Is Your Book Cover A Stinker?

I know I’ve had a lot of posts lately about my books, but I promise I have a bacon post coming up.

*** BACON ***

If you are a man reading this, please comment as to if that word caused some type of reaction within you. I’d like to know for my research.

Today, I want to talk about book covers. I’m not an expert, and for as many times as I’ve Imagechanged my covers, I am definitely not the person to be giving you advice.

The look of a cover is not a deal breaker for me, but some definitely pull me in more than others. I do like when a cover gives me an idea about the book – at least the genre. I saw a lovely cover recently that gave the impression of being a memoir, both via the title and the soft abstract style of the design. I was surprised to read the blurb and discover it was a romantic comedy.

I know my covers don’t follow the rules of the experts. They wouldn’t like the font, the placement of my name, or the fact that they are on the “busy” side. They would be critical of my using a clichéd pink theme for chick lit. I don’t care. I wanted pink covers, and I was going to have them.

It was my idea to have Susan in gym clothes with a racquet in Florida. I thought racquetball would play a strong role in all of the books, but it doesn’t. It isn’t even the main theme of Sunshine Hunter.

After the fifth book was published, I knew it was time to make the first one free. Then it hit me – change the cover again! I sent this note to my niece: “You won’t believe this, but I want to go back to Sunshine Hunter. I think the sports theme is keeping people from giving the book a chance.”

The book is chick lit first. There is a mystery, a little romance, and some humor. Having a Imageracquet on the cover was definitely giving the wrong impression. I think I realized this several months back, but I didn’t act on the nagging feelings.

The book went free at Barnes & Noble on February 20. The cover change showed up the next morning. I saw later that the book was promptly listed by two Nook Facebook sites, and the downloads at Barnes & Noble started right away. I didn’t know it at the time, but sales of the other books in the series started the very next day.

I truly believe that changing the cover on Sunshine Hunter to a cuter, more girly cover representing Chick Lit made a huge difference in people choosing to download the book or not. To all of the over 20,000 people who have downloaded the book so far – thank you! Thank you to everyone who has read their download, and another big thank you if you have chosen to read more of Susan’s (mis)adventures. I’m grateful and appreciative.


Bacon post coming up. I promise!

Have you always loved your book cover? Have you had any nagging feelings about it? Have you changed your cover, and if so, how many times? I know I’m not alone in this.

95 thoughts on “Is Your Book Cover A Stinker?

  1. Covers are tricky. I really love mine for my upcoming book, The Vampire’s Gallery. I like your covers too though. They’re sunny, and while cliche, the pink tells you what’s inside (bubblegum tastiness).

  2. My worst book cover I have is the one I did on my own and it took only a few minutes. Then again, it’s not horrendous and I have no intentions on making money off this one. It’s just old blog postings I’ve done in hopes it would drive traffic to my blog. It’s had quite a few downloads so far. I’m still working on getting it free on Amazon. They’re such sneaks about that. It’s only been about a week.

    I think your book covers are great by the way. They’re all very catchy and from what I know about the content they seem to fit well. I think book covers might be only slightly more important than titles but of course that can change at times. Some of the covers I’ve seen though, wow. You just know the content in the book probably isn’t any good either.

    • You publish at Smashwords, too, yes? There are some really horrible covers there. I have to remind myself that if I didn’t have my niece doing my cover art, I would be struggling with homemade covers, and I could have a terrible cover, too. With that in mind, I try to read blurbs and download/buy based on what the book is about. I like supporting people who self-publish, and don’t want to dismiss their work based on the cover.

      When physically looking at books to buy, I like when either the cover or the title gives an idea as to what the content is about. Sometimes, I have to shop fast, and all I have to go by is what I see first.

      • Oh there’s nothing wrong with judging a book by its cover, literally. Don’t do it with people, but with books it’s fine. If someone puts up a book with a lesser cover they aren’t taking it seriously which means they probably didn’t even edit their book. I judge bloggers based on their avatar photos sometimes because certain faces or pictures will catch my eye easier. It’s only natural 🙂

        The worst covers I think are the ones belonging to 4,000 word eroticas. Some are literally a picture the author took of themselves then stuck some font on there.

        • I love some of the avatars around here. A few of them have scared me away though. I finally turned my adult filter on at Smashwords so I wouldn’t have to watch so many terrible, cheesy covers scroll by.

          • The things some people will pay money to read…

            You would think looking at Smashwords all you need to do is be a 22 year old female with a hard body and a couple thousand words to be a legitimate author.

  3. I was relieved and thrilled when I saw what my cover artist came up with for my book. The cover artist was assigned me through the publisher, and although I could share my insights on what he/she came up with, they were the ultimate designer of it. But I couldn’t have been happier. He sent me his initial idea. We agreed on one small adjustment. He sent me the follow-up jpeg, and I was thrilled. What a relief!

