Writing a Business Book? Your Audience will Judge the Book by Its Cover

Do you know you only have eight seconds to hook someone’s attention? That’s your window of opportunity to make a lasting first impression, which debatably means the cover of your business book is just as important as your writing…well, almost. 

Unfortunately the saying is true—we do judge books by their covers. Regardless if your business book is on the shelves of a retail or e-commerce store, the competition is stiff. Your book is stacked up next to thousands of others, making those eight seconds crucially important. 

So, how will you use yours?

Writing a business book is an extraordinary accomplishment, requiring tremendous time and effort. Blood, sweat and tears, if you will. You would be selling yourself short if you didn’t put the same effort into the design of your book cover as you did with your writing. 

Creating a book cover that sells just as much as your advice boils down to a few minor, yet impactful details. You want to hint at the genre, show some personality and hold the attention of your reader. Let’s dive into the basics. 

Writing a Business Book? Your Audience will Judge the Book by Its Cover

Stand out on the shelf 

Your book needs to stand out. Plain and simple. But, how? 

The only way to truly stand out is to follow your own authentic creative direction. I know, how cliché, but unfortunately, it’s true. Eye-catching art, even on the cover of a business book, only stands out when it’s transformed from your true and personal artistic expression. 

As a writer, it can be hard to create visual imagery that encompasses literary work — for many, that creativity comes by words, not paint strokes or sketches. So, I’m going to throw two more painstakingly true clichés at you— follow your intuition and don’t be scared to think outside the box. 

Creative design is all about leaning into your creativity and imagination. Let them take you places, especially where rules don’t exist. Enjoy the freedom to flow and tap into artistic mediums like graphic design, painting, and collage—or try them all. 

As you explore with your creativity, don’t get too carried away. Remember, your book cover design still needs to portray the theme and attract your target readers. Ah, look at that—a perfect segway.

Give readers an idea of your book theme

You want to keep readers guessing when it comes to your plot line, not your book cover.

Try to tell the same story that’s in your book, on the cover. You don’t have to be literal, but you also don’t want to mislead readers with a design that has nothing to do with the contents of your business book. This will only attract the wrong audience and lead to disappointed readers!

With the help from a few creative book design tips, you can nail down the perfect design for your business book. Remember, your book cover should:

  • Set the right tone of voice and genre.
  • Trigger the right emotions.
  • Draw curiosity from your readers.

A good rule of thumb is to “show, don’t tell.” How can you imply the overarching mood and big picture idea of your book without explicitly saying it? 

Less is (usually) more

There’s one similarity between business book cover design and Charmin Ultra: less is more. 

I put “usually” in parentheses because rules are always meant to be broken and of course there are exceptions, but usually, a simple design stands out more than a crowded cover. 

The cover of your book is an extension of the contents inside. If your book cover design looks messy and unorganized, then it can imply the same message about your book. Usually, “messy” and “unorganized” aren’t great selling points for a business book.

Instead, focus on saying more with the least amount of clutter. Simplicity is key as it is in many other avenues of life. Don’t get so carried away with your cover design that you steamroll your actual book. 

Don’t forget about the back cover

Imagine: you’re checking out a new book. The cover calls to you, so you pick it up. Then, what do you do next? 

It’s something we all do. We pick up the book, we look at the cover, maybe we scope a few pages, then we always confirm our likeness with the contents on the back cover. From here we buy or we don’t. 

The front cover of your business book pulls your prospective reader in and hooks them. The back cover of your book then seals the deal. So, don’t underestimate the importance of the design for the back cover of your book!

Selling online? Check that thumbnail.

If you’re selling your business book on any online marketplace, make sure you have an image of your book that looks clean as a thumbnail. It’s a problem that surfaced with the digital age and voilà: now you have to think about thumbnails amidst the laundry-list of all your other book writing to-do’s. 

Thumbnails may not seem like a big deal—how is a little image supposed to contribute to your book sales, anyway? But, contrary to that belief, thumbnails are an extension of your design, which needs to always be clean and visible. A pixelated thumbnail image could throw off a potential reader and cost you a sale!

Take away: Your business book cover design

Your business book is, presumably, your baby. It’s a reflection of yourself, your mind, and your values. Plus, it has a hell-of-a-lot of helpful information—you wouldn’t have written it otherwise! 

To get the most exposure and to attract your ideal readers, your book cover design needs to be just as compelling and intriguing as the contents of your book. If you follow these tips and tackle your book cover design with the same passion as your writing, your business book is bound to fly off the shelves and stand out in a sea of literary competition. 

Francis Nwokike

Francis Nwokike is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Total Entrepreneurs. A Social Entrepreneur and experienced Disaster Manager. He loves researching and discussing business trends and providing startups with valuable insights into running a profitable business. He created TTE to share ideas and tips to help entrepreneurs run and grow their businesses.

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