Never underestimate the power of a great book cover. Do you know that your book cover has a big impact on marketing and advertising your book?
In today’s post, Crista Crawford shares with us how changing her book cover helped her move forward to marketing her book better.
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Shelley: Today I’m rolling out the red carpet and inviting you into my community for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s working for authors just like you.
In this episode, I want to position the spotlight on one of my members, Crista Crawford. Welcome, Crista!
Crista: Thank you for having me.
Shelley: Yes, you’re welcome. I’m excited.
We actually recorded a Focus to Finish session last week, and I forgot to press record. So, I was like, “Crista, we have to tell people about this and share some of the things we shared.” So, we’re doing a little bit different podcast today.
But I’m excited for Crista to share and I hope it’s inspiring to all of you. First, I just want to share a little bit about Crista, and then we’ll jump into today’s topic.
Crista is the author of the book The Full Armor of God, Are You Sure You Got Dressed Today? There’s also a workbook that corresponds with that book, and it’s called The Full Armor of God.
Crista found God at a young age, lost him through her teens and twenties, and discovered He actually never left in her 30s. So, it’s been a journey of learning into her 40s about just how much God loves her.
So, for this week’s Center Stage Spotlight Training, we’re going to be talking about why you should never underestimate the power of a good, and not just good but great, book cover.
Before we dive into this whole topic of book covers, just share a little bit of your journey as a published author and what lead you to write your book.
Crista: Well, in the 5th grade I found out I was a good writer through a teacher – they have an amazing impact on a kid.
Shelley: They do.
Crista: She said, “You’re a really good writer.” I said, “Great! I want to write a book about my life.” She said, “Hmm, probably not.”
Shelley: Wow, 5th grade.
Waiting for a “God” Idea
Crista: Yeah, 5th grade, didn’t have much to say. So, over the years I had all these ideas, and nothing panned out. I remember God basically telling me when my daughter was one, “You’re going to write a book for Me”. That was about 12 years ago.
I just kept asking, “Well, what is it? I’ve got a million topics underneath my bed, and nothing is working.” He still didn’t tell me what it was, and I realized I had to live more of my life.
So, there were some situations that happened, my husband left, and things like that took place, and then God finally said, “This – this is what you’re going to write about.” So, I didn’t know you couldn’t just sit down and write a book; I just did it.
Crista: Afterward, you have a bunch to do after you write the book. I’m kind of going backward now.
Shelley: God has different paths for each one of us. So how long has your book been published now?
Crista: It was in December of 2016 originally, and then I took the book back, and I’m now self-publishing and owning it, and redid it in December of 2017.
Shelley: OK, so you published it with a publisher in the beginning?
Crista: I did.
Shelley: OK, just share a little bit about that. What made you decide to move towards self-publishing?
Crista: Well, I wasn’t sure what to do. So, I Googled it like everybody else does.
Crista: This company came up, and it was a strange situation. God gave me the money and helped me pay for it. So, I had this vision in my head of a book cover I wanted, and the company said, “Here are the stock images that we pay for, pick something”.
There was nothing that was in my mind, so I picked these two images. But I put a little note next to it, “Hey, this is what I’m really wanting, this is what I’m really thinking”. No response and they just gave me my book cover with those two images.
So, I kind of was stuck with it. I kind of liked it at first and lived with it. Then something came out and I took my book back.
Impact of a Book Cover
Shelley: OK. And in the beginning, it’s just so exciting having a print book in your hands that’s your work. So, can you show us the cover, for those that are watching the video, your first cover?
Crista: Yes, this is my first cover.
Shelley: So, for those that are listening and not watching, maybe just explain a little bit of what the cover looks like.
Crista: So, I originally went with the subtitle, “Are You Sure You Got Dressed Today?” So, I picked a woman zipping up her dress, and then I picked a man. So, she’s on the top, and he’s on the bottom, adjusting his cuff with his watch.
