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Our book cover selection process

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to Amazon that’s the first thing our potential buyer will be doing. The book cover needs to engage the reader’s interest, just long enough for them to click on the image. After that it’s the Amazon description and ‘Look Inside’ feature that’ll secure a sale. But how do you know which cover will appeal to your target reader?  

I’m going to talk you through the process we used for selecting a book cover for Getting Published. As Harry explained in Covers? Sorted. Reviews? Sorted., we commissioned a selection of book cover designs and tested them on Facebook to see which design would appeal to our target audience.  

To start off, we approached three designers, all of which had varying levels of experience designing book covers. As part of the brief, we requested  

  • three designs from each designer 
  • a cover design that would appeal to UK and US based buyers  
  • a design that would be clear and attractive as a thumbnail image on Amazon’s search result pages. 

In turn, we included some examples of our competitors and explained our cover selection process. 

We ended up with over 15 designs to choose from! We then selected our top five for testing – based on which designs we felt met the criteria we laid out in the brief and which ones we felt sat well within the Jericho ‘family.’ 

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=164&dpx=2&t=1594305729Cover Designs

Once we selected our top covers, we began the testing process. The split test allowed us to run five different Facebook adverts at the same time, one for each cover design. It was pretty easy to set-up. All we needed to do was resize the images (we used Canva), prepare copy to be used on all five adverts, and set the parameters for the test. The adverts were identical, the only variation being the image: 


The only tricky part of this was getting our covers through Facebook’s approval process. Usually, an ad can only run with 20% text in the image. But this rule doesn’t apply for book covers, for the obvious reason that book covers generally need a lot of text on them! However, you can't ‘tell’ Facebook that you’re advertising a book cover straight away. You have to upload the ads as normal, and then wait to see if they get approved. If they do, great! If not, you’ll get an email from Facebook saying they’ve been rejected for having too much text (like we did) then you have to contact Facebook (through email or direct message) and tell them it’s a book cover. This is a bit of effort, but ultimately, they will apply the book cover exemption to your ads and finally, approve them! None of this will stop your ads going live, it just means you may need to plan some extra time to get them approved.  

We ran the testing for three days. We could have kept it going for longer, but it was clear on the third day which cover would be the winning design. The covers showed to 8,000 people who expressed an interest in writing and publishing (you can select your target audience using the tools provided by Facebook.) From those, 370 people clicked on the link and downloaded their free copy from BookFunnel (also, super easy to use, but you do have to pay an annual fee). 

The designs performed at different levels, in fact the top three designs were very close. In the end, the ‘best’ cover was the design that had the most downloads over the testing period. 

Cover testing can be a costly experiment. So, before you commit to anything, make sure that you’ve briefed your designer properly. You may choose to only work with one designer and request a range of sample covers to test with. Most designers tend to offer you around 3 designs to choose from anyway. For the Facebook ads, we budgeted for £150, but only spent £100/$130. You might choose to budget for lower than that, which you can do when you set the ads up. You can also keep track of the ‘live’ data as it’s coming in and stop the ads at any time, like we did, or let it run its course.  

So, there it is, our method for choosing the Getting Published book cover. We used testing and data to direct us towards the cover that would appeal to our intended audience – people like you, serious writers. And here it is: 


Oh, and yes, you can get a copy of Getting Published here if you’re in the UK, and here if you’re in the US

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Comments (2)
    • I'd been hoping to see the numbers - how well each of the designs did.

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      • Very helpful 

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