    • Before I knew you, and I had only seen the title of your book, I thought it had to with an Indian tribe. Once I saw your cover, it was immediately clear I was in the wrong genre. You have a great cover. I love the red in the syringe, and look how appropriately big your name is! You certainly had someone who listened to your input and came up with an appealing cover.

      • The thing is, I didn’t even give my input first! The publisher had me fill out a form for the cover artist–basically just telling him/her what the book was about–and then the artist would come up with something and see if I approved. I couldn’t believe how well he nailed it! Right down to the sweat underneath her gloves. 🙂

  4. If the cover matches the theme of the book, it helps people make a quick judgement on if they want to read it or not, in my opinion. ‘Never judge a book by the cover’ is not always true, the image can grab your attention quickly and prompt a read of the contents.
    The only problem I have with bacon is that I suspect that I am eating something more intelligent than me 😀

    • ‘Never judge a book by the cover’ – I had to force myself to leave that line out of my post. I don’t want to judge a book by its cover, but I think we all do to some extent – or a big extent. I’m a stubborn sort, so I’m glad I’ve been willing to listen to the nagging bloke who resides in my brain, and that I finally made changes to my covers.

      Pigs are said to be on par in intelligence with dogs. Sometimes our dogs are smarter than I am, so maybe you are on to something there. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I love your book covers! They do fit the book and style of writing. Bright, and breezy, which I like. Now my book cover that I won on NaNoWriMo is awesome, but unfortunately I couldn’t use it for the book if I wanted to. But also, the way my book has changed I don’t think the cover would convey what I want it to for this book. We will have to wait and see as I’m not done with the book yet.
    I’m sorry, but bacon did nothing for me….now if you would have said “canadian bacon”……..bwahahahaha

    • If you wanted to use the cover, could you? Or would you have to pay for it if you did? I think it’s fantastic. … But if it’s not right for the book, it doesn’t matter how great it is, it will make you crazy.

      I remember the first time I ever had Canadian bacon. Dad wanted it, so Mom bought some. I was really excited to have bacon from another country. When Mom put it on the table, and we ate it, I remember whining because it wasn’t bacon – it was just little ham. 🙂

      • haha well it’s not like Texas where everything is bigger. So canadian bacon is ham/bacon….kinda….. 😉
        the book cover can’t be used on any book that is for sale. NaNo rules. I love it too, but as I got further into writing the book it changed so much it no longer fit it, even if I could use it, which I can’t.

        • Then that’s good. But what’s the point of giving someone a great cover for a book they wrote, and then not letting them sell the book? No sir, I don’t like it. But really happy you won the cover. 🙂

          • yeah, that point is kinda sucky, but I was quite pumped I won it on my very first NaNo and very first book. 🙂 hmmm does your niece do work for others?

    • Thank you, Carolyn. Sometimes I think my brain is on these books 100% of the time. Lately it’s been marketing, and the wheels won’t stop. But I’m happy, and I believe it will all pay off in the end. Even if it came to a screeching halt today, I’d be really happy with what I’ve accomplished so far.

  6. It’s awesome that your books are doing so well! Congrats. =D As far as covers go, I think your 2nd version of Sunshine Hunter definitely presents the book better. My covers… the current Puppet Parade cover is actually the second. I didn’t like the first one the designer came up with and requested a do-over. Of course, now some people mistake it for an erotica thanks to Fifty Shades. =/

    • Thank you, Zen. I didn’t know what you meant until I went and looked at the covers of Fifty Shades. The masks are very similar. Maybe it’s a good thing. Considering the readers of FS aren’t all erotica readers, maybe many of them will spot your book, read the blurb, and buy!

  7. I like Susan in the dress walking along the beach cover, and I felt more readers would like it over a sports theme. I also like the large shark by the boat…this is Susan Hunter, and perplexities and danger are always lurking nearby 🙂

    As for bad covers, there is a writer blog that keeps promoting a ‘fantasy/wizard land’ author compilation book, and the cover is terrible. Unless you really look at it, the picture of the back of a hooded woman caring a basket looks like the side view of hooded troll smoking a long stem pipe.

    Bacon is bacon, does nothing special for me, sorry. Now cheesecake…

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence on the cover. I’d like to see that hooded troll smoking a long stem pipe. 😉

      I’m with you on cheesecake. I love it, and it’s my go-to dessert when out for dinner. Yum!

    • LOL!! That is one of the best things about self-publishing. You can do anything you want. I did ask Chris for his permission ahead of time. 🙂 You should look at the review he left for me at Amazon for this book. He’s so funny.

      I’ve never tried chocolate covered bacon, but if you are recommending it, I will!

