In our quest to launch the best-selling software development book of all time, my business partner John and I have spent a ridiculous amount of time on designing the perfect cover.
This might seem like one of those gigantic time-wasters, kinda like the way first-time business owners spend their first 12 weeks designing a logo and business cards…
That's not the case though.
The cover of a book is one of those points of huge leverage—a lot like the headline of a sales page, or the subject line of an email.
It's gotta grab the reader's attention and hold it long enough for them to check out what's inside.
Knowing that doesn't make the process of finding a great cover any easier, though.
The first stop on this loooooong slow train ride was working with a designer that had been recommended to us.
I gave her as much background as I could on what we wanted, and then we went through three different rounds of concepts and revisions.
They were all pretty… how to put it?
They were OK, but none really grabbed my attention and screamed “best seller!”
Finally we pulled the plug on that arrangement and went over 99Designs.com.
If you've never used this site before, it's pretty cool.
You create a contest for whatever you want to have created—logo, business cards, book cover, etc.
Then multiple designers submit ideas—for this contest we had at least a couple of dozen designers competing for the prize.
The beauty of this is you're not limited to one person's ideas. You get to see 30-50 different concepts, and you can start to weed out the weak ones and refine the stronger ones.
The downside is it takes a lot of work to manage all this. John and I spent several hours reviewing designs and giving designers feedback.
Finally we narrowed it down to 5 different major “groups” of designs—”light” designs with a white background, “dark” designs with a black background, designs that incorporated a photo, etc.
At this point John and I both had our favorites.
There was one design in particular that I absolutely loved—crisp, bold white and orange text on a black background that looked exactly like something you'd see on the New York Times bestseller list.
John had a theory that this one bright orange design (which neither of us really *liked* aesthetically) might be the most attention-getting.
We both know better than to rely on guesswork though.
So the next thing we did was to ask our audience for their input.
99 Designs has a feature where you can pick up to 8 designs and add them to a poll.
I blasted the poll out to 63,569 of my closest friends, and we sat back and waited to for the results…
(to be continued)