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Say you’re a writer of religious self-help books, but you want your book to appeal to everyone. Do you design your title and cover with religion in mind or the general audience who’ll be reading it (hopefully)?

Author Michael Peters created a PickFu poll to answer that question for his own religious self-help book.

Option A’s title is a bit of a mouthful: Lost in Detroit: Bent Nails, Alien Life, and Jesus of Nazareth: The Journey to the Non-Religious Jesus. The cover features a clean black, white, and turquoise color scheme with the Detroit skyline below the title.

Option B’s title is much shorter: Tired of Religion? Come & See Jesus of Nazareth. The cover art is a blurred painting of Jesus.

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…Option A! With a score of 82 to Option B’s 18, it’s clear the general audience greatly preferred Option A’s title and cover.

Let’s find out why.

One option looks too much like a religious tract

Have you ever had a religious tract waved in your face while walking down the street? Did you take the pamphlet, or ignore it? While some people may enjoy getting proselytized to, most people probably toss the pamphlets in the recycling bin, even if they’re already religious themselves.

There’s something pushy about tracts that people just don’t like. And Option B’s title and cover art looked, to some respondents, like a religious tract.

Said one female respondent, “Choice B just seemed like a pamphlet someone would be handing out on the street.”

If you want to truly entice non-religious people to read a religious book, don’t make it look like a religious tract. Several people thought Option B looked “preachy,” and like “a boilerplate book promoting religion,” and “standard religious propaganda that I wouldn’t even consider picking up.”

That is not what the author is going for!

Modern design is crucial

Respondents loved Option A’s turquoise pop and white cityscape sketch against a black background. The bent nail in the word ‘Detroit’ also caught peoples’ attention, as did the alien spaceship.

It’s clear the author put thought into tying the title and the cover together in Option A, and that’s the cover that would attract the most potential readers.

The much less modern design on Option B barely caught anyone’s attention.

Aliens will convince just about anyone to grab the book

Let’s let the respondents speak for themselves on this one:

  • A female: “[Option A] sounds super cool. Aliens? Non-religious Jesus? Bent nails?”
  • Another female: “What could all those things have to do with each other?” 
  • A male: “Alien life is pretty thought provoking, lol.”
  • Another male: “It includes aliens. That is better than just something about religion.”
  • A female: “The title sounds more interesting and mentions Alien life.”

Need I say more? Mix space aliens and religion and you’re sure to gain lots of readers!

Key takeaways

In a religious self-help book, make your cover and title as modern, interesting, and non-preachy as possible. Let the readers come to you because they’re so into your unique book cover.

If you have a couple of religious self-help book covers you want to test to a general audience, create a PickFu poll to find out which one appeals the most to your future readers!

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Laura Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents.com, Mom.com, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle grade novel, Missing Okalee, comes out from Shadow Mountain Publishing in the fall of 2021. Find her online at lauraojedamelchor.com.

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