I saw another book launch the other day by a “guru” whose cover thoroughly sucked. It was off-centered, slanted, horrible colors, the title was hard to read, and frankly it looked like the guru himself created his own cover in Microsoft Word (which is a huge  no-no in publishing). Frankly, I’m sick and tired of big-name “gurus” putting out crappy book covers (and sometimes crappy books).

You’ve seen it before; an internet marketing guru is well known and builds a huge following. Then they finally decide to put their expertise down in a book to solidify their expert status and send their message out to a different market. This in itself is all good, and I’m glad they’re doing it! More people need to learn from gurus who have truly been-there-done-that. My issue is when these gurus make it seem like anyone can publish a book that looks like crap and get the same results and massive sales they are getting. This is simply not true. Guru’s book covers can afford to suck, but first-time (and even second-time) authors’ cannot. Here’s why:

  1. Gurus are, well, gurus. Gurus have spent years building a trusting fan base and following. Many of them have tens of thousands of people on their email lists and fans on Facebook. And most of those people will buy anything—and I mean anything—the guru publishes, no matter what it looks like. Now, not all gurus are created equal. Many gurus recognize the value in promoting their image as quality service providers and trainers rather than shabby and cheap. The bottom line is, unless you’re already a guru, you’d better expect to invest a little in a professional book cover. And if you are a guru, don’t think you can publish crappy looking books and expect to keep reaching a wider audience. Most people who purchase a book with a horrible cover already know the author, and don’t care about first impressions. But there are about six billion other people on this earth who do care about first impressions, so make a good one with a good, clean, professional cover.
  2. Gurus are cheap. Many high level multi-millionaire gurus I’ve seen cut corners. I don’t know if it’s that they want to keep more of their money or if money becomes a primary concern over benefiting other people, but I’ve seen it happen time and time before. When gurus are cheap and don’t invest in themselves and their reputation toward people who don’t know them, they send out the impression that they themselves and what they have to offer is cheap. I’ve heard a lot of people say they’d rather pay more for a higher quality product or service in a bad economy than just save a buck because something is cheap. Is “cheap” really the impression you want to give your audience? It might be, if your audience is savvy moms always seeking that next coupon (which is not a bad thing). But if your audience consists of professionals seeking to learn from a professional, make a good first impression to them by investing in your book cover.
  3. Gurus often assume everyone will buy their stuff because of who they are. You may have heard the saying, “She got too big for her britches,” and unfortunately many gurus can come dangerously close to crossing this line. Please, if I ever lean in this direction, slap me! It’s so sad when a guru just assumes they’re a big enough name everyone will buy their stuff. Celebrities often fall into this trap, as do politicians, and traditional publishers fuel this fire by publishing people whose books they “assume” an audience will purchase. As soon as you catch yourself starting to make assumptions about your audience, notice it, reel that thought in, and remind yourself that every individual is unique and different, and while hundreds of people online may love you, there will always be some who you need to convince.

Remember that first impressions always count, no matter who you are. People are quick to judge and slow to trust. Customers are willing to spend more money to get a higher quality service, but if that service matches the low quality you’re already putting out in the form of your book, you have just lost a great customer. Know your market, and establish yourself as an expert by competing with other professionally-designed books in your niche. Your audience will grow faster and thank you for the value you bring to them!

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.

One Comment

  • Phil Simon says:

    …and gurus are arrogant. Many think that they know how to write a book, so how hard can a cover be? Silly… The smartest people often realize that they’re not that smart.

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