A small, critical suggestion about book covers and selling books, from a Stephen King fan.
Over the past few weeks, Scribner has been slowly unveiling the cover to the new Stephen King novel, Under the Dome, in small chunks. (Front, back cover and then the spine and the text.)
The final cover design can be seen here-
Granted, it’s a striking cover and will definitely stand out from the rest of the few dozen other books that will be on sale November 10. But personally? I don’t see what the big deal is about releasing the cover. After all, this is the new Stephen King novel! A huge one that weighs in at 1,088 pages. His other ‘paperweights’, IT, has 1,152 pages and The Stand, has 1,153 pages, respectively.
The book will sell. In fact, Stephen King’s name on a plain brown wrapper would sell.
To be fair, considering the current state of the economy, I can see the reasoning behind the move. Scribner, no doubt, would like a few hundred thousand people who haven’t yet read a Stephen King novel to try this one out.
Still, if it were me, in addition to the cover, I’d build up the novel over the next five weeks by releasing choice chapter excerpts in five different venues. For example, USA Today, The New York Times, TIME or Newsweek, maybe one of the better literary magazines, and just to spice it up, a small sample through Kindle. That way, the book attracts a much larger demographic of potential new readers than just a small web page on the internet showing off the cover. ( No offense to the marketing folks).
While I do understand the point of the big cover unveiling (attracting new readers), fans of King, while they may like the new cover, get Stephen King, to read Stephen King. I think (as a fan), that it would make more sense to release a five week teaser (with five different, exciting chapters) that will get everyone excited about November 10th, which is the release date of the novel. But that’s me.
If you are interested in an excerpt, 15 pages worth can be found in the back of the new paperback edition of his latest short story collection, Just After Sunset. There is one other excerpt scheduled in an upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly as well. But that hardly strikes me as an exciting build up to November 10. Though I could be wrong since there is still a full month left and all the campaign plans have yet to be released ( I have timed this cover critique with the date of the cover reveal).
While a great looking cover has been known to help sell a book, times have changed and the need to attract paying customers is more important than ever. While releasing 50 pages (over a five week period) to sell a 1,088 page novel VS. showing off one cover might not be a good marketing plan (for whatever reason), it would sure get ME interested in buying the book.
Especially if I had never bought a Stephen King book before now.
But that’s just my opinion. I do hope the book sells out since over the long term, it will help bookstores in these tough times.