Design’s Role in Book Marketing Success

Posted April 17th @ 12:03 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Learn more about Barry Feldman and Seth Price's The Road to Recognition: The A-to-Z Guide to Personal Branding for Accelerating Your Professional Success in the Age of Digital MediaDesign plays a major role in book marketing success, as Barry Feldman’s and Seth Price’s The Road to Recognition shows.

Design’s role in book marketing success extends far beyond book cover design.

Although authors often think of design strictly in terms of book covers, design can make a major contribution to your book’s success long before (and after) your book’s release date. Here’s why:

First, a significant amount of time often goes by between the time a book contract is signed and its publication date.

Second, pre-publication orders are counted and shipped on the book’s publication date. This creates a momentum that continues to gather speed.

The role of design was one of the key topics Barry Feldman and I discussed when I interviewed him on the eve of his The Road to Recognition’s launch. Here’s where you can access a recording of the interview.

There are 5 ways design paved the way for The Road to Recognition’s successful launch.

1.  Design can make your book easier to write

Design provides a structure for planning and writing.

It provides a framework that simplifies planning your book. It replaces the uncertainty of questions like, “How are we going to organize the chapters?” and “What should we put in this chapter?” with specific questions like “What are the 26 main ideas we’re going to discuss?”

The sooner you identify an appropriate structure for your book, the sooner you can get down to writing the first draft of your book.

The Road to Recognition is an “alphabet book.” It addresses 26 topics, one for each letter of the alphabet. This approach eliminates time-consuming indecision and which often sabotages a book’s success before the first page has been written.

  • Too many subject area experts never publish a book because they haven’t chosen a structure for it.
  • These otherwise-qualified experts have lots of ideas, but no way to organize them. As a result, their experience and expertise goes unrewarded.

The “alphabet approach” puts the power of limitations to work! Whether you choose an “alphabet” structure like Barry and Seth did, a 42 Rules structure, or a 140-ideas expressed in 140 characters approach, you’ll find that limiting your options can force you identify a point of view.

The choice of structure also moved The Road to Recognition forward by providing the book’s graphic team with the information they needed to create the icons, or design vocabulary, needed to provide a unique graphic for each chapter. The graphic above displays 10 of the 26 graphics. Note their similarities as well as their differences. Some of the backgrounds are white, some gray, some yellow, and some black. Yet, there are more similarities than differences.

During the interview Barry discussed how and when they settled on the “alphabet” approach and selected the 26 terms they used for The Road to Recognition’s structure.

2. Design can make your book easier to read

There are three ways design contributes to readability, the ease with which readers can proceed through the text.

1. White space. The starting point involves providing plenty of white space on each page, particularly at the page margins and surrounding text and graphics.

–  White space provides a resting spot for your reader’s eyes while highlighting the text.
–  White space between lines and paragraph also increases text readability by making it easier for readers to quickly recognize word shapes and separate paragraphs.

2. Chunking. A second readability technique involves chunking, or replacing long paragraphs and text passages with lists and short paragraphs.

You can also call attention to new ideas by inserting subheads set in a contrasting typeface

Both techniques help you avoid the dreaded textbook-like “wall of gray” frequently encountered in published books.

3. Changing page layouts A third way to use make a book easier to read involves using different page layouts and typography to indicate the section of the chapter they’re currently reading.

This helps readers enjoy a feeling of “fresh start” and feeling of progress as they proceed through each chapter

Each chapter in The Road to Recognition includes three different layout and formatting options which change to indicate the types of information in each section.

Introduction. Each of the 26  chapters, or topics, begins with a two-page “minimalist” opening spread.

The left-hand page contains a stylized graphic of the character associated with the chapter, paired with a concise summary of the topic’s relevance.

Influencer quote or perspective. The next two page spread contains a high-visibility marketer’s photograph and their perspective on the topic.

Overview. The next 2-page spread provides an overview of the topics’s key characteristics and relevance, followed by 2, 4, or 6 pages of helpful advice about working with the topic.

3. Design can add visual interest to your book

The Road to Recognition uses design to provide readers with a pleasant sense of serendipity, or “surprise,” as they proceed through the 26 topics.

There’s also a pleasant sense of predictability to each page. You can open The Road to Recognition at any point, and quickly find yourself engaged by both the words and the layout.

Although the page structures remain consistent, and the topics are serious, there is a sense of “design playfulness” at work.

  • Alphabet drawings. As you saw in the illustration of 10 of the 26 letters associated with each topic, each character fits the same amount of space and shares characteristics with other letters, yet the backgrounds differ, and color is used in different ways to differentiate the letters.
  • Table of contents. Note the horizontal, rather than vertical, relationship between the “Contents” headline and the individual topics. Note the yellow highlighting of the topics. Finally, note the right alignment of the page numbers. This prevents 3-digit page numbers from overshadowing 2-digit numbers.
  • Expert perspectives. Another design element that adds serendipity involves the formatting of the 2-page Expert Perspective pages. The backgrounds change and the type size varies, depending on the edited length of the quotes. is the key element

4. Design can create a brand for your book

Long before the publication of The Road to Recognition, the authors were creating The Road to Recognition website which reflected the book’s key visual branding elements, such as:

  • Bold contrast between the yellow, black, and white first encountered on the front cover, but reinforced on almost every page.
  • Clean design, lots of white space
  • Contrasting type sizes frequently used in close proximity to each other

Influencer marketing

Early creation of the website permitted pre-launch marketing projects that make it easy for others to promote the The Road to Recognition. This included customized Sharable Images that Influencers can download include in their newsletter or social media. Visit The Road to Recognition site, click on Media link, then scroll down to view.

Another key early book marketing project was creating an attractive downloadable infographic that tells The Road to Recognition’s story.

The infographic has already run in influential blogs like The Huffington Post and Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert.

5. Design can build anticipation for your book

Why so much effort to build a book’s brand before publication?

One answers might be that creating and producing quality content and design takes time. As a result, marketing resources must be ready before a book’s publication date.

Another answer is that ready-to-share resources make it easy to involve other marketers in your book launch program. The more your message is spread by the influencers in your field, the more successful your book launch will be.

The most important, reason, however, is that
familiarity builds comfort and trust.

Your biggest competitor is the buyer’s concern that your product or service won’t satisfy their needs.

To the extent that your pre-launch marketing materials pre-sell the quality and value of your book, you are replacing uncertainty with certainty, proving that the topics you cover in your book are a) endorsed by other marketing experts, and b) are relevant to addressing your markets challenges and goals.

Learn more about the role of design in marketing your book!

The recorded interview with Barry Feldman, co-author (with Seth Price), of The Road to Recognition: The A-to-Z Guide to Personal Branding and Accelerating Your Personal Success Career in the Age of Digital Media is for you if you want to know more about:

  1. Personal branding. You recognize the need to build your personal brand, but don’t know where to start. You’re looking for a road map that covers the 26 most important topics you need to explore.
  2. Book marketing.  You’ve written a book to build your personal brand, or are writing a book, but don’t know how to bring it to the attention who could most benefit from it.
  3. Positioning your book in a crowded market. Not only do today’s authors have to bring their book to the attention of their target market, they have to differentiate their book book from competing books. Design can be the “secret sauce” that separates your book from the competition.
  4. Latest information. Barry Feldman is a seasoned copywriter who has worked with the leading high tech clients and marketing agencies. His writing appears in top marketing blogs like the Content Marketing Institute, the Marketing Profs, Hubspot, the Social Media Examiner, and Copyblogger.

After listening to the interview, and/or reading The Road to Recognition, share your comments and impressions below.

Related topic: For more information, see Branding Tips from the Road to Recognition.

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