My publisher said that there are two things that determine the success of a book:
- The Cover (front 95%, Backcover including the summary 5%)
- The Name of the book
Generally author does not have anything to say with either of these. Naturally first I was offended as an author by the comment. However, when I started to analyze my own behavior in library, this made perfect sense. If I don´t know the author, I skim the cover and the title quickly and move on.
I trusted my publisher´s judgment and both books sold well. Although I am marketing professional, my view of the product (myself) was jaded. I had basically drunk my own Kool-Aid for too long. You need people who have non-biased view of your business and brand. Therefore I am a little bit suspicious if same team works for too long with same brand. You start to become too attached to it and the same time distanced from reality. Majority of brands do not live in reality, but in their own imaginary brand universe. One of the most important tasks for the agencies is to connect the brands with reality.
Other important lesson with the books is the short attention span. Your magnum opus will be assessed in matter of seconds, and if you don´t catch the attention immediately, no one will buy it. When people don´t know you, they judge you quickly and based on superficial things. Majority of the people do not want to try new things, they just want to find slightly different versions of things they already like. That is why novels from the same category always look the same and everyone wants to have Nordic crime writer on their roster.
If you become successful author, the meaning of the book´s name and cover diminishes but does not totally vanish. There will always be people who do not know you, although you are New York Times bestselling writer. When you have attracted enough people with your cover and catchy title, eventually your name as a writer becomes the main decision criteria. To get there is a long journey.
For a newcomer, this is important thing to point out. You have to first establish the reference point, before you can show how you are different.