Self-published novelist R.L. Mathewson initially published Playing for Keeps with a plain blue and white cover, but saw a significant sales spike in the iBookstore once she added a steamy Shutterstock photo to her cover (embedded below).
Smashwords founder Mark Coker outlined the sales spike in a chart in his second annual Money Money Money presentation about Smashwords sales (complete slideshow embedded above). We caught up with Mathewson to get some cover design advice from the independent author:
The new covers caught the readers eye and it helped clear up any confusion they may have had about the books. The new cover along with the price helped the books sell. I would say that you should avoid covers that cause confusion, are horrible to look at, too plain, or too over the top. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good cover, but you do need something that can help draw attention to your book and intrigue someone to take a chance on your work.
The Mathewson book cover statistics can be found in slide No. 43 in Coker’s presentation. Here’s more about the Smashwords study:
Authors and publishers can use the findings in this presentation to maximize the discoverability, desireability and sales of their ebooks. The presentation was given at the RT Booklovers convention in Kansas City on May 2, 2013. It analyzes an 11-month chunk of Smashwords sales data covering over 120,000 books, and aggregated across multiple Smashwords retailers (Apple iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Diesel, Smashwords.com), to identify data-driven metrics that might reveal new viral catalysts that authors can put to work to make their books more available, discoverable and enjoyable to readers by utilizing the right combination of viral catalysts, authors can maximize reader reader word-of-mouth.