Do Ugly Covers Really Sell More Books?

I’ve heard it many times.  Maybe you’ve heard it too.  Ugly book covers sell better than pretty ones.  But is it true?  And if it is should you create an ugly cover for your booklet?  And what if you write a book?  Should that cover be ugly too?  What about your other products?

FACT: Ugly often outsells pretty when it comes to book covers, but that doesn’t mean you should make your cover an ugly one. 

You’re probably familiar with the Dummies series of books, which has titles such as Investing for Dummies, Medicare for Dummies and The Bible for Dummies.  Every book in the Dummies series has the same black and yellow cover with a photo under the title that goes along with the content of each book.

The Dummies series’ book covers are not pretty.  In fact, they are pretty ugly and yet the Dummies series sells, on average, ten Dummies books in the United States every minute.  Most authors can’t even imagine sales that high let alone entertain such thoughts and dream about it.  But what’s really behind these incredible sales statistics?

In the case of the Dummies books it’s a combination of things.  First, the title tells you that this information is going to be a no-brainer. It’s all going to be spelled out for you step by step in easy to understand terms.  This is a huge marketing strategy in and of itself because these days nobody wants to sift through a ton of difficult material (which is why the market is wide open for booklets!) – and in case you haven’t noticed those Dummies books are pretty thick.

Second, the cover colors – black and yellow – are considered the best contrast to attract the eye. According to some color psychologists yellow is the first color the eye sees so it will make a book cover stand out. That doesn’t mean it’s appropriate in every case, but it did work well for the Dummies series which started out in bookstores before the internet.  The books needed to get attention from the shelf, and the colors lend themselves well to the non-fiction variety of how to information that the Dummies series is so famous for.

Third, the Dummies series, with their yellow covers, are reminiscent of a phone book, and phone books, like the Dummies series, are reference books.  When you see a Dummies book your subconscious may be making a connection of which you are not aware.  Like the old yellow phone books, the Dummies books feel familiar and trusted.

All of these things work in the Dummies books’ favor, but the real bottom line is that the publishers of the dummies books know their market well, and they were able to create a cover for that market that also fit the material inside the books.

When you create a cover for your booklet, book or other products, it’s not just about the aesthetics of the cover.  It’s really about what the design conveys to the potential buyer that’s important.  An ugly cover may work very well for you, or it may not.  You need to know your market well in order to come up with something that is pleasing to them.  When you create a cover that connects with your audience, grabs and their attention and gets them to take notice, you’ll have a winner!

To your riches!

Kim Hillman

PS:  Have you checked out my free ecourse?  It’s called “12 Ways A Booklet Can Turn Your Writing Into Cash!”  Get it here!

You can find my ebook, “Publish Outside The Box” here!

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