July, a month known for its hot weather, weekends at the cottage and yard sales. Every weekend you can find colourful signs on telephone posts advertising the local yard sale.
As I see these signs, I find a similarity between preparing for a yard sale and preparing a book. Is the sign (book cover) eye-catching or will the potential customer just drive by? Does it provide the information you need at a quick glance?
Over the years, the one thing that bothered me with yard sale signs was that most were badly put together. Either they were loaded with too much information or the simple information consisted of large hollow block-lettered words made with regular thin markers. If the colour within the hollow letters is the same colour as the background, or if the markers used are not extra wide, no one will see them driving by. And if no one sees them driving by, it’s a waste of paper and lost advertising. It is a well known fact that it only takes three seconds to make a first impression. The next time you have a yard sale, stand ten feet from your sign and see if you can read it and get the pertinent information in less than 3 seconds. Likewise, in designing your book cover, take a gander at your local book store and look at the books in your genre. What catches your eye immediately in all areas – cover and spine, colours, fonts, style?
What you have at your yard sale is similar to the content of your book. There will be “fluff stuff”. These are not necessarily valuable, but are there to give your yard sale some substance and filler. The “meat” of the sale - what people come for – is the “nuggets and gems”, and of course each visitor will be intrigued by something different. You have to have enough of the nuggets and gems, these treasures to keep your customers’ (your readers’) interest. And how will you place and price your items to entice your customer to stay and explore? To move curiously from one table to the next?
It takes planning to have a successful yard sale as it does to have a successful book. After all, your goal is to have your customer feel good that he dropped by and leave with something.