They’re getting dressed. Not really thinking, originally, that it wasn’t as Christian looking as it should have been. But I didn’t see that. I thought, “I love the colors,”, I thought it was perfectly done.
Then, when I first released it, I was getting some comments that maybe it wasn’t the best.
Shelley: Being someone that has personally struggled with pornography, and I think I told you this in Author Audience Academy, and seeing the girl, it almost looks like she’s undoing her dress. It’s hard to know for sure.
That’s where sometimes you don’t know, and you just do it and take the first step. And the beauty with self-publishing is you can always update it. You can always change it, and I always say that the two things that are going to help your conversions on your sales page.
So, one of the issues is getting traffic to that sales page. The other issue is once they get there for them to click the buy button and actually, buy your book, and that’s a conversion.
So, the biggest things that will affect your conversions is your book cover and your book description. If you can update those, give those a makeover, it can really, potentially help you.
So, now you’re self-publishing, and you joined Author Audience Academy. You’re like, “I have another book, but I haven’t really marketed my first book.” So, you’re going through our Platform module and the marketing stuff.
What brought you to the thought of changing your cover?
Crista: It was kind of in the back of my mind. So, I left this company because I wanted the workbook companion and they wouldn’t let me have my cover.
Shelley: Oh, okay.
The Importance of Peer Feedback
Crista: I decided I needed to know how to do all of that. Then going through I’m thinking, “Maybe I should change the cover”, but I guess it’s too difficult.
Going through the modules, I thought I would put it out there, my book, on the Live Facebook Group and said, “Hey, this is my book, what do you guys think?” The feedback was what I already knew, so it was kind of heartbreaking because it was my baby.
Crista: I’m totally OK with it now.
Shelley: Yeah, it’s hard. I remember I was working on a book several years ago. This was a while ago, and I just had this cover that I just thought was amazing. I just loved it!
At the time I had a business partner, and I showed it to her just as the initial feedback, and she was like, “No. That’s not it.” I was like, “Really?”
But, it’s worth it to feel the sting a little bit. Sometimes it’s grieving too, for you. It’s a grieving of that particular book and what you invested in it. So, what did you decide to go with for your updated cover?
Crista: I was getting a lot of feedback about armor, and I was in some way trying to avoid that because my book was more delicate than just going out and fighting and stuff. So, I really was resisting that.
So, I poled some different sites, came on with a paid site, and found this picture of a girl in armor, but she’s in a position of “I’m ready whatever comes at me,” but it’s not ninjaing everybody or anything like that.
Crista: So, it’s kind of delicate, and what I was thinking I wanted.
Shelley: Why don’t you show us for those that are watching?
Crista: This is my cover.
Shelley: Awesome. Even the fonts and the design, and everything, it just looks more professional to me, but yeah, I love that.
Crista: I am going to go all the way around; I wanted it to be.
Shelley: Yeah that looks really good. So, the background is like a forest? Or trees?
Crista: Yes, a forest and trees. I would see an armor helmet, but it kind of drapes her long red hair, and she’s got a sword in between her hands. She’s gripping the top of it with the sword hanging down. Somebody in the group mentioned, “Boy, it looks like she’s forming a cross,” which I didn’t even look at.
Crista: Yeah, she really is, but her face is determined, and that’s what the book was about.
Shelley: Yeah, and so how did you feel when you got that book cover back?
Crista: Whew! It was so immediate. When I first found her, I said, “That’s it, that’s what I want.”
Shelley: So you knew?
Crista: I knew immediately. Then I went with the person you recommended and he, right off the cuff, gave it to me, and I said, “I love it, that’s just what I wanted.”
Shelley: For those that aren’t part of Author Audience Academy, I provide a lot of resources and I provide the person that I personally have used for a lot of my book covers. It’s not really expensive, but you can get a really good quality cover, and I rarely have edits that I’m asking them to do.
It’s really good. I love that. Where do you see yourself going from here?
Crista: Going through every module you have. Right now, I’m doing an Amazon ad.
