Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Makes a Book Marketable? #3

Our manuscript has been polished to a brilliant shine by our editor and is ready to go. Do we need anything else before it races off the press and onto bookstore shelves?

Our words may paint an artistic masterpiece, but if our cover doesn’t beckon readers, we will have a problem marketing our book. While it has often been said that you can’t tell a book by its cover, the reality is that the cover had better be worthy of our gripping, well-crafted story. It’s the first thing the potential reader sees—our invitation to pick up our work and peruse the content. How important is this?

A grand piano graced the original cover of my first novel. Several readers told me they expected a tale about music—which it isn’t. I revised the cover, which now features a framed picture of a yellow rose. This has some relevance to the story . . . except that the book isn’t about flowers (roses or otherwise). And it lacks the vitality that inspires sales. I know I need a striking design, but I’m still looking for an eye-catching idea that fits the story and will motivate readers to pick up my novel and thumb through its pages, then buy it.

Interior design is of equal importance. Are appropriate headers in place? How about page numbering? What font has been used in the body of the text? Is it lovely but somewhat illegible? Or is it a nice serif font that’s simple to read and easy on the eyes? Are the margins wide enough, but not too wide? What about leading (space between lines) and kerning (space between letters)? Does a quick glance at its pages invite the viewer to sit down for a good read?

What a shame it is to spend months (or even years) writing a book, only to have it fall short and lose sales because the quality of the exterior and interior design doesn’t measure up to that of the content!

Linda Lane, author of two novels, works with an editing team to bring affordable quality editing to all writers.


  1. So true - the package design has to match the gift inside.

  2. The title and cover are what motivates me to pick up a book in the store and examine it further to see if it looks worth taking a chance on a purchase. A book needs to jump out and grab me as I pass by and say, "Hey! Take a look at me before you keep going."

  3. I'm sure there are many books that should have been read, but readers didn't like the covers and didn't pick them up, or the font was too small inside.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. The font size is certainly an issue, though I'm surprised sorting through my old paperbacks to see how small the writing was when I was younger. Ah, these old eyes...

  5. Linda,

    Excellent points. It's a shame when all the author's efforts are undermined by a book that doesn't present well, or is too hard to read. Thanks.

  6. This is such a timely topic for me. My publisher told me today she's working on my cover and I may get a peek at it in a few days! I hope it'll be one of those that call to readers.


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