Creating The Perfect Book Identity

Writing a great book is the first step towards your success as an authority. But writing a book and getting it published is only step one. Getting someone to go into a bookstore, buy your book, and take it home to read is the next one. You can have the greatest information in the world, but if no one ever reads it, it will never make an impact. How do you make an impact, especially when you’re not standing in every bookstore across the country to sell it? You have to create a book that sells itself, and you do that by building the perfect book identity.

Every book has its own identity. Just as you have certain personality characteristics that make you who you are, your book also has a personality that is crucial in the process of attracting readers. There are key design elements you need to pay close attention to when forming your book’s identity. When a book is sitting on a shelf in a bookstore, it’s by itself.

pile of assorted-title books

You’re not there with it to explain why the book is great. There is no more sales effort you can do than what you’ve already done in building the book’s identity. The book ultimately has to speak for itself.

Think about when you meet someone for the first time. There are a lot of things that immediately run through your head, and you use that information to determine whether you want to take your relationship with this person further. That next step is either to accept that person as someone you want to talk to or determine it’s a person you want to blow off and have nothing to do with.

We all like to say we don’t judge people by what we initially see. But, the truth of the matter is, the way a person looks and talks, the message she gives, and even how she shakes your hand—if she gets to that point—all contribute to whether or not we initially like someone.

It’s the same concept with a book. When a reader sees a book, he immediately starts assessing whether this is the right piece of information for him. The book’s identity is broken up into many parts. Think about your book as if it were a person. What are all the things that make up your personality or your identity?

Each individual part can play a role in completing the book- buying process, just like every part of our body has its own function. Your hands can grab; your nose smells; your eyes see. With a book, each part of the book, each element you build, plays a specific role.

There are many items that make up a book’s identity—cover, interior, book size, page count, price point and even a bonus (if you have one).

How the book looks and feels and the messages displayed on it will determine whether your book gets picked up or not.

Remember, once your book is sitting on a bookstore shelf, it’s on its own, so you have to build a book that sells itself.

Jim Howard

To create the perfect identity, you have to understand the book-buying process. Once you know the process, it becomes easy to build each part of the book accordingly.

Brick and Mortar Book-buying Process

  • Get Prospects To Pick Up The Book
  • Have a Cover That Convinces Them To Flip The Book Over
  • Use Back Cover Copy To Convince Them To Look Inside
  • Finally, Use A Strategic Interior To Convince Them To Buy The Book.

Think about how you browse bookshelves inside a bookstore. You stand in front of a bookshelf tightly packed with books. Most of these books are spine out so all you can really see is the title. You pick out a book and pull it from the shelf. You glance at the cover, then, if you’re like most people, you’ll turn the book over and look at the back cover.

If you’re still intrigued and still like what you see, you will open the book to look at the table of contents, the first couple of chapters, or maybe flip through the pages to see what the interior looks like to get a sampling of how the book is written and the information inside.

That is the process most people go through when buying a book at the bookstore. The purchase decision could be made at any one of those steps, so each has to be thought through and built properly. You have to be conscious of the time factor too.

You have less than a second to grab a reader’s attention. There are a ton of books in a bookstore, each vying to grab the attention of the prospect’s scanning eyes. You want your book to reach out and grab the attention of that potential reader.

Once your book is picked up, you have less than three seconds to convince her to turn the book over. If the book doesn’t hook her within two or three seconds, she’s going to put it back on the shelf, and you’re going to lose that sale. If she turns the book over, you have a little more time to convince her she needs to take the next step by buying the book.

You can build the elements that will control the reader’s actions and lead her through the process. You don’t want her to put your book down. You want to keep giving her interesting bits of information to lead her to the next step, until, ultimately, she carries the book out of the bookstore and home.

If your book is only available only online, there are other factors to have to deal with because there are literally millions of books available through online resources.

The prospect doesn’t have the ability to pick up and look through your book.

With Amazon and other online bookstores, if you don’t get prospects intrigued by the title, cover and description, you’ll lose them quickly. There are even more things to consider when you only have the ability to sell online.

That will be a different article, for a different time, but whether selling online or in the physical bookstore, you never, ever want to skimp on your book’s identity because every author’s hope is to make an impact and getting it into the reader’s hands is absolutely necessary to do just that!

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Jim Howard

With over 30 years in commercial print, branding and publishing, Jim Howard has dedicated much of his life to helping entrepreneurs, CEOs and business owners move ahead in their business. Follow him at,

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