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Construction: Guide to Health and Wellbeing

The author says:

This is a text/reference book and is the 5th book in the series on health and safety – this time focussing on the construction industry in the UK. I have recently had this template made which I will use for rebranding the other 4 books that have gone before – and selling them as a boxed set – so the design is for each book. The book includes law references, case studies, best practice and my experiences of advising the construction industry at a senior strategic level. My other books haven’t sold very well so wonder if I can make the book series more appealing. Do you think I should add an image of a crane or digger in silhouette somewhere on the page? Any comments gratefully received.

Nathan says:

This subject matter isn’t really one that depends on “curb appeal” for book sales (it’s definitely not recreational reading, nor is the field as super-saturated as, say, paranormal shifter romances); the only thing that the cover needs to convey is professionalism, which I think is covered well.

That said, couldn’t the template designer have included something that connoted construction?  A blueprint or schematic, a photograph of heavy equipment or workers in hardhats… It just seems to me that the template was constructed with the conscious intent of avoiding any portrayal of the subject matter.

But still.  A professional reference manual is not one which depends on cover design to attract potential buyers, so you’ll get a lot less mileage out of cover redesign.  If covers have been slow, you might do well to concentrate on other marketing efforts: direct mail to contractors, industry association endorsements, etc.  Best of luck.

Other comments?

Comments

  1. It’s an attractive enough cover. The two lines of text in the tagline need to be centered with each other. And now that I look at it again, the three lines of the title seem off center visually. Could be the “GUIDE TO” and the little bar that are causing the problem.

  2. It looks clean and professional, which is everything for this kind of book. That said, a health and safety book for construction is exactly the kind of reference book you actually can add a human touch too, if you want. Try experimenting with a boxed photo of some smiling construction workers in the center of the cover, for instance.

  3. This cover seems adequate given the subject matter. It exudes professionalism. I disagree with Nathan regarding the cover requiring some construction imagery since “construction” is somewhat metaphorical in this case, so it’s not important to add imagery to support the notion.

    In short, I think this is a good cover for your book. Nice job and best of luck!

  4. On the one hand, writing instructive manuals like this has the advantage of not requiring any self-promotion of the kind the various genres of fiction do; there’s no such thing as celebrity in technical writing. On the other hand, as our host has already mentioned, writers of these nonfiction works are at a disadvantage in that the target audience and therefore market for them is very limited. In practice, this means covers for these technical manuals don’t have to be very imaginative, but also that the number of copies you can sell always has some upper limit that no cover (however brilliantly designed) can ever allow you to breach; it’s therefore in your best interest to come to terms with these limitations from the start.

    While books on construction industry management do indeed tend to have pictures of buildings being constructed (or when they’re complete) or of construction equipment (such as cranes or backhoes or the like) in them, the main objective with your cover is to have something familiar on it that will immediately clue your target audience to the book’s being targeted at them. As such, while such concrete images of construction crews or equipment or the things they construct may help, you need not necessarily include them to make it work. A simple abstract pattern coupled with the right color scheme might suffice.

    The main problem I see with this cover is that while it does suggest an instructive manual for someone in management, my first impression of the abstract swirly lines with the light-blue-and-white color scheme before reading any of the text was that this manual was intended for a paper-pushing government bureaucracy or some generic consulting firm for corporate desk jockeys, not something as specific and concrete and quantifiable as the construction industry. While I’m not certain whether the U.K. uses all the same symbols on its signs, one way I would design this cover differently if I were writing a book such as this for construction companies here in the U.S.A. would be to use a border pattern of alternating diagonal stripes with a black-and-yellow color scheme (for architectural construction) or white-and-orange (for road and street construction) or black-and-orange (for either/both). Since these stripes and color schemes are almost universally recognized in the U.S.A. as symbols one sees on street signs and barricades around construction zones, the target audience would realize even before it read the title that the book was specifically about construction.

    Once you have that kind of recognition from your audience, anything else is icing on the cake. Of course, you might just want to put the title and byline in whatever font those street signs use in keeping with the rest of the cover’s motif, but you need not be too precise about this detail. You also can–optionally–overlay this abstract pattern with some of the aforementioned concrete images of construction to drive your point home, so long as you can place them in some manner that keeps the title and byline legible.

    1. yes, I’m going to second this idea. I spent 3 decades in RE Development and Construction, and my immediate reaction to this was that it didn’t say “construction” or development or anything along those lines to me, so RK’s post makes good sense to me. I believe that I recall seeing similar color schemes/signs in the UK, so you should be able to adapt those suggestions for this book’s cover, I would think.

      Other than that, as others have said, it’s a nice, commercial-appearing cover. I think the idea of branding your series was smart–are you making all the other covers the same as this? Will they have alternating colors, or…?

  5. Hi everyone. Thanks for all your comments. Certainly have lots to think about. And yes, the design will be the same for each book so think I will differentiate with maybe hazard tape or a discrete picture.

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