8 Seconds To Grab A Reader’s Attention

Dr. Purushothaman
October 1, 2013

A potential buyer picks up your book or views it on a website. Did you know you have only 8 seconds to grab his attention?

When an interested person considers buying your book, she will go through a series of quick decisions before determining if the book is a worthwhile investment of her time and money. This decision making process begins with an appraisal of the book cover.

What is the buyer looking for?

First, he is looking for a professional book cover. The book must appear ‘real’; similar to other books he sees in stores or in libraries. If the cover looks cheap or homemade, he will be subconsciously repelled and suspicious about the quality of the work.

The next consideration is the feel or energy of the cover. Does the design convey the emotions that the reader seeks? For example, a thriller should radiate an aura of mystery; a business book should imply professionalism and confidence, and a self-help book should promise optimism. The colors, fonts, and style of the cover design must be carefully selected to communicate the proper feel.

The reader will also look at the front and back cover to get an overview of the content of the book. She will want to determine if the book sounds interesting, if it will solve a problem or entertain her, or if it will be an enjoyable read. If the copy on the back cover is dull or flat, the potential buyer will assume the rest of the book is boring.

Another area buyers evaluate is confirmation from other readers. Testimonials, endorsements, and quotations provide important social proof that the others have read the book and enjoyed it. Book buyers are more likely to invest in a book that has a proven record of other happy readers.

Next, the reader will check the author's photo and brief biography on the back cover. He will be asking these questions:
• Who wrote this book?
• Why should I listen to this author?
• Does the author have the right education or experience to write this book?
• Will the author waste my time and hard-earned money, or give me great value for my investment in this book?
• Does the author look friendly, approachable, and credible?

The savvy author will invest in a professional headshot for each book cover. If your author's photo makes you look stodgy, boring, or outlandish, potential buyers may be repelled. If there is no author photo, readers may wonder if you are not proud of your work, have an ugly mug, or are trying to hide something.

Book Buyers make these five decisions in 8 seconds. You have little time to correct a bad first impression of your book.

One of the most important investments an author or publisher can make for a book is a professionally designed cover created by an experienced cover designer. Sure, you could save some money and try to design something on your computer, use a pre-fabricated template, or have your nephew draw something. However, your book sales will be seriously impacted, costing you more money in lost sales.

The old adage says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Yet in today’s busy marketplace, buyers do judge a book by its cover and only allow a few seconds to make that decision.

When you select a quality cover for your book, your book will pass the 8-second test and look appealing to future buyers. Then, the words inside your book will get the attention that they deserve.


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