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How To Use Facebook Ads to Test Your Book Cover Design

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Facebook remains one of the best social media marketing tools that authors and publishers have at their disposal. Just to rattle off a few obvious uses: you can find communities of like-minded authors to provide critical support, you can use it to set up a fan page, and even organize live events through it. Perhaps most critically, you can make use of Facebook advertising to target prospective readers based on interests, location, and any other demographic category you can think of. In this post, however, we will quickly look at how Facebook can help you perfect your book cover design in a data-driven fashion.

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What Makes One Book Cover Design “Better” Than the Other?

What is an indie author’s goal? If the answer is “sell more books,” then a good book cover is one that sells more books. Professional designers do a lot of small things that contribute to the effectiveness of a cover, but it often boils down to two things: impact and communication.

  1. Impact: Will the design stand out when a Facebook user (or book buyer) quickly scrolls past it?
  2. Communication: At a quick glance, can the observer understand the title, the author’s name, and the genre of the book?

That very last point is crucial: if you’re targeting your adverts at fans of James Patterson’s crime novels, your book cover design must communicate the fact that your book is something along those lines.

Running Your Own Tests

Here, we’re talking about A/B testing (or split testing), where you produce two versions of the same thing but with one minor difference to see the impact of that change. The smaller the change, the more useful your learning will be.

Here are a few things you could split-test for your book cover:

● Title font: serif vs. sans-serif

● Title size: A large title vs. a smaller one

● Color scheme: a cold, bluish cover vs. a warm, yellow one.

● Image: photography vs. illustration

There is no right answer to any of these: the point of the test is to see how your target audience responds. If you just want to choose between two cover concepts you’ve already created, you can do what we did and just simply pit them against each other.

Book Cover Redesign Experiment

We recently ran an experiment to determine the actual marketing value of book covers created by experienced designers. To do this, we had our own Reedsy professionals redesign four self-published book covers, with an eye toward attracting the books’ target audiences on Facebook.

Once a new cover was completed, we created two Facebook ads with identical copy that targeted the same audience (gender, age, location, interests). The only difference was the cover image displayed in the ad.

Over the course of a week, we exposed both ads to 1,000 users. By tracking how many users clicked on the ‘Download’ button, we would determine the covers that were more effective as a marketing asset.

In the whole experiment, the new design for the non-fiction book was 12.5% more effective at attracting its intended audience by employing clearer, larger typography, and hews closer to the aesthetic of contemporary non-fiction. Ads for Romance, YA Fantasy, and Mystery novels featuring the redesigned covers were up to 53% more effective than those with the original covers. In short, we were able to demonstrate the immediate effect of an optimized book cover.

To some, book cover design is a subjective art—what works for one reader might not work for another. And to a certain extent, that is true. However, tests like the ones we’ve outlined above can give you insight into what works for most people—and offer you a data-driven method to help your book live up to its potential.

Give it a go. Apart from five dollars, what have you got to lose?


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Martin Cavannagh

Martin Cavannagh is a writer with Reedsy who works with freelance editors, cover designers, and book marketers. When he’s not writing fiction, he educates new authors on everything from the basics of writing a book to the nitty-gritty of ebook retailing.