Judging a Book by Its Cover
By: Bruce Wawrzyniak
It would be interesting if there was a study done on consumer behavior as it relates to purchasing
habits, as follows.
In my opinion, I feel as though if you go to an online retailer (we all know which one I’m talking about) to
buy a book, chances are you’re going on that website or that app with a specific book in mind. If,
however, you are in one of the major box stores (booksellers), you’re going to browse. And this, of
course, happens in airport gift stores also, and, in any of those physical locations, a good book cover is
going to catch your attention.
If someone handed you a book that they did themselves, they designed the cover themselves and
they’re not really designer and it looked like crap and they “made it at home,” and then someone else
handed you a book whose cover was done by someone who is a designer by trade and it was printed
professionally, you’d absolutely know the difference and you would absolutely go toward the one that
I have a client right now who’s been writing his tail off for a couple of years on his book and the contents
are (the story is) going to be phenomenal. It’s going to be a great, great read when it’s done. But if the
cover looks like crap, sadly, no one is going to buy it. It’s going to be unfortunate because all his time
and efforts are going to go for naught. So, there is a lot of pressure. It is important to pick a good cover
This entire blog is not about just the cover of your book, it is about the fact that appearance is, in fact,
As you continue your writing journey, know that the above extends to the other professionals that you
enlist along the way.
If you were to look at someone who bills themselves as a publicist and yet you go on his or her or that
agency’s website and it’s showing all kinds of other directions that they go in, you are going to question
yourself and you are going to judge that book by its cover. In that example, you will find yourself
wondering, “Where are the publicist services” and asking, “Where are the accomplishments that they’re
getting for their clients.” If you go on my agency’s (Now Hear This) social media, you are going to see
post after post after post of results that we are getting for our author (and other) clients.
I was recently advising an author client of mine on ‘appearance is everything’ as it relates to a
professional whose services he was considering enlisting and yet he was complaining to me about the
fact that this person is horrible when it comes to being terrible at getting back to him. I then challenged
him to consider, ‘Do you want someone out there representing you that might be projecting that kind of
image onto others, which becomes an extension of you?’ I took it one step further, adding that you
have to put some thought into how interested that person is actually going to be in representing your
Another client of mine has been working with a publisher on her next book, yet she too has shared with
me about poor communication that does not leave a satisfied feeling or room for optimism. She doesn’t hear back from them very much at all, and when she does, there is no estimated release date for
something she initially felt would be out in January or February.
As you know, once you are off and running with your next writing project, family, friends, colleagues,
followers, and more will ask you, “What’s the next step?” Or they might take a bigger picture approach
and inquire, “Where is this all going?” Keep in mind these same people can and hopefully will become a
“street team,” ambassadors, for you, if you will. Thus, think twice about airing your dirty laundry and
putting a dark cloud over your project that you’re going to want to garner support for once it’s close to
But more so, take the broad view and do some vetting before jumping at the first shiny attention-getter
that crosses your path. Can you have a free consultation with someone before enlisting their services?
Who in the writing community do you know that you can get a trusted opinion from? What in-person or
online groups are you a part of that you can get feedback from instead of the “I’m just going to go with
my gut” approach?
We all have heard lots and lots (and lots) of cliches, but some of them have actually been around a long
time for a reason. “You get what you pay for” and “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” are
two that come to mind here.
Yes, you want your book(s) to sell. And certainly, it’s nice to gain some level of notoriety along the way.
Thus, making an informed decision on your investment is only going to better your chances of seeing a
Don’t get discouraged. Follow the passion that has brought you to where you are. And put yourself in
such a position that yours will be a success story.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the San Francisco Writers Conference in February.
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Bruce Wawrzyniak is a publicist who operates Now Hear This, an agency with clients from California to
Florida. This will be his third year speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference and he has
previously written guest blogs for us as well. Learn more at www.NowHearThis.net, where you’ll also
find links to connect through various social media platforms.