Selling books on Amazon is tough work. You’ve got to make sure your book is coming up in tons of Amazon search results (generating impressions), then you have to make sure it looks enticing enough for people to click through to your book’s Amazon page, then you have to make sure it looks even more enticing, so that they click the “buy button” instead of the dreaded “back button.”
…Not to mention all the work you did creating your book baby in the first place.
You’ve got to get the book cover tweaked to where Amazon book buyers are more likely to actually click on it… and then click the “buy button!”
Let’s say your metadata for your book is generally pretty strong, so your book is popping up in tons of searches (It’s generating a lot of impressions.), but you notice Amazon shoppers aren’t clicking on your book and viewing the book page… Meaning your book sales are low on Amazon.
This is a common issue… You’ve got to get the book cover tweaked to where Amazon book buyers are more likely to actually click on it… and then click the “buy button.”
Traditionally published authors, don’t turn away just yet… You’ll benefit from reading these tips so that before you sign for your next book, you can check out the cover images in that publisher’s catalogue and weigh that with the other pros and cons.
For independently published authors who have learned a fair amount about SEO and metadata, hopefully you’re generating those impressions, coming up in all the right kinds of searches, towards the top, mixed in with all the top competitors. (If not, sign up for my newsletter! I’ll be posting tons about how to do this, and I’d love for you to stay in the loop!) Now you’ve just got to get those shoppers clicking on your book.
The problem lies in the size.
Maybe you’ve seen an image of your cover blown up, filling your computer screen, and maybe you’ve analyzed every detail, and maybe you’ve gone back and forth with your designer a hundred times trying to get it just right…
And maybe you’ve even held a finished copy in your hands. Maybe it’s about 5″ x 8″ and perfect.
But have you shrunk it down to thumbnail size and examined it then? Have you truly looked at it, a quick glance, the way an Amazon shopper might scroll past it on their phone, and did it have the same effect?
If the answer is no, or if you aren’t confident about it, read on. I’ve got three tips you can use to both to make a slightly different, alternate version of your book cover for use online, and to have in your toolkit for your next book.
Tip #1: Make Your Title Easier to Read
Have you ever noticed how our eyes gravitate to text? The alphabet is one of the first things we learned in school, and ever since, it’s been like a magnet. We can’t not read things. Can you quote those furniture ads on the metro? Did you read the billboards as you drove past? You probably did, because you couldn’t help it. Or at least, you read the one that stuck out more than the one next to it.
I get it. You love that font. Maybe it’s killer on the printed version of the book. But if an Amazon shopper can’t read it in half a second, their eye won’t linger on it. Their eye will skip to the book above or below yours, whose title they can read nearly instantaneously, and that’s the book they’ll click on first. Or it might be the only book they click on. They already subconsiously feel closer to that other book because they understood it right away. They’re drawn in. They’re interested.
If an Amazon shopper can’t read your book’s title in half a second, their eye won’t linger on it. They’ll skip to the book above or below yours.
If you want significantly more online shoppers to actually even look at your book in the first place, your title must be clear—very clear—as a thumbnail. Some more specific elements to consider:
- The size of the title
- How thick or thin the font is
- Decorative elements of the font (serif, cursive, block letters, etc.)
- The color of the title
- The color of the title against the background colors and images
- Other business on the cover that might detract from the title when it’s shrunk down to thumbnail size
Hopefully your cover’s title doesn’t need a complete overhaul. Most likely, you can make one small change and see a measureable difference in your ratio of impressions to click-throughs, and ultimately in book sales.
Tip #2: Adjust the Image(s) on the Cover
There are a few common mistakes when it comes to the images on book covers. Here again, what works great on the printed book in a person’s hands may or may not work as well as a thumbnail on someone’s phone or laptop. Here are some of those mistakes and how to fix them.
Your image is too small.
How clear is your image when it’s shrunk down really small? Is it still obvious that that’s a person’s face, or does it look like spaghetti and meatballs?
If an online shopper has to make any effort to decipher your image, any effort at all, it’s too much. Consider whether it’s possible to enlarge a too-small image without interfering with other elements on the cover.
For books with images of people on the cover, consider enlarging that image even if you don’t necessarily need to. Buyers love faces. Faces get clicks. Clicks can lead to purchases. If it’s just right on the printed cover, but could stand to take up just a little more real estate on the thumbnail, consider giving it a go.
Your image interferes with the title.
Does that skyline image blend into the title script in a way that makes it illegible? Are there too many smoky, swirly lines in the photo that are blending in with the letters? Is there a snake weaving in and out through the words?
If the cover image and title merge somehow, find a way to differentiate them.
You might consider separating the image from the text, although in some cases, don’t necessarily have to…. just be sure to differentiate them somehow. Some possibilities:
- Edit the colors a bit so that when it’s shrunk down, the letters are still clearly legible, and the image still stands out. Consider making one color a little more bold, and the other more subdued.
- Edit the size of the image or the title in relation to one another.
- Edit the values of the image and/or text, meaning the lightness or darkness of each.
Another pro tip: Find other book covers with a similar style to yours and consider how those work as thumbnail images, and what they have done well or poorly. Copy the good ones. Learn from the bad ones.
You have multiple images where you should consider having one.
Maybe yours is a cookbook or crafting book, and you’ve got a collage of three or four images on the cover. Are they still as clear as you think they are when they’re shrunk down?
Tip #3: Add a Border to Your Book Cover
This is among the most common mistakes, and also happens to be the easiest to fix… Only now you will be aware of it, while so many other authors simply don’t know it’s a problem.
For book covers that are largely white, or fairly light-colored, consider how they appear on a white background of a website like, oh, let’s say Amazon. There are at least two bad outcomes of this.
Your book cover retreats from the viewer.
When a white cover appears on a white background, its edges aren’t defined. Thus, it feels more distant. When you have only two or three seconds to win over a shopper and get that click, you don’t want your book to feel distant to them. You want your book to appear as clearly and boldly as every other option in that person’s search results. Adding a thin border draws the image forward into a frame, making it feel closer, and drawing the eye.
Your cover takes up less real estate on the page.
Remember, you’re always in competition with other books that pop up in a shopper’s feed on Amazon. Sure, the thumbnail images are technically about the same size, but if their mostly white cover has an established border, containing all the space within, and your mostly-white cover doesn’t, then the only pixels on the page associated with your cover is the small stuff floating in the middle of the image.
Adding a thin border to your mostly white or lightly-colored book cover creates a contained, orderly, “closer,” “larger” image that is much more likely to draw attention… and clicks.
An important note:
I do not advise sending this version of your cover to the printer! For this and most other cover edits I’ve suggested, you can absolutely have one version your send to the printer and an alternate, slightly different version to upload for Amazon, BN.com, your website, and your social media.