mind cannot comprehend words at a glance so why fight it? Putting too many words in the title is the equivalent of trying to take a drink out of a fire hose! If you want to have a fighting chance give them a short sweet title and subtitle. Be brief.

Blurbs. Blurbs are those short two to three sentences of compliment that books have on their back covers. The best blurbs are from well known experts in the field, famous people, authors who have read the book and have provided positive comments. There’s only room for a few so you have to edit out repetitive blurbs and keep the best ones for the cover. If you are in love with all your blurbs, than print them in full on the last inside pages of the book.

One reason the task becomes so daunting and painful is that authors too often wait until the end of the process, instead of nearer the beginning, to think through book cover design.

As a book publicist and book marketer I cannot caution authors enough – do not underestimate the importance of a book cover’s design. Not only do potential book buyers judge a book by its cover but so do members of the media. Many reporters receive dozens of books every day! Do you really think they read the book flap and your pitch? Ha!

Here are some important items to consider when making decisions on book cover design:
1. Use a subhead to create more description. If you have a 10-word title, you have not properly named the book in the first place.

2. Check with Google on the words that are most searched on your topic. To do this, type in the word that best describes your book in the search box and then see what the next most important or popular words are in that list. That ranking is very relevant marketing- wise so try to use those words in your title or subtitle.

3. Visit book stores and look at the covers of all types of books. What catches your eye? Look at the book face and look at the spines. Which ones are readable and why?

4. Will it play on Amazon? Go to Amazon.com, BN.com, KOBO and goodreads and search on competitive books in your space. Notice the book covers that catch your eye and the ones that do not. If your cover does not show up well in an Amazon thumbnail then you are going to lose sales.

5. Contrast. Don’t let your graphic designer get started without keeping contrast in mind. The reason black ink works so well on white paper is because it produces the best contrast possible. Yellow ink on green paper in a small font simply does not work.

6. How does your book look in black and white? Not every publication will be printing it in color.

7. Font size. Many designers are young with great eyesight. But your buyer may not be able to read the tiny font some designers insist upon using. Be practical.

8. The spine. Can you read it from five feet away? If not, neither can browsers in a book store.Billboard

9. Blurbs. Keep them relevant and short. Consider including a mention on the cover of a foreword written by a famous person or author. “Foreword by J.K. Rowling” or “Foreword by Oprah Winfrey” or “Foreword by Best Selling Author Tom Clancy.”

10. Do not overlook creating content on the back inside flaps because consumers pick up a book after looking at the spine, front cover and back and then open the book to find the price or more information.

11. Print your cover out on a laser printer. Don’t just review your cover on a computer screen which will make it look considerably better. Print it out actual size and make a determination using that printed version.

12. Pictures are worth 1000 words. Use photos and illustrations to describe what would take too long to explain.

13. When choosing a book design ask yourself how the cover will look on your website home page. Branding is important so you’ll want to use the same design elements on your website that you do on your book cover

14. Show your cover designs to as many people in your target group of potential readers. Get their reactions and opinions. It costs you nothing and you’ll likely find out something you did not realize before.

15. Mary Heim, Direct Sales Manager at Sheridan Books says that before you start to design your cover contact your printer for a cover layout and cover stock and coating samples. When you have your cover complete have the printer do a test on the files to make sure they work for the printer. Ask for samples of the printer’s work. http://www.sheridanbooks.com

Bottom line: Get involved early in the entire book publishing design process and get at least three creative concepts for the front cover, back cover, and spine. Don’t let it be the ‘last thing’ you do.

And finally, the most important rule in book publishing and marketing – Know Your Reader! All books have a target reader and in all genres there are varying degrees of readers. Targeting the reader who is most likely to purchase your book is critical. Authors who know the demographics of their readers are equipped to assemble the fonts and graphics best able to grab the reader’s eye and instantly convey the message that “this book is for you.”

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com  or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @abookpublicist Check his blog at: http://www.The-Book-Publicist.com

 

How Cookbook Authors Can Do a Great Cooking Segment on TV

Authors of cook books have an advantage over traditional authors because they can employ a TV appearance to increase book sales. One of the best ways for cookbook authors to get this extra exposure is to demonstrate their capabilities by showcasing recipes and talent on an in-studio cooking segment on television.
A lot of things can go wrong on a live in-studio cooking demo. Here are some tips to insure that your cooking segment is great.
Most importantly find out how much time you have to work with. There’s a big difference between a 2 ½ minute segment and 3 ½ minutes. My advice is to plan on a 2 ½ minute segment. Ask yourself what can you do in that time period and plan accordingly. Anticipate and have strategies to deal with interruptions. Practice by setting up a camera in your kitchen so you can film and time your process.

Don’t do a lot of talking during the segment. You are there to demonstrate how to prepare a certain dish and that’s what your audience and host expects of you. So keep the words down.