Creating a Workbook Companion
Crista: So I’m excited about that. I just want the message to get out there. I’m quite close to being engaged and some things like that, but now I feel like I can go forward. Now I feel like I’m in a good place and can really market this book.
Shelley: And you also have the workbook. So, did you have the cover updated for the workbook as well?
Crista: I did.
Shelley: Oh, awesome. Yeah, so on the top, really big, it says, “Workbook Companion”, so you know right away this is the workbook.
If someone is listening, and maybe they’re part of a Bible study at church and might be interested in looking for books for group studies, how are your book and workbook used for those types of things?
Crista: I divide the book into 8 chapters, which makes it pretty easy to go through. And each chapter talks about the different pieces, and there’s an intro chapter and ending chapter. I just kind of pray through the whole thing while I was writing it, “Lord, You taught me this, tell me how to express it.”
So, the workbook goes with each chapter, and I really just prayed through that as well. I wanted the questions in there to be what I would have wanted to know.
I needed to ask myself, “Why was I not putting this on? What was stopping me? How was the enemy attacking me?” Then, just really open your mind to what is stopping you from wearing this? So, it kind of corresponds with each chapter.
Shelley: So, do they read the book chapter, and then each person would have a section of the workbook to go through on their own, and then discussion questions? How does that work?
Crista: So, it might be easier if I show you.
Crista: Each chapter, my daughters all drew a picture in each of my chapters.
Shelley: She drew it?
Crista: Yeah, that was my oldest daughter, she drew that.
Shelley: Wow. that’s so great, and I love that, how you’re incorporating your kids into that creative process too.
Crista: They want to know if they can draw in the new book, too.
So, this is chapter one. You can read the chapter and then answer these questions as you go through. It’s kind of a journal and it goes as you’re reading the book, of what questions to answer.
Shelley: So that’s a tip even for authors that are listening. If you have a book that would be great for book study, or group study, you can create a second workbook companion that’s more of a journal.
It could be called a journal, or it could be called like what Crista has, a workbook companion, and make it to where it’s interactive. I’ve found that my books that are interactive and that are really set up for group study have done really well.
In my Broken Crayons Still Color, I have discussion questions in the back, a leader’s guide, and I also have little videos where it’s fill in the blank. They fill it in as viewers guides.
Then, for journaling questions, they could journal on their own. I didn’t put space in the book for them to journal. It would be in a separate journal, but I totally could have created, and I’ve thought about it, creating a separate journal to do that.
So what kind of feedback and response have you been getting from your study?
Positive Reviews are Authors’ Treasures
Crista: Unbelievable. My book is about being attacked by the enemy, and he attacked me left and right trying to write this book.
Shelley: Yeah, I hear that a lot from Christian authors.
Crista: Yeah, this is an act of love, because I didn’t think it would happen. I’ve had such feedback from so many people that have felt unloved, unwanted, not worth of God, and that’s kind of where I was before.
I just had a lady call me, or contact me, and she said, “I loved your book. I’m heading to Bible study. I’m buying 25 of them, and 12 people want the workbook. I want you to come and teach.”
Crista: I thought, “If I can just get this into the hands of people,” and I’m really believing in the feedback that I’m getting. It’s giving me the courage to go forward. So, I appreciate that a lot.
Shelley: Yeah, a lot of times I recommend keeping a little folder with a success treasure chest. It’s actually one of my business coaches that recommended it to me years ago.
It could be positive reviews, emails you get, comments get on social media, and just anything that’s positive. Then, when you have those days where you’re like, “I wanna give up!” Go back and read through and remind yourself why you’re doing this.
So, all of you listening, I encourage you as well Crista, print that out, post it up, scan it or put it in a place. Gather these things so that you can remember, “yes, this is why I’m doing this.”
You have a full-time job, you’re a mom, you’re a busy person, right?
Crista: Yes, yes. It’s a miracle how this came to be, but yes.
