Can You Vote The BAD Cover Off The Island?
Vote It Off!
You know that your cover matters, right? A lot — as in, if the cover doesn’t engage readers they click on a different book and you are done!
If you don’t sweat the cover, you should!
So is there a way to get some insight into ‘good’ or ‘bad’ besides your own intuition?
Yep. There is.
It’s called AB testing, and Pick Fu provides it!
One of my clients is writing a really powerful coming of age story with a bittersweet romantic twist. He’s getting his cover from Sylvia Frost, an excellent and affordable cover artist. One of the things I really like about her is that she offers clients three cover concepts to begin with, so that she and the author can narrow things down to the final product.
While Greg and I quickly agreed that one of the covers didn’t quite fit the book, we each preferred a different one of the remaining pair.
Covers are important.
Covers are very important. If that cover doesn’t engage a browsing reader when it shows up on the bookstore screen, that reader clicks on another book. It is the first step toward that ‘buy click’ and if the reader doesn’t take that step, you’re done.
I’m the first one to bow to the wisdom of a crowd — at least when the crowd is made up of readers! So I suggested to Greg that he take the covers to Pick Fu, a great service that runs AB testing for authors for a very reasonable price.
What’s AB testing? A select group of people (you select the demographics that suit) are offered two options. Those could be covers, titles, blurbs, or opening paragraphs. They choose the item they prefer and say why. I am here to say the only real way to be sure that your cover is going to suit most of your readers is to put it in front of a slice of those readers and ask.
Which is what Greg did.
The cover with the two kids wading in the stream got chosen by a whopping 74% of the respondents, while only 26% preferred the cover with them sitting on the dock. Off the island, dock cover!
We went ahead and ran the title and subtitle options through Pick Fu as well.
Does a Frog Remember Its Tail: A Coming of Age Story, got 57.3% of the votes.
Does a Frog Remember Its Tail: A Story of Stolen Time, received only 49% of the votes.
Borrowed: A Story of Stolen Time, only got 43.5 % and it was off the island.
This is not as dramatic a preference since there’s only an 8% difference between the top two, but there are other reasons to opt for the ‘Coming of Age’ subtitle. It makes the nature of the story more instantly clear.
If your cover designer gives you more than one concept to look at (and good ones usually do), it’s not a bad idea at all to run them through Pick Fu. I’d do the same with your blurb, if you’re not paying a professional to write it.
While a simple AB test with 2 options and 50 respondents chosen from the US population costs 20$, it can get more expensive as you increase the number of respondents and define a more specific demographic. Still, if you get a clear preference, such as happened with the cover, it’s an inexpensive way to give yourself some assurance that you’ve made the right choice.