Those of you new around here may not know this, but I periodically host fellow authors when they have a book release. If YOU have a book release and are interested in visiting, I suggest looking at the guidelines link in the GuesTart box to the right. Past Guests also includes some impressive people, INCLUDING... Russell Brooks, last time he had a book release.
Tomorrow though, Russell is releasing Unsavory Delicacies—Three Short Stories of Suspense. And so Just for YOU, Russell is getting Naked!!! Thank you so much, Russell, for the delightful show we're about to get!!!
by Russell Brooks.
One of the benefits of being an indie author is that we always have the final say on how our novels appear. That includes everything from story length to the cover art. Speaking of cover art, many of us were told when we were in elementary school that we should never judge a book by its cover. Yeah right. I’d love to track down the teachers that told me that and ask them how many books they’ve sold lately. The reality is that a book’s appeal has everything to do with the cover art, or more specifically, the visual aspects on a book cover. This may also include the author’s photograph.
Do author’s need to post sexy pictures of themselves in order to gain a platform? Sexy movie stars sell more movie tickets than the average-looking ones. Singers also use sex appeal to sell albums. Besides, is it really a coincidence that a nude full frontal picture of Chris Brown went viral over the internet around the same period that his new album was about to be released? I don’t think so.
So where does that leave authors? Could I have used the above picture as an author’s book cover picture? Yes. Had I used this picture, would I have sold more novels? Maybe. However, most authors are seen as intellectuals, and not as sex objects. I found no evidence that either Stephen King or James Patterson used sex appeal in order to gain a fan base. The shirtless picture of myself, had it been displayed on my book cover or in any other magazine, it may have helped me to sell more copies of my debut action/thriller, Pandora’s Succession. It’s also safe to assume that I would’ve attracted a different kind of audience at the risk of losing my integrity as an author. However, in the case of eBooks or print books, shoppers most likely may not have seen my picture because most people do not look beyond the book’s cover when they see a novel for the first time.
What’s important for authors is to have a kick-ass book cover. Whether authors are selling their novels online or in a bookstore, the first thing browsers will notice is the cover art. That’s a powerful way to attract new readers. When my cover designer, Carol Webb of FirebirdeBooks.com, asked me what I wanted on the cover of Unsavory Delicacies—Three Short Stories of Suspense, the image of a homicidal chef came to mind. This was because each of the short stories involved someone having a deadly or embarrassing experience within close proximity of the dinner table. This resulted in the picture seen on the right (Culinary Crimes was the initial title I thought of). When Carol emailed me this photo, my first impression was, “Blahh.” It didn’t impact me the way I was expecting. This is something that’s very important for me because my first impression may be the same impression thousands of potential buyers may have. And if it’s only a “blahh,” chances are I wouldn’t pique the curiosity of readers who would’ve enjoyed reading my book.
I was in a conversation with Carol’s business partner, Signe Nichols, the following day when she mentioned that Carol kept two back-up pictures of photographs that appealed to her in the event that she couldn’t find the initial one that I wanted. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked Signe to send them to me. What I saw blew me away and opened my mind to another type of book cover. I immediately emailed Carol and asked her to drop the first image. I spent some time making a rough draft of the preferred cover image and emailed it to Carol with some suggestions to help improve it—since I’m not a professional cover designer. The end result is what you see on the left. Not only does the image stick with my original theme, but it also has sex appeal. Certainly a lot more than the first cover image.
Will more shoppers notice this image over the previous one? I believe it would be safe to say so. Will this lead to more sales? It would be a safe bet to say “Yes.” I may not be the greatest marketing expert, but I’ve learned two important facts. The first is to never reinvent the wheel. The other fact that I’ve learned—and it is probably the most ancient of marketing techniques—is that sex sells. I’ve mentioned in the past that a great novel will have a story that elicits an emotional response from its reader. In my opinion, a great book cover should also elicit an emotional response from the potential reader.
As to whether I’ll ever put partially nude photos of myself on future hardcovers (no pun intended), I think I’ll pass because I won’t have to. I value my integrity as an author.
Unsavory Delicacies—Three Short Stories of Suspense, is now available as an eBook through Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Smashwords, and through RussellParkway.com. Russell Brooks is also the author of the action/thriller, Pandora’s Succession.
Links to buy Russell's Books
Thank you so much, Russell! That was fabulous! Don't forget, gang! R is for Russell!