📘 How the right book cover can make or break a sale

Written by: Suha

You take a deep breath and walk into the store. It’s as if you’ve stepped onto another planet – rows upon rows of books call out to you, their covers glistening like jewels on the shelves. The aroma of crisp pages addles your brain as you stand rooted to the spot, unable to choose. What do you do?

Simple. You pick the book that has the most attractive cover (and blurb, of course). We all know better than to judge people by their appearances – but when purchasing a book, how many of us can honestly resist the allure of a pretty cover? There is no doubt that the right book cover can make or break a sale. In this article, we’ve put together the many reasons why.

Your book cover is the first page of your book.

Every single detail on a book’s cover tells the reader what kind of content they will find inside. For example, you wouldn’t want to use a neon pink Barbie font for a chemistry book, would you? I thought not. The cover needs to appeal to a certain type of reader, including the age group that the author is aiming for. If those people don’t like what they see, chances are good that the book will remain on its shelf for the rest of its long, readerless life. This brings us to our next big reason…

The wrong cover will attract the wrong type of audience.

You know you’re in deep trouble when the wrong people pick up your book. By wrong, I mean the untargeted audience, readers in the wrong age group or genre. There is no point in writing a hot teen romance if the cover doesn’t show the reader what they can expect to find inside. Unless it’s a best-seller, readers won’t know it’s a teen romance, and the book will not sell up to its potential. Before making a cover, be sure to thoroughly research the right sort of visuals for your target audience.

Your cover makes your book stand out… or not.

Quick flashback to the first example, where you enter a bookstore full of ripe, irresistible novels. Trust me when I say that among them, at least 50% will feature amazing, state-of-the-art covers and the rest will have inferior covers.

The reader will choose from the more attractive options and look at the synopsis, the first few lines on the first page. But in the beginning, the cover is what makes all the difference. No one will even notice your book if it looks bland and unappealing. By this, I don’t mean that you must use a bright orange background with a purple cursive title and stars and hearts and… you get the point. Just get in touch with a good designer and make your book look good. You’re then halfway to the best-seller list.

These three reasons should be more than enough to help you understand why the right book cover will either make or break your sale. Choose wisely – you only get one chance to make that vital first impression.

I work with a new publishing company, which helps students from the Ivy League universities to get their books published. They have a unique work-flow system, from which I had the opportunity to learn a lot of “gold nuggets” when it comes to this business.

Definitely, this article is an interesting read, but I find that there is a lack in research - clearly, the author wrote everything that came to her mind without checking some of the facts. It’s an article that just points out that there is a problem that most authors already know of - without revealing any tips on how to solve it.

It’s a true fact that all of us purchase the book that has the shiniest front cover. By shiniest I mean an eye-catch cover. Personally, I find that the abstract or illustrated covers (as most of the time I work on non-fiction books) have a higher conversion. While for the fiction books photo-based front covers have a better conversion rate. Although that’s not always the case, exceptions happen anytime and everywhere.

In my opinion, a great book cover is appealing to all ages - yes, it’s a fact that some authors have an age-specific target group. Just this doesn’t work. As an example, you can check out Harper Collins’ classics, the art that they use is classy and works for all ages. Perhaps, the children’s books are an exception here, as children require a different approach.

The third paragraph is accurate. In order to get the desired target audience - depending on their behavior, showing the right image/illustration plays a crucial part.

In many cases, even if it’s a bestseller the average reader won’t know the content judging by the front cover. More likely, they would know because they have already heard about the book across various mediums or read a review and etc.

Indeed, the entire concept of the article is good - but it lacks real facts. Of course, none of the cover designs that I had worked turned into best sellers or even into popular books. However, the gathered knowledge by working directly with the publishers and the authors gave me a lot of insight for the formula of the great cover.

Sometimes, a good cover can be just a cool typeface and an odd abstract shape. Plus, if you promote a book with a shitty cover it can still sell.

The part about choosing wisely is not fully explained. From my perspective choosing wisely would be to consult with a couple of friends, compare your book cover with your competitors, but not just listening to your guts telling you “I LIKE THIS COVER”.

