The importance of a good book cover design

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” it is a popular idiom, but in reality most readers do use a cover as a deciding factor whether they should buy a book or not.

Smashwords founder Mark Coker says: “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something.” A great cover, he says, can “help the reader instantly recognize that this book is for them.”   They see your cover before they read your book. So, the first impression is everything.

“Bookshops display books with their covers facing the reader,” writes JD Smith in Writers & Artist. “It’s the first thing a reader sees. It is the reason a customer picks up the book, particularly in a supermarket setting where every book is front facing. Only when a reader has picked up the book do they actually read anything…”

With hundreds, if not thousands of books in a store for readers to choose from, your book cover is the first sales talk you make. People expect a cover to tell them what to expect. It presents the atmosphere of the book. It can give your readers a glimpse of the characters or a location where some action took place.

A well-designed cover is the first assurance the reader has that the book is of a high quality. Some book reviewers even don’t want to read a book when the cover is not appealing. They wonder if other areas in the book would lack quality and refinement too.

Naomi Blackburn, one of the world’s top Goodreads reviewers: “If the cover seems to be nothing more than a catalog photograph with block lettering, I bypass it,” she says. “If the author didn’t care enough to dedicate time/effort to their cover, I wonder how much time they put into the book itself.”

So books are judged for their covers and not only by reviewers, also the public. The Cover Matters Survey Results came up with some interesting statistics.

From 616 people who took the survey 79% answered that covers matter; 40% responded not to buy a book if the cover was terrible; and 62% says that covers are the artistic representation of the book (they should be accurately representative of a book’s genre, tone, and/or characters).

A professional book cover can boost your sales significantly, but interesting to know is that even makeovers can double your sale. Suppose your book has a poor book cover, big publishers try to prevent this but even they often change covers of books already published and if your book is published with “printing on demand”, you can do this easily too.

Your story is important, but your cover is equally important. You spent a lot of time writing your book and you want to tell your story to as many people as possible, then why not spent some more time and money for a really good book cover. Hire a professional book cover designer, but how do you recognize one?

How do you recognize a good book cover designer?

There are many sites that offer you book cover designs or where you can hire a freelance designer. In fact there are millions of graphic designers you can connect to over the internet but most of them are would be artists.  Forget book cover designs for 5$. Some say that a professional book cover design will cost you over 500$ but there is a lot of talented cover designers that only charge you half of it. So what do you need to do:

Surf the internet for graphic designers. If you find one:

Check his or her portfolio for:

  • Style: Every designer has his own style. Is this style in line with what you expect from your cover?
  • Use of clipart: There is nothing wrong with the use of clipart as long as it is not only a clipart with a title. Professional designers will use more than one clipart and blend them seamlessly together to create a unique new image. If a cover looks too much as often used clipart, search for another designer.
  • Cliches: If your designer uses to often used cliches he probably lacks creativity. Many would be designers are real copycats and steal ideas from other designers or simply use often used images just to play safe.
  • Anomalies: Often common mistakes are: shade in the wrong place opposite the sun, things that cannot occur in reality. A lake house at the border of a violent see. Even if the designer is talented, your audience will notice.
  • Details: Enlarge a portfolio design and check for lighting details, retouching, blending, contrast and more. The better done the better your designer.
  • Font: Does your designer uses readable fonts which are also readable when the design is a thumbnail.

Check for references:  Although it is very difficult to check these, it might give you some clues.

Communicate: Communicating with your designer is as important than his ability to create professional designs. If he does not fully understand what you want, you might be surprised what he delivers. Always ask for a midterm situation. So you can follow up his progress and adjust if necessary.


Here you will find some more information on the subject:

Why book covers are so important:

The Importance of Cover Design:

Yes, We Really Do Judge Books by Their Covers:

Cover matters:


And of course, we can help you too with professional book covers. Take advantage of our temporary offer or goto our website at MaryDes.