5 Ways to Ensure Your Book Stands Out on the Shelf

When authors go to publish their books, they often focus solely on what they want and forget to consider their future readers. They choose the cover they like, the title they want, and write the synopsis as an afterthought in an effort to get their book published and start selling it as quickly as possible. They wait until the marketing phase to start thinking about how to get readers to buy their book, and they wonder why the sales aren’t rolling in. 

The thing is, writers should be thinking about their future audience during every stage of the writing, publishing, and marketing process. Yes, this is your book, but ultimately you are not the one who is going to buy it. Refusing or forgetting to consider your target audience will make it much more difficult to sell your book in the long run. 

Here are five things you should consider during the publishing phase to ensure your book stands out on the shelf and catches the attention of your target audience. 

1. Title

Believe it or not, many authors don’t put much thought into their titles. They falsely believe that it has very little bearing on someone’s decision to read a book. But with so many books out there on the market, every small detail becomes important. Your title is one of your first opportunities to catch a potential reader’s attention and entice them to look further. If your title is confusing, misleading, or worst of all, uninteresting—you lose this critical opportunity to gain a new reader. 

Writing a great title is all about spiking curiosity in the reader. It’s got to be catchy, easy to remember, and provide enough information without giving away too much. Your title should also be unique, so make sure you do some research to ensure there aren’t already books out there with the same title. 

2. Cover design

One of the most common mistakes authors make with their covers is that they want it to tell the whole story. They forget that the sole purpose of a cover is to draw a potential reader in and get them to take a closer look. Your cover should not be cluttered with every small detail of what’s in your book or falsely represent what the book is about. 

Instead, you should think about what would be attractive to your audience. What books are currently doing well in the market, and what do their covers look like? Are there any popular trends on your genre? What kinds of colors, fonts, and pictures would accurately represent the mood of your book? 

3. Description

Once you attract a reader with your title and description, the first place they will go for more information is the back cover. This is your best chance at enticing a reader to buy and read your book—so make it count. Don’t waste this space saying that your book is a “must-read” or using generic descriptions. Rather, consider the highlights of your book. What makes it unique? What aspects are the most interesting or crucial? How can you leave them wanting more, so much so that they have to read the book to find out what happens? Take a look at other book descriptions to get an idea of what you and readers find compelling. 

4. Reviews

When readers are on the fence about reading a book, they will often go to reviews to see what others thought about your book. While you can’t control what they say, you can offer good ones right on the back cover to further convince readers that this book is worth the read. But how do you get reviews before your book is even published? Many authors will give away Advance Review Copies (ARCs) of their books to acquire book reviews, advertise to bookstores and libraries, and garner excitement prior to a book’s release. That way, if you receive glowing reviews from readers or fellow authors, you can include them directly on your book or in your marketing efforts to further entice people to pick up your book. 

5. Interior design

Lastly, if you have a nonfiction, children’s, or any book that would benefit from some form of interior design or illustration, you should consider this as well. Good illustration, formatting, or photos will go a long way in making your book stand out. Oftentimes, an eye-catching design will be even more influential to a reader’s decision than the written word. Making sure you have an illustrator that fits with the tone of your book or a format that makes your book more accessible will be crucial to influencing the buyer’s decision. 

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  • Great information - Thank You! I am a first time writer just having finished my incredible life story: "Naked in the Middle of a Tornado: The True Story of One Family's Unbelievable Fight Against Polycystic kidney Disease (PKD)". I now have a starting point.