Authors improve their book marketing efforts by using PickFu to test book titles and covers with potential readers targeted by literary preferencenumber of books read per month, and more.

Which One Won? Does Sex Sell on Thriller Covers?

We hear the phrase “sex sells” tossed around quite often in advertising. But does this apply to selling thriller books as well?

A recent PickFu poll helped give us greater insight into how much sexuality to include on the cover of a thriller.

The author asked the test panel which cover for a thriller novel they liked best.

Option A shows a page with different images separated by paper rips. The most eye-catching image is one of a woman lying on a bed, looking at the camera.

Which One Won? Does Sex Sell on Thriller Covers?

Option B shows a semi-transparent silhouette of a woman, whose back is to the camera as she looks out at a beach.

Which One Won? Does Sex Sell on Thriller Covers?

Can you guess which one won?

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Which One Won? One Book Cover for Two Genres

Readers tend to have certain expectations of what a book cover should look like for a particular genre, whether it be a couple on a romance novel, blood on a murder mystery book, dragons on fantasy fiction, etc. People look for elemental clues on the cover to determine which type of book it is and whether they want to read it.

But what if a novel spans multiple genres? How can the cover capture the interest of readers of each genre?

One author created a PickFu poll to see how a target audience would react to two different covers for a fantasy fiction novel about time travel that also includes an element of romance.

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Which One Won? Book Covers with Mixed Messages

One small decision you make on your book cover can send a different message to your intended audience. One PickFu pollster was surprised when testing two different book covers.

He tested two covers for the book The Last Lessons of Christ.

Option A featured a dark red image of the back of Christ against a white and grey-toned background.

Which One Won? Book Covers with Mixed Messages

Option B showed Christ in a yellow-ombre color against a similar but brighter white and grey background.

Which One Won? Book Covers with Mixed Messages

Can you guess which one won?

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Which One Won? The Right Level of Mystery for a Book Cover

Designing a mystery cover can be tricky. You want to capture the mystery of your book without giving the reader too much information.

In other words, you want a mystery book to appear… mysterious.

The problem is, if you make a cover too mysterious, you can stump readers. With few clues on what a book is about, an individual can have little enthusiasm to buy the book.

We observed this phenomenon in a recent PickFu poll. A novelist asked the panel which book cover they preferred and provided two different options.

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How a Guide for Short Guys Grew in Sales

“You don’t seem that short,” people often tell author Seth Ulinski.

At 5’7″, Seth is three inches below average height. In the introduction to his book Amazing Heights: How Short Guys Stand Tall, he jokes that perhaps he could chalk it up to “really” being 5’7″ and a half. But it’s more than that: an attitude. A posture. A frame of mind. And his book serves as a guide for the estimated 60 million other men in the “short guy fraternity” to gain the same confidence.

“I decided to write the book after I noted that there were limited resources addressing the unique challenges of the not-so-tall,” Seth said. The book “examines society’s height bias and provides ways for readers to build their presence,” including how to shop for height-maximizing clothes, career tips, and advice on dating.

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Which One Won? Connecting Your Book Cover With Emotions

When designing a book cover, it’s important to consider the emotions that you want your audience to feel. This often determines whether the person buys the book.

In other words, people buy with their emotions.

We saw this connection between emotion and book design in a recent PickFu poll.

Two authors recently tested two different covers for a book targeted at cancer patients. The authors targeted a female audience and asked which cover they preferred. … Continue reading

Which One Won? Photo Editing and Book Covers

Even the smallest tweaks on the design of a book cover can have a positive impact on book sales. One recent PickFu poll demonstrates how photo editing and object placement can significantly alter the reactions of readers.

Author Amber Zygutis asked the test panel participants which cover they preferred for her novel The Siren’s Violin. Option A presents a dark red-haired woman staring at readers with alarming, orange-colored eyes. Option B features an underwater shot of a red-haired woman with eyes closed and her head turned to the side. Can you guess which one won?

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3 Data Insights for Authors

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Caleb Kaiser at for contributing the following guest post.

The publishing world earned its reputation for being opaque. If you want even basic data points, like book sales for a given title, you’re forced to cobble together numbers from a variety of sources — Nielsen BookScan, Amazon rankings, etc — just to get a vague estimate.

This dearth of data is part of what makes PickFu valuable to authors. PickFu gives you a quantifiable way to approach decisions like picking a cover image, writing a book description, or settling on a title based on data.

If you’re an author interested in taking a more analytical approach to your writing and/or publishing, you should know a handful of insights. We’ve listed our top three below, starting with… … Continue reading

Which One Won? Guns and Double-Barreled Questions

A crime novelist used PickFu to test two cover designs for his book Whiskey Devils. The respondent pool consisted of 50 people drawn from the general population. Option A featured an orange backdrop with bullet holes and gunsmoke and an evocative illustration of a hand transforming into a gun. Option B featured a subdued and elegant photograph of two shot glasses filled with whiskey on a dimly lit bar top. The publisher asked two questions of respondents: “Which cover is more enticing and eye-catching for a crime novel? Which makes you want to read further?”

Which book cover do you think our general population audience selected? Give it your best guess, then read the poll results here.

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Which One Won? What Book Covers Communicate to Readers

The design of a book cover has a huge influence on whether a reader chooses to purchase that book. Therefore, it’s important for authors and publishers to be conscious of a reader’s perception of your cover design.

Take, for example, this PickFu poll of two different book cover designs.

Option A features one person dragging a body through a grove of palm trees, silhouetted against a blue, twilight sky. Option B features a simple silhouette of a cat against a red background. Can you guess which one won?

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