      • I haven’t tried it…but it’s a “thang” here. Esp to put on top of maple cupcakes. I plan on trying. I will check out the review by Chris. He is a hoot. Congrats on everything!!! 🙂 Now how do you autograph my e-books?!?

    • Thank you, Dianne. I’m really happy with how things are going – for now. I realize this business is a roller coaster ride of emotions, but I’m going to enjoy this up side while I can. 🙂

  8. I admit, covers can be that attention-grabber that convinces you to give a book a second look. Or not. I do hate it when a book I enjoyed or that I think I might enjoy changes itself to plaster the star of the movie based on the book, though . . .

    • Thanks, Bo. The numbers on the free downloads have surprised me. They finally peaked, and are on the way down, but it was fun to watch. Bacon post will be up next week when hubby is out of town and can’t defend himself. 😉

  9. I’m designing my own right now & it’s driving me positively apeshit bananas. However, it’s a welcome insanity. I need to get this way in order to make something great. 😛
    Many Congrats on your book sales & downloads. I am loving them so far. I won’t say much more until I finish them all but I really, really enjoy your writing, Maddie. 🙂

    • You are artistic, and I know you will come up something really great. We are re-doing the New York cover, and hubby and I are trying our hand at it before sending it off to my niece. They are so hard to do! Transparent .gifs are giving us fits! At least I’m learning a few new things.

      So glad to hear you are enjoying the books. I really appreciate it, and am delighted you are reading. Thank you. A real stinker of a review came in last night at Amazon, and I just have to keep reminding myself that the books aren’t for everyone, and there are good reviews, too. 🙂

      • Oh well you can expect some lovely ones from me on iBooks and possibly even on here if I have your blessing. 🙂 I dunno how anyone could not fall in love with Susan! She’s like so many of us chickies out there. Probably some woman-hater that just got dumped by a gal just like Susan. 😛

        • LOL! I will take all of the help I can get. 🙂 This light fare isn’t for everyone, and with so many free books out there now, I think I need to expect more stinker reviews.

          I’m going to stop over at your blog later today. I have a lot of reading and catching up to do with you, and you are on my list for today! 🙂

          • *Hugs* I was spurting out quite a few posts lately. Now, I’m slowing down a bit, though. I’m throwing all of my energy into my ongoing writing projects and that pesky cover! *Here’s to strength and inspiration for both of us*

            P.S. If you ever want to find a starting point over at my little blog, just shuffle through the tiny Archive Calendar and you should be able to find wherever you left off.

  10. I’m surprised you don’t have a link to your free book and others on your sidebar. People are lazy and if they have to go searching, they tend not to.

    I tried to access Breezy Books three times and it wouldn’t load. Not sure if it’s Google Chrome or the link that’s at fault, but you might want to check it.

    Congratulations, BTW, on your stats! I’m glad it’s doing so well.

    • Thank you! I’ve been working today on my blog home page and changed a few things based on your comments.

      Rather than a link, I used a linked graphic to direct people to my official website. I moved my archives to below my books. All of the books in my sidebar are linked to Amazon, but I changed the picture of Sunshine Hunter to show Free across the front, and linked it to a page on the official site indicating where it can be downloaded for free. Hopefully, these will all be good changes. I made sure the full web addresses were linked (rather than just starting with www), so the loading problems should be gone.

      A box of virtual chocolate and a bouquet of virtual flowers is on its way to you now. Thank you. 🙂

    • You’re allowed to choose a book for its cover. 🙂 I’m the same way at times. And you’re right – when I see a cover I really like, I can’t think of when I’ve ever been disappointed.

  11. Mmmm, bacon….
    Sorry, what were you saying?
    Oh, yeah, changing book covers.
    Covers don’t always grab me either. Sometimes I might recognise a cover as being from a particular author but I usually read the blurb before deciding to buy it. Changing a cover should be fine. You see that all the time.
    Had lunch at Grill’d yesterday. Bacon and Cheese burger. Didn’t read the rest of the ingredients! 😉

    • Bacon and Cheese burger. 🙂 That sounds really good to me. I have to admit, I’m not turned off by anything on a menu with bacon.

      We’re re-doing the New York book cover, and my ideas are all wrong. It was back to the drawing board again this weekend. I think once all of the changes are made to my covers, I’ll even feel more confident about putting my work out there.

    • Thank you, Valerie. I saw a tweet go by from you the other day with my book in it. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that; thank you. I simply must get over my fear and figure out what to do with Twitter.

  12. I’ve yet to complete my first book, but I have to admit I’m as excited about designing the cover as I am about writing. What I love about what you do is that you stay authentic. I think you’re spot on. When my time comes, I hope to stick to my guns the way you have. If you want pink, then of course it should be pink!

