Imagine learning about books without first seeing them… Intrigued?

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock


It’s nearly impossible to discover a new book and learn about it without first seeing the cover.

  • In the bookstore, this was a necessity. (Unless you put on a blindfold, opened the book, and then removed the blindfold.)
  • In principle, online bookstores don’t need to show you the cover first. But they do anyway. It’s a marketing strategy. That visual appeal generates interest, helps generate spontaneous purchases, and cover design tricks can even send subconscious messages.

And thus, we see books and judge them before we know anything else about them.

But they do serve a valuable purpose.

  • A good cover is the author’s way of showing, at a glance, that the author cares enough about the book to invest in it, and that the author has put forth some effort at least in the cover design.
  • If the cover reflects a lack of effort and research, why should the reader expect more effort to have been put into the writing?
  • Covers also visually signify the genre and content, helping customers quickly filter search results.

On the other hand, I’d rather read a book with a lousy cover and a great story than read a book with a great cover and a lousy story. (But with millions of books to choose from, there are plenty of books with great covers and great stories, so why settle for less?)

What if you could learn about books without first seeing their covers?

  • I’m not saying that the cover doesn’t matter in this case. Eventually, the shopper will see the cover, and then it will very much matter.
  • I’m saying, let’s change the order of business. Let’s give the book a chance to intrigue readers in another way, and then show them what the cover looks like.
  • This is not a plan for books with lousy covers to sell more. If the customer is really excited about a book, and then thinks, “Ah, yuck!” upon seeing the cover, said lousy cover will still be a sales deterrent.

Here is how we usually shop for books:

  1. See a palette of book covers.
  2. Find covers of interest and check out the price.
  3. Click on an interesting cover and read the description.
  4. If the description is interesting, check out the sample.

Imagine transforming the book buying experience:

  1. Choose a topic of interest.
  2. Read a short description designed to generate interest.
  3. If interested, visit the book’s product page.
  4. Now see the cover and find pricing info.
  5. Read the description and view the sample.

Let me go a step further:

  • We won’t browse through typical blurbs.
  • We’ll create a new buying experience.
  • We’ll browse through short creative pieces where you can meet the characters themselves.


Here is my proposal:

  • Authors will write short creative pieces where the characters introduce the book to the reader.
  • Said creativity may help to generate interest.
  • The buyer’s first impression of the book comes directly from (A) a character in the book and (B) a brief writing sample.
  • We’ll post the character introductions on a page on the Read Tuesday website, organized by genre or content.
  • Submissions are free. Submissions are also easy: Just use the Contact Us form (find one form further this article, or visit the Read Tuesday website).
  • The creative piece will conclude with availability info (ASIN, ISBN, where sold).
  • No images and no prices will be displayed on the Read Tuesday website. The idea is to generate interest first, then check out the product page at Amazon, B&N, or wherever else the book is sold to learn more.
  • (This has nothing to do with promotional book prices. This is about helping readers find books that they may enjoy.)


Complete this form to submit your book for Read Tuesday.

STEP 1: Begin with the title and author name(s).

STEP 2: Next, indicate the category, e.g. Romance > Paranormal.

STEP 3: Include a short creative piece, where one or more of your characters speaks to prospective readers, introducing your book.

Don’t spoil the story. Strive to create interest in your characters and story, without giving too much away.

The introduction must come from the point of view of one or more characters discussing your book.

Don’t include url’s or pricing information.

STEP 4: Do include ASIN and/or ISBN along with at least one major retailer where your book is available (e.g. Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Apple). You can say, “Amazon and other major retailers,” for example, if you wish to condense your list. This list should appear at the end of your creative piece.

Creatives that don’t follow directions are subject not to appear on the Read Tuesday website. Please review the directions above first. Follow all 4 steps.

Place all 4 steps in the Comments field.

Read Tuesday makes no guarantees regarding exposure or impact on sales or reviews. Submission is free and open to all authors who have a book available with a major online retailer.

Look for other possible opportunities for readers and authors in the future.


Read Tuesday began as an annual promotional event like Black Friday, but for book lovers.

But there are now very many book promotion websites.

The spirit of Read Tuesday is to promote reading and to help match readers with good books, with free promotion for authors.

So Read Tuesday is evolving, looking for more opportunities like Meet the Characters, designed to help readers find books that they may like and to help authors get discovered by readers.

Instead of promotional prices, we’re looking for other ways to match readers with books.

Give the gift of reading.


Follow Read Tuesday so you don’t miss out on future opportunities.

Chris McMullen, founder of Read Tuesday

Follow the Read Tuesday blog (see the option on our homepage)

or Follow Read Tuesday (@ReadTuesday) on Twitter

Like the Read Tuesday page at Facebook

36 responses to “Imagine learning about books without first seeing them… Intrigued?

  1. Hello CHRIS McMULLEN . . . I jumped right in . . . hope I meet your standards. You do have a great idea! Thanks Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape for sharing!

  2. Reblogged this on Insomnia, Nightmares and General Madness and commented:
    This sounds like an intriguing idea; not necessarily one my books/characters are right for (somehow, Andrew discussing just what he and his razor are going to do to you if you don’t read his book doesn’t seem like a selling point), but something folks should consider, nonetheless.

  3. It is extremely rare that a book would come into my collections based on its cover. “Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest was of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless.”
    – Sinclair Lewis

  4. An interesting and generous offer. Thanks for giving us authors the opportunity to take part. I submitted a message, and wish I had chosen a more generous and sensible character, but it’s too late now!

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