business / publishing

Will You Buy a Book With a S**** Cover? Probably Not

Today, I have a guest post from a gentleman who designs book covers. Anyone who’s dabbled in self-publishing knows how important that piece of the literary puzzle is and how difficult it is to get right. I think you’ll enjoy Adrijus’ thoughts:

How Book Covers Help Self-Published Writers

Book covers. It is said they are the thing that can make or break the book sale. Is it true? Or is it simply something book designers selling their services say? Many designers claim on their web sites, “While it is said that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, people do it and that’s why you need a designer!” I admit, we designers are biased on this one, but I do believe it to be truth, and here are five reasons why a professional book cover design matters:

  1. In a world where everything is happening fast, instant gratification is often expected and people don’t take time to look at details. When I stand in the bookshop looking at shelves, I scan books fast—seeing each one in mere seconds! There are so many good books and I would buy half of them if I could, but most of the time I’m in a hurry, so I’m just seeing if there is something good I can quickly grab. The same is even more true on listings where the book cover is so small you can barely see it. For these listings, an easily readable title and subtitle is an absolute must. If I am not intrigued by title and/or book cover’s design elements, it’s not likely I will click on the book to go and read the description, much less buy it. Good looking covers will stand out and scream, “Look at me, stop here for a second!”
  2. Let’s say a cover has a picture and simple text on it—it is readable, but doesn’t look professional (ie: well chosen font, good balance/placement and matching colors). What does this communicate about the book you worked so hard to write? To many potential readers, it appears that you didn’t take the time necessary for the details and it was done in a hurry. A potential buyer may think the content of the book is created the same way—in a rush. This is not always a fair judgement, but again it comes down to instant judgement. Here is Dan Poynter’s excellent article about people judging books by their covers:
  1. Similar to number 2 above, book agents, publishers and reviewers also care about the cover design. They know how important a good cover is to stand out on the bookshelf. If you independently published your book and are shopping it to a publisher, a professional cover lets them know that you are a serious writer and know your message, know what you want to communicate and how, and understand your target audience. A great book cover can also be the difference between standing out in the pile of books gatekeepers receive for reviews and being thrown into the slush pile.
  1. A professional book cover can help your productivity. Some people have told me that once their cover was done and they loved it, they hung it over their desks or put it on their computer as wallpaper and it motivated them to finish their books. You are already seeing a major part of your baby, and you can visualize your book better. It’s a glimpse at a dream coming true!
  1. If you are writing a series of books and developing a brand and platform to showcase them, having recognizable and attractive book covers will let your readers know at first glance it’s your book. You can match it to your website, Facebook Fanpage, etc., creating an awesome looking identity for yourself.

Some of these reasons aren’t cool, but that’s how it is. This does not mean that writers should break the bank on a book cover and pay $2,000[KE1]  for it. Nope. But just like a good editor, a professional book cover will contribute to your masterpiece. It will make for a complete package matching the quality of your wordsmith talents and help spread your message to the people who need it.

Here’s a Before-and-after example of book covers. What do you think:

 [KE1]Average in the traditional industry is $750-2,000. $1,000 can be reasonable, if custom art is being created (no stock photos). $2,000 is high.

–Adrijus Guscia is a Book Cover Designer, working with writers to create book covers that are attractive to readers eye, convey author’s message and improve sales. He’s been designing for 3 years and chose this profession because he loves books (they taught him a lot) and graphic design. Working with creative people is an added bonus too. See his work at and get a Book Cover you will love.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a K-6 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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8 thoughts on “Will You Buy a Book With a S**** Cover? Probably Not

  1. Pingback: MAKE YOUR OWN FREE KINDLE BOOK COVERS | Online Book Assembler

  2. Dianne, my pleasure. 😉

    Those sites may have been breaking the law too (I have done it too in the past 😛 but these days Creative Commons really changed that and you pretty much always can find what you need there). And I don’t think that painting is on public domain or CC. Can’t be used for commercial stuff. It is a beautiful painting tho!


  3. I always have nightmares over my covers and I must admit they’re not the greatest covers I’ve ever seen. But I’m really happy with my latest cover (having said that – its a painting from last century and I’m now hoping I’m not breaking copyright laws) 😦


    • Hey Dianne,

      well, I’ve seen worse covers than those on your blog’s sidebar 😉 You could maybe find some really cheap book cover artists on let’s say but you will take on the risk of getting what you paid for. Some may produce a good looking cover some may not. It’s an option but I wouldn’t recommend it too much. If you do some digging there you may find something good there.

      About Copyrights, you are probably breaking it, esp. if it’s not a Creative Common or now belongs to Public Domain. If you can find the painter then get ahold of him. If not, or have lots of images that can be used commercially with attribution licence.



      • Thanks for this, Adrijus The artists name is Octavio Ocampo and the picture is Mouth of Flower. I have seen other people use it on their blogs and on many web pages so I thought it was a bit of a free-for-all 😉 Although I’m still unsure. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body so I need to use pictures instead of ‘designing’ something.

        I’ll try and – it’s great to have someone like you around to offer advice. Thanks so much 😀


  4. Hey Tahlia,

    thank you for your comment.

    The reviewer in the case you mentioned may or may not have had good eye for design and/or technical knowledge. Plus if he had prejudice this was not about cover design completely, he was just making up stuff to dismiss the book. Some people dislike Will Smith for some reason or don’t see why movie like Fight Club is a masterpiece. I’d say as.sholes like that are exception.. I could not understand why that happens. I also haven’t posted a really unprofessional cover here, there are ones that are way worse.

    As far as these examples go, the unusual drawn fish and bubbles stand out well enough in the Amazon listing from other books with pictures and solid colors. I did this concept exactly for that reason, all books had picture or pictures related to the niche and this was a completely different style. There is plenty of books with white background and some of them on my Amazon Wishlist so I can’t say that it doesn’t attract attention if needed. A lot depends on how other covers are made and what colors they use. 🙂



  5. I think we have to realise that as with any form of art, personal preference comes into it in a big way. Something that one person thinks looks ‘unprofessional’ can look fully professional to someone else. I think we get what we like mixed up with what is professional. I saw a reviewer accuse an author of having an ‘unprofessional’ cover when they had actually paid a ‘professional’ artist to create it for them. In actual fact the cover wasn’t unprofessional, the accuser just didn’t like it. If it was a traditionally published book, they would never think to use that term because they would assume that a professional had done it.

    There’s nothing wrong with simple, so long as it’s technically proficient. Personally, I feel that, although the font & placement is better in the after images,,the before image above is better than the other 2 in one major way – the white disappears into the background on the other 2. There is no edge definition which is not good on the web. The design is great on the winner, but it should be white on blue, not the other way around. But that is just my opinion.


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