Shelley: There are definitely reasons. As we’re winding down, what would you have for maybe a take action tip for our listeners today?
Take Action Tip: Never be Afraid to Ask for Feedback
Crista: I wouldn’t be stuck in what you’re comfortable with, or what you really think, “Well, this is what I think.” It’s important to get feedback, and as scary as it was to post that book and get feedback, I was so blessed by it.
It gave me the courage to say, “You know what, my book means so much more on the inside. I need to let people know just based on the outside”.
I didn’t want the outside to scare people away from the content. So, that really boosted my confidence. It did hurt, but it helped, so kind of bittersweet. At this end of it, please just get that feedback and just don’t assume that just because you like than everybody else is going to like it.
Shelley: Yeah, and in Author Audience Academy it’s a safe place. It’s a closed group. Your friends and family aren’t going to see this, but it’s over 100 other Christian authors and people that can give you loving advice.
We are all just there to help you.
So, if you’re part of Author Audience Academy, or if you want to join us, that is one of the things that I really recommend that you take advantage of – have that courage.
Some people will post, “This is my book description, what do you think?” It’s amazing how much better it is by the end, just because of the conversation and the feedback. Or, your book cover, that’s such a great thing to post in that kind of a group to get that feedback.
Like you said, do not be so tied to an idea that you’re not open to other ideas. I’ve approached authors before, and they were not open. I asked them, “Would you be willing to have feedback about your book?” It’s like, “OK, you know, that’s fine.”
But, be open. Be willing to receive some feedback and invest in a designer. Don’t just try to do it yourself. Invest in someone who really knows.
I even do graphic design now, but I will still send it to a graphic designer who has been doing this for a long time, because they’ll add things and do things that I wouldn’t have necessarily done. You know, even if I create some of the artwork, or do some of the components, I’m not just a book cover designer and they know better.
Do you know what I mean?
Crista: Oh, I know what you mean, yeah. In that Facebook group, I found the picture of the woman. I posted that, and I just had wonderful feedback. They were like, “This is it. This is wonderful. I love it.” So, I knew I was on the right track to go forward, so that really helps too.
Shelley: Yeah, because sometimes it’s a lonely process as an author. You’re sitting behind your computer, and you’re like, “OK, I think this is it but I’m not sure”. So just being able to get that immediate feedback of, “OK, I’m doing it. I’m going forward. This is what I’m doing,” is so helpful.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Where can people find you if they want to connect with you, maybe look into getting your book for a group study, or even for their own study?
Crista: I’m at www.cristacrawford.com/. I have it on there under a shop tag, so if people are wanting to do Bible studies, they can order that through me and depending on how many they get I can pair the two together at a discount.
Crista: Do the bulk buy, so if you don’t have to have the workbook.
Book Marketing Tip: Book Companion and Discounts
Shelley: Yeah, so that’s another little tip. If you write your book, you can do it in a way that it can have a companion but can still stand alone. People could either just get the book or get the workbook journal too to go along with it, and it’s offering more value.
Anytime you can help someone apply it. I recently went through a workbook and you know, I honestly kind of blew it off at first like, “Oh, I don’t know if I really need to have a print thing and write,” but it was so powerful!
Writing out the answers to the questions and going through, praying about it was just powerful. It was actually for an artist thing, but I was like, “Wow, that is just so powerful!”
It got my wheels turning for ideas even for me for later. So, it’s definitely a powerful thing to add, and I love the group discounts. I do that as well if people contact me, and because most of our books are published print on demand with CreateSpace or IngramSpark.
With CreateSpace, I can get books very inexpensively and pass on some of that discount to groups. So, it’s really a great thing to offer when you have a book that’s good for group study, and I love that you’re doing that.
Well, thank you again, so much, for coming on. Thank you for your courage to take the step to ask for feedback, and to apply it. I just can’t wait to see what God does with your book.
Crista: Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
Thank you all for being here and listening today. I hope you got a lot from this episode and I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments section.
Until next time!
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