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Sequence of Steps Leading to a Book Sale

by Ron Kurtus (revised 8 April 2016)

You can learn the important design elements that lead to a book sale by looking at the sequence of steps you go through in deciding to buy a book. The sequence when browsing in a bookstore is somewhat different than for online sales.

Knowing these steps helps you see what parts of your book are important in getting sales.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Bookstore sequence

Although you may go to a bookstore with a specific title in mind, often you simply go to browse and see if there is anything interesting to you.

You usually go to the section in the store with a certain type or genre of books.

Most books are stacked with their spines facing outward. You see the title and author's name on spine of the book. If it looks interesting, you take the book from the shelf to examine it.

You look at the front cover to get a little better idea of what the book is about. The quality of the cover design may give an idea of the quality inside the book.

Then you open the book, look at the Table of Contents and riff through the book. Perhaps you turn to a chapter of interest.

Finally, you may look at the back cover to get a description of the book and to see the price.

This typical sequence can lead you to make a decision on buying the book.

Online sequence

For online purchases, you usually do a search for the subject, author, or title through Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or other online store. Often you are searching as a result of a recommendation or book review.

You get to a page with a listing of books from your search, including a small image of the front cover, title and author, review rankings, and cost for each version (hardcopy or e-book).

Clicking on a cover image, you get a web page with more information on the book. The front cover image is larger and in some occasions, you can also examine the rear cover. There is also an overview or description of the book.

In most cases, you can look inside and read the Table of Contents and sample pages of the book.

You can also examine the customer reviews of the book to see what others thought of it.

These factors will lead to you make a decision on buying the book.

Important items

One thing to realize is that it is difficult for self-publishers to get their books stocked in bookstores. Because of that, and the fact that e-books are increasing in market share, emphasis should be made for online sales.

Certainly, the title of the book—as seen on the spine or especially the front cover—should attract attention to people looking for your topic. The typeface and coloring of the title should stand out, so that it can be read online on a thumbnail image, as well as on the bookshelf.

The subtitle of the book can add to getting interest.

The graphical design of the cover should look professional and of high quality. However, the cover design should not be too busy as to detract from your title text.

Your table of contents should give a good outline of subject matters in the book. Some authors like to have funny chapter and section titles. However, they can detract from the book, because they give little indication of what is in the chapter.

A well-organized book—fiction or nonfiction—is a good selling point.

Finally, getting positive reviews for your book are very important in helping people decide whether to buy it. This falls within your marketing strategy.


There are important design elements that lead to a bookstore sale, as well as an online sale of your book.

By looking at the sequence of steps you go through in deciding to buy a book. The sequence when browsing in a bookstore is somewhat different than for online sales.

Knowing these steps helps you see what parts of your book are important in getting sales.

You often judge a book by its cover

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Publishing Resources


Top-rated books on Self-Publishing

Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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Self-Publishing topics

Sequence Leading to a Book Sale

Self-Publishing topics

Initial considerations

Start publishing business


Structure of book

Design book

Design cover

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Convert format

Check Copy in eReader

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