Style over content

I’m a newbie here, fresh to the world of Wattpad and online publishing… I’m also verrry oldskool in that I’m generally not swayed by flash covers (these aren’t comics, after all so the artwork is not representative of the story) so I’m questioning the necessity of these covers. I’m a photographer so will probably be using some of my photos to act as de facto covers for my work but I can’t help but notice that there’s almost an industry where people are creating fantastic covers for stories to attract readers… but just because someone’s clicked on a story that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve liked it, surely?
Am I missing the point of Wattpad entirely as I’m not overly bothered by the number of hits per se but whether people have enjoyed the stories. (this probably stems from my UX days lol) Feedback, to me, is far more important. Did you like the story, etc -if so why?

As a disclaimer - I’m not making a comment on those people who have flash covers at all. To be fair, I’ve not had much of a chance to explore the site (save from setting up my own profile). I’m genuinely interested in the concept!

Firstly, welcome to Wattpad :partying_face: :tada:

You raise some really interesting questions here, and I’ve been active on the site for 6 months or so (so still fairly new), and I 100% had these same questions in my earlier days.

Nope. I’m sure plenty of people have clicked on a story because they thought the cover was cool, then had no interested in the story itself.

I think the key here is the attracting readers piece. Reality is that people judge a book by its cover - physical or digital - and on a site where there are literally millions of books, you need to make yours stand out. An interesting cover is the easiest way to do that.

For me, having an interesting cover isn’t about having loads of clicks. It’s about attracting readers who would be interested in what I’m putting out there. Sure, it may lead to some stragglers who then read my blurb, the first chapter, whatever and immediately click off, but the key is that initial spark of interest. You can have the best, most incredible, relatable, inspiring story ever, but people still need to find it, y’know?

Same here, hands down. I just also need readers to be intrigued enough to click onto my book in the first place, in order for them to then give me feedback.

Also, making covers is fun :woman_shrugging:

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The reason that there might be a lot fantastic covers is because its one of the best ways to grab the eye of a possible reader. Since there’s a lot of stories on the sights, I find that I want my cover to stick out and grab someone’s attention since its the first thing a reader sees. Next is the blurb (or if they’re like me and skip blurbs the first chapter).

I usually deal with a lot of silent readers but feedback is important, its just that general its harder to get the feedback unless the book is already popular or theres the clubs and reads4reads

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I agree with all of the above: covers are important because they are the first thing readers see. If the cover sparks their interest, they might just click on the book. However, if the blurb and first chapter(s) are disappointing, you’ll still lose potential readers. So yeah, it is advisable to make an attractive cover, as long as you take care of the rest as well.

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Every piece that goes into a book matters. The cover, blurb, story, etc. It all needs to be taken care of in a way to help the story stand out and be loved by readers.

I’m a visual person. If I go onto the wattpad home page, I don’t see titles. I don’t see blurbs. All I see are covers and the cover has to speak to me for me to be interested in the blurb. Once the blurb captures my attention, the story is up next to hook me into the story itself.

I do judge a book by its cover because covers give a visual representation of the story. It’s the first thing every reader sees on the home page now.

A cover doesn’t guarantee they will like your story but it’s a good start. It made them click on the story to begin with. The next would be focusing on the story and making it the best you can. It all comes together in the end to make for a good book.

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Thanks for the replies - Like I said, I am old school and have never gone by the “judge a book by its cover”. I would tend to read the synopsis and take it from there. A lot of the covers tend to be very generic (ie/ eye candy with very little depth) but then it’s not the kind of fiction I would tend to read in ‘real life’ either.

Let’s put this in context - I don’t have a smart phone or a kindle!! Lmao!!!

The only time a book cover caught my eye was the novel Shogun by James Clavell… it was a striking image of a shinto shrine in silhouette on a bright red background… Wow… I picked it up off the shelf and read the blurb -BANG!! Otherwise the rest of the time I tend to follow specific writers (and 90% of the time the covers of the novels were pretty awful, however the contents were awesome!)

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of readership I’ll attract. I might see if I can become more or a presence here on the forums and entice people by my cogent statements and erudite replies… (on second thoughts I might have to start learning graphic design!!)

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I’m the opposite of you. I’ve seen very few covers on WP that impressed me. It’s the premise that gets me, but you can’t get to the premise of a book around here until you click the cover. I wish WP was like Goodreads in that when you hover over a cover you get the entire book blurb in a tooltip. Until they add such a feature, book covers are what will have to attract our attention. ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯

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I’d be happy to make you a cover and see how you like it? Just for interest’s sake. I make all my own and have made quite a few for other writers too :slight_smile:

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That’s very kind of you (and I may take you up on that down the line, if that’s ok…); at the moment I’m considering this a kind of social experiment (bwa ha ha haaa)

I’m really just dipping my toe into the water atm.

Btw - I’ve just had a look at your profile and wondered how I can read your stories? Your Dark Puzzles sound interesting!! There doesn’t seem to be a link from the Community to the site itself…

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That’s fair enough :slight_smile:
Here’s a little form thing for you to fill in (I find it easier to work with when it’s structured)

Title:
Author:
Blurb/short description:
Genre:
Details you think may be important for the cover (optional):

Wattpad has millions books. The more the book is clicked on, the more people see it. The more people see it, the more feedback you get. Without cover, your story will never be noticed—a good 50% of all Wattpad stories have under ten views.

Obviously, you can join a book club, and only get feedback only from it as well.

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Well if we are talking “old school” - in a traditional bookstore, something makes you pick a book off the shelf versus the others around it. Even if it is just the title, that’s still technically “on the cover” so putting a little thought into how those words look on there is a good idea. Are they legible? If a title is jumbled or too small it might make someone’s eye pass over it, for example.

