3 Signs Your Book Cover Design Misses The Mark

3 Signs Your Book Cover Design Misses The Mark

You slave way, agonizing over every detail.

Are his eyes green or blue? Definately green. No wait! He has blue eyes! Blue eyes!

You’re finally ready to share your masterpiece with the entire world.

Except the old saying is true: You only have one chance at a first impression.

And sometimes, you won’t even get that because they don’t even see your cover. They just skim past it like it was invisible.

Your ebook cover is your first chance to grab your reader’s attention. If they become rabid fans, they won’t care what your covers look like. Your fans will just care that you wrote it. Your loyal tribe are the ones that pre-order and tell their friends about the book that kept them up all night until the very satisfying end.

But you’ll never win fans over if you can’t get them to read your stuff in the first place. That’s why it’s essential that your ebook’s cover design makes them stop in their tracks, read your description and then hit the BUY NOW button.

Don’t spend countless hours on an amazing book only to package it in a cover that no one notices.

1. It’s exactly like the rest

Scroll through Amazon’s Romance section and you’ll see a pattern.

Hot guy without a shirt on, hot guy with killer abs and hot guy with a stethoscope.

Nothing against hot guys as I’m a red-blooded gal like all the rest. Except the odds that I’d buy your book with a hot guy on the cover is exponentially lower because your book looks exactly the same as 75 percent of all the books in that section. Although they may be great books, none of them look particularly original. There’s nothing that makes me stop and say: “Wow, the hot guy on this cover is so much better than the rest. I should buy this one because his abs speak to me.”

I don’t mean pick on romance novels. Every genre has something stereotypical that makes it seem generic. Take a look at the fitness and diet genres (they also love hot guys as their cover models!). To stand out in an extremely competitive field, you must be unique and using the same stereotypical images will never help you make a good impression.

Don’t become “just another book” that looks like every other cover in it’s category. You never want your cover to feel cliched or like a stock picture. Don’t be afraid to be different.

book cover design 2. The template screams self-published

There’s a common eBook cover formula that screams “I made this!”

It’s the block, picture, block combination of a ton of eBook templates. Yet, head over to Amazon and tell me know how many of these formula covers you can find in five minutes. 50? 100?

The top block generally has the title. The second block has a picture, and we top it off with the author’s name in the bottom block. Of course, you can mix it up and put your name at the top. This is not an improvement and it’s still a boring template cover.

Whether you hire a graphic artist or do it yourself, stay away from the most basic templates. Don’t create a formula cover. Again, your goal is to be unique and catch someone’s eye. And it’s very hard when there are thousands of similar covers out there.

Don’t be afraid to be bold or try something different. Look closely to what already exists in your genre and make the choice to look different even if it’s slightly uncomfortable and a bit nerve wracking to be the odd duck in your category.

3. You try to say too much

I’m old enough that I remember making my first business brochure. Remember those? Back in the day, many businesses created these trifold masterpieces that no one ever read.

However, that did not keep me from diligently choosing the right wording, colors and pictures. But no one ever read them…

The main point in any advertising is to get the consumer to pick up the phone and call you. And make no mistake, your eBook cover is marketing. Like these mostly extinct brochures, the only thing that matters is they see a business’s phone number.

Brené Brown’s Rising Strong cover has a ton going on. She has her name, book title, degree titles, her best-selling status, and a subtitle. It works for her because she is a best selling writer and people will read everything on the cover. Her fans would pick it up simply because it has her name on it.

Unless you’re actually Brené Brown, your mantra should be to keep it simple.

Take a look on Amazon and see how much tiny cover script you can actually read while scrolling through genres. Think simplicity and you’ll find the perfect balance.

Don’t be scared to make an impression

Let’s say you’re a cozy mystery writer. Your new book is called The Lost Flower. You have a female lead character and your obvious ebook cover design would include flowers. Or maybe some baked goods and a loveable pet.

But this is such an obvious choice! Take a look in Amazon’s Cozy Mystery genre and it’s filled with flowers, cupcakes and cat covers. You wouldn’t be making an impression. Instead you’d be proclaiming your work as just another cozy mystery.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re book really is just another cozy mystery! It’s your hard work and you want readers to see it because if they like cozy mysteries they will love your book.

One of the best parts about self-publishing is that you can always change the cover if it’s not selling. So take a chance and do something risky. Make sure your incredible writing isn’t invisible.

Be bold, creative and be seen.

What’s the best ebook cover you’ve seen this year? What makes it special or unique? What are you going to do differently on your next cover?


  • Taren Randal says:

    You should get a proof reader first.

  • Calinda Wright says:

    Hello my name calinda looking for a literacy agent for my but my book is done I’m finished it 2 days ago

  • I don’t like to brag, but my children’s picture book, “A Birthday Story” has a great cover. The cover has an illustration of Grover the muppet who disappears into flowers. Grover is colored blue. The illustrator of the cover was Joel Ray Pellerin.

  • Trinity says:

    This is some seriously bad advice. It’s actually a mistake to make your cover way different than the genre to which is belongs. DO be afraid to be different. There’s a reason why certain types of covers look a certain way. It’s because it makes the books sell. Readers expect covers to look a certain way. Deviate from that expectation at your own peril.

  • Taren Randal says:

    Thank you I’m nearing the end of my rough draft and I’m starting to brainstorm ideas for my cover. I’ll keep this in mind. How many fantasy books have a dragon on the cover?

  • Colin says:

    It’s reassuring to read that women readers aren’t necessarily attracted by hunks on the front cover. It does depend on the genre ! Whatever way you look at it the cover invariably opens the door, metaphorically speaking to further read interest. I’m in the midst of preparing a sequel to a first novel. Stories set in an historical era like the eighteenth century, for example, can benefit from showing a scene typifying the era. As an author it’s good to have a say over cover illustration. There can be a tendency for sameness in modern book covers, with the author left out of the process by commercial demand for publishers to copy rather than be innovative. The cover is an important part of the process. Illustration doesn’t necessarily make a novel appealing. Genre appropriateness is very important when your e-book image shines out from the screen.

  • Vivienne says:

    Good advice here on how to make your book stand out.
    Having said that, I also read somewhere that you must make your cover state what genre you are writing, and to look at covers in your genre to see what types of cover say historical, or fantasy, or romance etc.
    I must say, though, that I’m a tad fed up with every cover in every genre having to have a picture of someone. The cover of my historical novel doesn’t have a person on it.

  • I’ve started a list of covers I like and which might capture the feel of my own story–just in case I’m ever published and someone asks me!
    For example, I.Myers’ Last Song Before Night.
    But I guess I never actually thought to browse what’s “normal” for my genre.
    Good advice to keep it simple.

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