Despite the age-old adage, people still do judge a book by its cover #IndieAdvice

One of the biggest disservices an Indie Author can do to their story is slap a poorly-made cover on it. It saddens me that so many authors fail to give proper attention to this crucial step in marketing. This is the public face of your story. With thousands and thousands of covers showing up in eBook libraries daily, customers typically scroll quickly until a cover catches their eye. If your cover is boring or ugly, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you have poured into your story. If you want to reach readers, you need to make the proper investment and pay a cover artist.

I’m also guilty of the “I can do it myself” mindset. I’ve had all these thoughts before: I’ve got Photoshop and I’ve watched several YouTube videos – so now I’m a pro. Right?


Please, please, please learn from my bumbling mistakes! Years ago I came up with the idea that some of the most famous books out there have covers with a symbol or object on it.

Image result for Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series

For example, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga all have various objects that are completely unrelated to the story with a black background. Additionally, Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games Series has various versions of a symbol portraying mockingbird which is also very much unrelated to the story Image result for Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Series(although there are a few light references to an experiment on birds gone wrong). I thought I had stumbled across the holy grail of book cover marketing – make a cover with a symbol on it that has basically nothing to do with the story!

So… Here was my first failed attempt:


Some of you might recognize the symbol above (LOL). This was the first time I ever used it. I launched my book on June 1st 2016 with high expectations. I had exactly one sale during the first two months. Frustrated, I decided to try again by adding some special-looking effects to the original attempt:


I then released it again with a 5-day free promotion. I had 189 downloads and hit #9 in the Free category in Christian Fantasy. I fully expected to get at least a few reads and reviews out of that endeavor. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive any. To this day, all 189 of those copies are likely still sitting unread and gathering dust on the virtual shelves of 189 Kindles.


So, I went back to the drawing board – literally. I spent several days working on this e-sketch using stock photos and filtering methods in Photoshop until my computer could no longer handle the massive size of this PSD file:


The image had the general essence I was looking for, but I’m no artist. I finally abandoned the attempt, and then a few months later I reached out to a cover artist. I presented her with the above sketch and told her that this was the basic feel I was trying to go for. When I got the image back for my cover, I was in utter shock. It was perfect!

Conquest Kindle-New6

When I re-launched the third time, I hit as high as #6,428 in the Paid category for about an hour. Needless to say, clearly this new cover did the trick.


So, please! Don’t sell your stories short. Take the time and money to invest in a good cover. Your efforts will be rewarded!

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2 thoughts on “Despite the age-old adage, people still do judge a book by its cover #IndieAdvice

  1. Sadly, you’re right. I thought the cover didn’t matter – why should a real reader care about the cover – but it’s what grabs attention, especially, as you say, when they are scrolling through pages of covers.
    On the other hand, how can you spend £200 on a cover for a 0.99p book that might only sell 10 copies? It’s a dilemma.

    Like you, I tried an old formula. The Gollancz SF line used to have bright yellow covers so I made that my background, stuck an image in the middle, the title on top and published it. To me, it looked pretty good. My sales stayed at a nice round figure: 0

    Happily, I found an artist who has a gallery of pictures and will slap your title on one for just $35. I knew her from the covers to magazines I’ve had short stories in. Of course, the cover isn’t exclusive for that price – a custom made one costs $135 – but something fairly generic will do for a short story collection and hers were much better than mine. Sales haven’t increased much but free downloads have soared!

    A professional cover looks much better than an amateur one but it’s a hard lesson when you’re counting the pennies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eamonn for adding your experience. It’s sad, but very true indeed. On the flip side: one of the worst things an Indie Author can do is try to mimic the cover of a traditionally published bestseller of a well established author. Readers of these authors don’t care what the cover looks like – they only care that J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown just published another long-awaited novel. It could have a garbage cover and the reader might complain about said cover in their review, but regardless they would still buy it.


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