    • Michelle, with your beautiful artwork, I know your cover will be spectacular! I’m going to be me no matter what happens. Just being my silly self has brought me this far, and although some of the negative reviews dampen my spirits, I’m just going to keep on going and be me. I find a lot of inspiration in the things you write, and although I don’t chime in every day, I appreciate your posts.

  13. It’s so awesome you have all those statistics at your command so quickly! I love your new cover! Not only does it go with the rest of the series more now since it is the beginning it’s a great introduction to Susan. She’s walking right into your life and just like her you have no idea what adventures await on a seemingly normal getaway. The boat, the shark, wow I was so surprised! I ended up slipping away not just at lunch to read it but instead of the portrait I was supposed to be finishing. Love it when that happens!
    I am now on book two and about wet my pants with your opening line. Bravo! These are so fun! I’m so glad you sat down with your muse out of the blue last year and began the adventure!

    • Pam, you are a breath of fresh air today! I had my first two-star reviews at Amazon, and they kind of took the wind out of my sails. It’s good to be humble though.

      I’m so very happy that you were entertained by the first book. Thank you so much for reading and going on to number two!! I appreciate it – and I appreciate you! 🙂

  14. Awww I’m so sorry! My sails have been kicked overboard on a few occasions. It sucks. I gave you a review on Amazon tonight. It’s my very first review! I didn’t realize some people give gazillion reviews as if it is their occupation. Well maybe it is. Doesn’t mean anyone agrees with them. Some critics are frustrated want-to-be writers.

    • Pam, you are a dear! 🙂 It’s been a dark, rainy day, and we had a four-hour power outage tonight or I would have written earlier this evening. Thank you so much for the wonderful review. You made me laugh, and you made my day. I feel sort of fearless again, and I ponied up some money for a marketing campaign.

      My husband is finally in Vegas, but his luggage was lost clear back in Chicago. If you see him naked on the strip, be sure to say hello.

      Thank you again. I appreciate you so much!

      • Oh was that him on the news! Hahahaha. I hope his luggage shows up. Well two stinker reviews out of 20,000 downloads not too bad! Funny it’s the two that get you.
        I appreciate how brave you are and how excited you are and how you share your information and show the rest of us how to do it. You’re leading the way even through the weedy part of the garden. My novels are in the drawer waiting for me to get it together.

        • I know! It’s the two that just kill you! 20,000 downloads might translate to a couple of hundred people reading, but after two came in so close together, I had that horrible dread feeling a couple hundred more stinkers were right behind. It really is a roller coaster ride. … I would love to read your books one day, and I know I want to see Buttercup and Hank in picture books, and the ABC Basset Hounds. 🙂 Thanks again, Pam!
          (Still no luggage for Rich. :-))

  15. I’m back at school where everyone has a manuscript and I don’t. I know nothing about that world. But as a civilian, I can tell you what I like. First thing that catches my eye is the front cover, then the blurb on the back cover and then I read the first couple of paragraphs. Maddie, your covers are as bright and breezy as you and your books are.

    • That’s how I buy my books in person when I can pick them up and hold them in my hand. I think I give less credence to the cover for my eReader. Thank you for the kind words, Mary.

      • Yes, but I meant to add that when it comes to front covers a lot can be learned from old hard cover books. Especially when they are crime / mystery stories. A lot of the old ones show clues that might catch the eye, but mean nothing until you’ve read the story. Then you go back and check it out, with an ‘oh, yeah, I should have realised that.’

        • I love the old crime / mystery book covers. They really did tell a story, didn’t they – and, yes, they held surprises.

          When I shop for children’s books at library used book sales, I have to shop as fast as I can with a lot of other people. If I just scan titles, I pick out very few books, but if I can flip each book quickly, I can tell just by a quick peek at a cover if it’s a book I can sell or not. Covers are surely more important than I give them credit for. Something I’m learning the hard way – but I’m learning!

          • Maddie, what do you mean by ‘if it/’s a book I can sell or not’? Do you sell second hand books? I love second hand bookshop owners. They know so much more than people who sell new books and it’s just about a job for them.

            • I’ve been selling used children’s books for over fifteen years now. I have a list of approx. 300 families who purchase from me, and I post to another group of about 800 families. However, a few years ago, I took my business down from a running 5,000-7,000 books at any given time to about 500. Rich and I have talked about this extensively, and I think I’ll be closing up shop in a few months. It’s been labor intensive because the families buy a lot of books, and the heavy boxes of books are just getting to be too much for me handle. It’s been fun, but I’m glad I have writing now to fill the gap.

  16. “You can’t tell a book by its cover, but you can always tell bacon from broccoli.” –old jungle saying

    I think most people would have stuck with their original cover design. But Maddie Cochere is not most people. Your analysis was sound, and you’re an author who knows marketing is extremely important if one hopes to be read. I applaud your intelligence, your energy, and that delightful bacon fragrance you’re wearing… : )

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