And I know for a fact that some covers have turned me off from picking up a book at a store - for example, most Harlequin style covers don’t interest me. If a cover is super busy and gives me a headache to look at it, I’m less likely to turn over to the blurb as well.

As a photographer, I’m surprised that you don’t immediately see how our eye can be drawn into a story from a visual. Or how the “just right” visual can convey a story, or enhance the message of one.

The cover should reflect the tone of your work. It helps people quickly identify whether your novel might be within their preferred genre.

And definitely getting people to enjoy your story requires getting them to click on it, and the cover is their first impression that might move their hand.

If covers didn’t matter, even in the “old school” world, then authors and publishers wouldn’t bother putting anything on them.

And on WP you are competing with literally millions of stories.

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Dark Puzzles isn’t my work, it’s public domain. Just a collection of mysteries and stuff :slight_smile:
I’ll follow you on the actual site if you want and then you’ll find me :slight_smile:

Welcome! :tada: Hope you like it here! In my experience, the community is super sweet! Writers are genuinely looking to help each other out and readers are super supportive, caring, and sociable when they enjoy your books!

A perfect cover isn’t necessary and not everyone judges a book by its cover; but a huge amount of readers do. There have actually been a ton of polls and discussions on these forums about how much more likely someone is to even look at your book if it has a nice cover (or choose to not look at it even if the writing is good just because it doesn’t have a high quality cover).

The real world publishing industry also creates fantastic covers to attract readers because statistically better covers do attract more readers. Just because someone clicks on a book because it has a nice cover doesn’t mean they’ll love the blurb and read it, but in a place like Wattpad where there are so many books and such fierce competition between which books readers should spend their time reading a click matters so much. If they never click on the cover to read the blurb, they just won’t click. No one will ever make it to the well-written blurb. The pretty covers exist to try to entice readers just to click in the first place so there is a higher possibility that they might continue further and read the book.

This depends entirely on what kind of a writer you are and what you write for. A number of writers on Wattpad are just like you - they just want to write and don’t necessarily care how many people read it but just that someone reads it and enjoys it. And whether they enjoy the story is much more important to them than a pure number.

Other Wattpad writers starve for reader interaction, comments, votes, and becoming popular (also the more popular you are on Wattpad, the harder it is for Wattpad HQ to ignore you and not label you as a star/start promoting your work/monetizing your books - so for some people who want to make a living writing on Wattpad the numbers are very important). So it really just depends on what your reason is for writing on here!

I hope all this information is helpful, and I’m happy to answer any further questions if you have them! Wishing you luck in your writing on here! :heart:

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Bellkipeg

The Choice

That is very kind of you x

Would you be able to substitute the photo you’ve used with the one attached? I’ll trust your judgement as far as the cropping goes… Are you using the internal software? If so I think I might give it a go… I’m crumbling to peer pressure here :wink:

“… something makes you pick a book off the shelf versus the others around it.” It’s very rarely the cover though - apart from the one book (the aforementioned Shogun -which was very striking, but also tapped into something I was interested in back then).

I read the blurb at the back and the first page… I can’t think of a single occasion (apart from the above) where I’ve been swayed by the cover…

However, I will also add that I tend to follow specific writers… and chains of association. It’s very rare I take a punt on a new book or writer. If I do it will be purely down to content over style.

As a photographer you’re certainly right that I’m aware how important the focal is for a photo… However to my >backward / old fashioned< way of thinking photo’s are no way of showing just what the content is like.

Also, I think it’s important to note that in the ‘old school’ world authors and publishers were two completely different beasties. However, I will concede your point that there are millions of stories on WP and it’s important for me to remember that… I don’t have the benefit of having a team behind me (nor do any of us on WP). Self promotion has always been my downfall… like with my photography, so with my writing… I’ve always been better at ‘doing’ than selling my stuff…

Thanks for the reply though :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the thoughful reply… You’re right that there was an industry in the publishing world for the cover, etc… but that tended to be handled by the marketing department, etc. This, I think, is where I have the most trouble (I’ve mentioned this in a previous reply) as these days one needs to be a self-publicist more than a content provider, if that makes sense.

I’m not meaning to demean anyone here but one only has to look at equivalents in things like Pop Idol (just for want of a comparison) or Britain’s Got Talent where people think that just because they can do something and have got the ego to promote themselves means that they are super talented… the same way that the word celebrity, to me at least, has lost its meaning due to the ‘reality tv stars’ where they are famous because they’re famous NOT because they have honed their talent… I’m sure the same could be said for many authors that have become big because of their following not because of their ability to write. (God, I hope that doesn’t come across as bitchy!!)

The ‘old school label’ was said tongue in cheek… however I do feel I’m probably more attached to what marshall mcluhan would probably call hot media (ie/ print) rather than cool (digital). I think you probably hit the nail on the head though by describing my presence here… As much as I’d love to be published (I mean, who wouldn’t) I’d much prefer to have a ‘cult’ following by people who actually enjoyed my stories and came back for more… a dedicated ‘fan’ base than a casual dip in…

I’m not a whippersnapper - in fact I’m the same age as you (Born June 1977 across the pond from you in NYC)

But marketing is not a new idea by any means - it’s older than both of us :joy:

Of course I follow authors I enjoy, or recommendations from folks, but there’s something so pleasurable about spending a few hours at the library or bookstore discovering something (or many things) new.

And the spines and covers are what face forward. They catch the eye first.

Then I read the blurb. If that suits, then I will read the first page (or sometimes the first chapter).

So of course, it’s not as superficial as just a cover image that gets one to read, but it is part of the process.

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Hi old timer :wink:

I agree with marketing but not sure I’m a marketer… However… I will give it a try lmao!!

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