Sell Your Book on Amazon – cover image

Take a look over to the right and see the cover of the second edition of SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON (it’s right below Self-Publishing Simplified).

That’s how the cover looks of the actual book. But, strangely, that’s not how I want the cover image to look on Amazon.  And this has to do with online marketing in the new millennium, combined with the aspect ratio of books in relationship to the aspect ratio of the graphic footprint Amazon uses on its sales pages.  In other words, a 6×9 rectangular book cover is not OPTIMAL for use within a 260 x 260 square space, which is the graphic footprint Amazon allocates for product images on its detail pages.   Showcasing portrait-shaped books results in a graphic that is 260 pixels HIGH, but only uses 50% of the available WIDTH.  In other words, most book covers on Amazon sacrifice some of the space Amazon is giving to them.  And let me tell you, with the number of shoppers on Amazon, that is some expensive square-footage going to waste.

So, the solution is to provide Amazon with a different graphic other than the “actual” graphic of the book cover — one that is square rather than rectangular.  Of course, most books are rectangular (portrait) so this means you must “change” the appearance of the cover.  You can either “squash it” so that the entire cover fits in a space that is 33% shorter. Or you crop off a portion of the cover in preference of greater online sales.  I opted for choice number 2.   So when SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON was first published in its first edition, I manually uploaded an alternate cover image (doing anything “different” through Ingram or Amazon requires some manual intervention). 

The cover at that time was slightly different.  The “a” in Amazon was lower-case and I had their little orange “curve” under the word. It wasn’t an arrow, but they apparently thought it was too close to their mark nonetheless and requested that I change the cover of my book.     Of course, I’ve seen other book covers that infringe upon that same exact mark in a manner much more obtrusively than I did, so why Amazon singled ME out is a subject I’ll leave for the conspiracy theorists. 

But in the past 2-3 months the original “trademarked, lower-case-‘a'” version of the book cover ended up on on Amazon again.  I know none of us at Outskirts Press made that change… so how did it get changed back to the version that was rejected by Amazon to begin with?  Another question for conspiracy theorists, perhaps….?

So anyway, that’s the cover anomaly I referred to in my previous post as something I wanted to fix with the Second Edition. Since I knew we had to update the image anyway, might as well make it the image for the Second Edition book, too.  

So below is the new image we’re uploading to Amazon specifically to re-address their trademark concern, which I already corrected but apparently need to correct again and also to re-introduce the square version of the graphic instead of the real-estate-wasting portrait version that 99.9% of all books on Amazon use.  (Hint: differentiating your book from 99.9% of the books on Amazon is a good thing).


Of course, the more observant readers may also notice another difference between the Amazon version of the graphic above and the “real” version to the right — other than the shape.  Yes, the Amazon version is a nice garish YELLOW.  And this brings me to one of the most wonderful things about marketing on the Internet — you can have your cake and eat it, too.

What do I mean by that?  I would never design an actual cover of a book to look like the image above. It’s too… well, “ugly” for lack of a better word.  I don’t want ugly babies, because I submit my babies to contests and awards and I want them to have a chance to win.  And win they do. Below is a run down of the awards Sell Your Book on Amazon has won:

  • Finalist – 2007 USA Book News Best Book Awards
  • Book of the Year – 2007 Royal Palm Literary Awards
  • First Place, How To – 2008 Readers Views Awards
  • First Place, Informational – 2007 Royal Palms
  • Finalist, How To – 2008 Indie Book Awards
  • Winner, Sales – 2008 Indie Book Awards
  •  So cover design is pretty important to me. But sadly, what makes an effective cover “in person” is not always the same as what makes an effective cover online.  That yellow sure is ugly, but when you’re scrolling through 25 books about self-publishing on Amazon’s search page, guess which image your eye is going to see first?  The big ugly yellow one…  So I can have a great actual cover that wins lots of awards (which Sell Your Book on Amazon has), and I can have an image on Amazon that attracts lots of attention. Having my cake and eating it, too.

    I’ve suggested this Amazon cover tactic to writers at seminars and during some of my presentations, and the concept of “altering” their book cover on Amazon doesn’t sit well with many of them.  They think it’s… I don’t know… breaking some unwritten rule or something.   They’re right! It’s breaking the unwritten rule that self-published authors don’t sell many books. And we’ll talk more about this tactic next time.

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