Which is more important…


…the cover or the book’s content?

Quite simply, if a story is not up to scratch, no amount of money spent on a cover and an ad campaign will help sell what is in effect, a lame duck! – (cardinal rule of publishing)


If you listen to some writers who swallow everything they are told, hook line and sinker about spending money to market their books, the one thing they are adamant about is that it always takes precedence over the book’s content. This line of thought is nothing more or less than complete bulldust, designed to hook the gullible!

If your editing skills are not up to scratch, by all means pay to have your MS edited if you must. But that’s all you should be paying for!

All serious writers and bibliophiles know and have always known that the story is alway more important. Do you honestly imagine that the cover and marketing are the first thing reputable publishers think about??? These days there is far too much emphasis placed on how a book’s cover looks, as well as promotional video clips.

As I said in yesterday’s post – Let’s face facts, if a story doesn’t sell itself, there is no point whatsoever in pouring good money after bad by trying to improve its visual packaging in an attempt to make it stand out from the crowd in an already saturated marketplace! The only publications with pretty pictures I know that sell well are called glossy magazines or Bimbo fodder to you and I. When it comes to pictorial covers, those of us who have been in this game for several decades are all guilty of changing them in the past, hoping to shift more copies. Does it majorly improve any book’s chances? Rarely if ever…

Whether you like it or not the words contained within the book are what’s important, not the damned cover or how much money you spent on marketing! One last thing – before you see any financial profit from sales of your book, first you have to recoup your outgoings.

So if for arguments sake you spend the conservative figure of £200 on cover and marketing, and the paperback version is priced at £8.00, work out the number of copies you will need to sell, based on the bog standard royalty percentages shown below, just to break even.

Hardback edition: 10% of the retail price on the first 5,000 copies; 12.5% for the next 5,000 copies sold, then 15% for all further copies sold. Paperback: 8% of retail price on the first 150,000 copies sold, then 10% thereafter.

For god’s sake do the math!!!

At the risk of repeating myself yet again, ask yourself which is more important – the cover and the advertising, or the book’s content?

It’s a no brainer, always assuming you have a brain and know how to use it in the first place. Many independent writers never sell enough copies to recoup their outgoings. And yet they still insist on pouring good money after bad. Their completely unfathomable actions remind me of the old saying – “a fool and his money are soon parted”.


10 thoughts on “Which is more important…

  1. In a perfect world, this would be true, but humans are and have always been, swayed by appearances. I don’t care if your story is the best thing that’s ever been written- if you can’t get people to take notice enough to read it, they’re not going to. This is the fundamental rule of advertising. Think about all the brands you’re familiar with. You know them by sight. You know them because their logos, their commercials, their jingles, etc are catchy and familiar. If people were all blind and we had only Braille to judge a story with, covers wouldn’t matter. But then again, we are creatures of first impressions so they’d probably be swayed by the smoothest, luxury Braille.

    Not all of us who invest in marketing are brainless idiots, by the way. I happen to be a fantastic writer, but I’m also a realist. No matter how good it is, it’s not going to get noticed in this saturated publishing market without good advertising.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If that’s what you believe Mysti, good luck… By the way, have you ever managed to recoup your financial outlay for any of your books from the handful of sales you have when you attend the book fair’s you frequent? I bet you haven’t. 😉


      • Yep, sure have. I actually don’t attend that many paid book fairs now. I get invited to several free ones. And I’m doing pretty well with the latest book too. I also don’t judge others for how they go about their book business. It’s up to them how to do things. I’m learning what work and what doesn’t. Getting better every year.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post, Jack. Unfortunately, people will still buy a book without really taking a good look at what’s inside. I do use the ‘What’s Inside” feature on Amazon, and have avoided some big mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thousands never bother to read the first few pages Noelle. Sadly most of today’s authors still persist in the belief that a pretty picture on the cover is what sells it. We both know that isn’t the case… 😉


  3. The best kind of publicity is still ‘Free’. Take a look at the accompanying link from the American television series Scorpion. In particular tak a look at the book in the snoozing man’s arms. It’s written by one of our very own here in the UK – Michael Jecks. Now that’s the way advertising should always be. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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