Remember that there are three groups that you need to satisfy – the producer, the audience, and yourself. The producers are looking for interesting/compelling television; your job is to make them look great. The audience wants to learn something. What’s their takeaway? What will you do to make their lives better? Among your goals is to point people to your website. A great way is to offer a free item like a recipe or appetizer in your restaurant. Once they sign up for the free item, use their email address for future marketing.

It’s very important to find out in advance about the capabilities of the studio kitchen. Some studio kitchens look good on TV but the stove may not even be hooked up! Come with a prepared cooked version of your dish that can be displayed ahead of time and have another ready for the demonstration. It’s always a good idea to bring some extra samples for the crew. I’ve never see them turn down food! Outdoor segments, such as barbequing, really go well in the summer because that’s what audience members do in the summer. For the fall, a Tailgate segment is great.
Here are some practical tips for that great cooking segment:
• The camera loves food that sizzles, bubbles, and flames. Keep that in mind when selecting the dish you will prepare. Can your dish be prepared and plated in the allotted time? Pre-cook the dish halfway if necessary to meet the time limit.
• If there are promotional screen graphics provide the producer with the information several days before the shoot.
• Make a packing list of all the gear you need to cook off premise. Double-check your list and pack efficiently. Arrive at the studio 45 minutes before air time. Bring a cart to transport your gear and ingredients from the car to the studio quickly and efficiently.
• Digital TV cameras can be unforgiving so bring some make-up to apply in the studio.
• The camera loves color so bring some colorful ingredients as well as a seasonal table decoration.
• Upon first arriving at the cooking set, check all burners to make sure they work.
• Be set up 15 minutes before air time. Walk in front of the cooking table and scan what the camera will record. Is the tablecloth on straight? Are all ingredient labels faced outward? Are the ingredients balanced in uniform fashion?
• Provide the host with a list of suggested questions. This will help the host stay focused and on track and will help prevent any ringers from being thrown your way.
• Always refer to the host by name. Make direct eye contact and smile.
• Go with the flow. Some hosts will ask distracting, non-relevant questions so have a plan to deal with that possibility.
For many of my clients, I suggest they use a professional media trainer to better prepare them for the television or radio appearance. One trainer I frequently recommend is Jess Todtfeld, former FOX News producer and President of Success in Media (www.SuccessInMedia.com) Among the suggestions Todtfeld gives to help deliver a great cooking segment are:
• Don’t expect the studio to have a stylist for you. You must take the necessary steps beforehand so you look as beautiful as you are and so your segment is great from beginning to end.
• Bring all the ingredients, tools for preparing, and a finished version of your dish. Don’t expect to really cook it during the segment.
• Bring extra finished food for the crew. The quickest way to their hearts is through their stomachs. It will be worth every penny in materials when they decide to book you again.
• Have your entire segment planned out from A to Z to make the producer’s life easy. That, in turn, will make him love you and book you again.
• It’s not all about the food. Be fun. Show your personality.
• Give a copy of the recipe and let them know they can place it on the station’s website.
• Days before the segment ask if they can prepare a “for more information” graphic for the lower third of the screen that will display your website address so people can find you after the show. It’s a pretty standard practice but if you don’t ask they might forget.
• Have something free on your website to plug, such as five of your most requested low-cal recipes or a chapter of your book. Be able to monetize the value of your free gift.
Make sure all the vegetables and cuts of meat are fresh and will appear appetizing. Place them in clear glass dishes along with pre-measured spices. There’s only so much you can prep ahead of time; some things need to be done in the studio.
With HD cameras viewers can see everything from water spots on your glass ware to fingernails in need of a manicure and a five o’clock shadow. What may be acceptable in your kitchen may not play well on TV so be keenly aware of your appearance.
A great cooking segment will produce hundreds if not thousands of new diners, book sales and recipe downloads. It’s all possible with planning, preparation and effort. Your success will be assured if you engage the services of a professional media trainer and marketing professional and practice your demo again and again.

Just for fun, if you’d like to see how a lack of preparation can lead to disaster then you’ll want to see these videos I’ve uncovered. The first disaster occurs because the chef did not anticipate that the two co-hosts, Kathie Lee and Hoda, would do a lot of distractive talking while he was trying to prepare food and he had no strategy to deal with the distraction. Take a look at:

In the second video things go totally awry because Paula Dean does not take charge and gives a free hand to Al Roker and creates a massive time crunch for herself. Get ready to laugh at:

One great example of a cooking segment was when Randy Lorenz, my own brother was asked to appear on FOX-TV. Their Michigan wedding venue, The Meeting House Grand Ballroom had won The Knot’s wedding reception banquet facility of the year award. They have one of the most beautiful non-denominational ceremony locations in Michigan for a wedding reception. As you’ll see by this clip on YouTube they did a terrific job of demonstrating their cooking expertise… after following my advice of course! http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/21765481/2013/03/22/the-meeting-house-ballroom

The bottom line: Great food and a great cooking segment on TV is no accident; it’s all in the preparation. Good luck!