I just realized, this is a long post so FREAKY OUT!

I’ve never worked for a publishing company, therefore do not know the ins and outs of the business. I use a proofreader who actually does.

I originally used her to proof on chapter that I did a major rewrite for and she blew me away with her abilities. She’s given me some awesome tips with the style & such. I guess when you actually work for or have worked for a publishing company, you get a sharper eye for such details.

You should consider writing an article or a blog post on this very subject, since you are extremely knowledgeable! :heart:


This is a great point. :joy:

I am too lazy to start any kind of a blog. :sweat_smile:

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God help the world if you ever become a restaurant critic. Also, keep away from Good Reads. You could quite possibly kill someone. :slight_smile:

For me, ebook covers all come down to budget. I did try outsourcing designs to freelancers and paid between $20 and $150 back in 2014. Sadly, I wasn’t really happy with any of the results. In this case, all my covers now are self made.

They’re ok. The most important thing is that while a bit rubbish, they are masterpieces compared to other self published books in the categories I sell in. Also, I created all my ebook covers pror to discovering Canva. Since then, I’ve knocked up some pretty nice covers for book-like writing projects like this one in literally a few minutes:

All that said, I’ve promised myself that the next time I finish a book, I’m going the traditional publishing route. Self publishing for me is a disaster as far as ROI is concerned. Once upon a time, I had 50 book sales on Amazon a day. Then suddenly, you are dropped, someone steals your book idea, or someone comes along with a bigger marketing budget.

This is why I’d always advise self publishing authors to learn the cover creation and formatting trade themselves. Then funnel money saved into marketing and paid ads.


Reminds me of my gig back in 2011 when it was kicking $$$ as it was unique at that time, then all of a sudden copycats started making clones, and fast forward to 2014: the whole category was filled with similar gigs and my sales started plummeting ever since :roll_eyes:

And now, in 2018, the category has become a meksell paradise :man_facepalming:


Alas, Amazon has way more ways to screw you than Fiverr. There are tons of people who take classic works where copyright has lapsed and convert text into e-book files. Most use automated software and the result is a formatting nightmare. I started taking books and literally rewrote them word for word inside my own ebook creation suite. The end result were Barnes & Noble quality ebooks far superior in quality to alternative versions of the same title.

Sales started going up, everything was rosy, then BAMB! Amazon stared grouping books together in a way where when you search for 1984 (one of the books I publisjed :slight_smile: ) You might see my cover and well-formatted version but end up buying my competitors awfully formatted version. i.e. Amazon doesn’t distinguish between between quality, they just assume all books are formatted equally.

It’s a bit complicated to explain but they basically killed my business overnight. Also, they refused to remove a fake review left for one of my books by the daughter of a competing author. However, they did remove several perfectly legitimate reviews left by people thanking me for exposing details surrounding the murder of some of their loved ones. (It was a true crime book.)

When I complained about this, they told be that they had reason to believe the reviews were fake. However. at the same time a high flying Australian journalist had basically took my book, rewrote it, and was getting tons of PR. In this case, (and since it was his daughter who trashed my book) I think he managed to use his influence to persuade Amazon to play dirty.

Honestly, writing can be scary.

By the way, would you mind if I resold your SEO report gig? Let me know as if so, I’ll order a sample from you when I next have some balance free. :slight_smile:


It was a bit Black Mirror-y. I liked it.

Oh, I don’t know if I can… It was an experiment which died a death. Also, I scare myself sometimes when I go really dark.

I do have fragments of the second chapter scattered about. I could put them together but… Well, writing for an audience of 1 is a bit :poop:

The nightmare cheese story was also good. But yes, writing for 1 is a bit :poop: unless you’re getting paid for it.

I wonder if you could turn it into an erotica story like Chuck Tingle would. I’m not sure he’s still releasing stuff though, or even in erotica kindle is still a thing. But sentient, sexy werecheese with a S&M bent could catch on, you never know.

I can’t do erotica. Apparently Mr. Investor can, though. :slight_smile: I’m more comedy, sci-fi, or maniacal horror. Once I’ve cleaned the house I’ll see if chapter 2 of Steg is salvageable.