book cover design

Your book cover is a powerful marketing tool, and if it’s not hitting the mark, it could be quietly sabotaging your sales. There are a lot of things you need to get right, but most of it is easy if you know about it. Which means, you don’t need to be an expert designer to make a decent cover; but if you’re unprepared, your cover will absolutely look amateurish and homemade.

Let’s take a look at some potential pitfalls…

Issue 1 – Your Cover Doesn’t Match Your Genre

Readers have certain expectations when it comes to genre. A thriller should look intense and mysterious, a romance soft and passionate, and a sci-fi intriguing and futuristic. If your cover design doesn’t match your book’s genre, it might confuse potential readers, causing them to pass over your book. This sounds easy, but it’s actually the #1 thing most authors get wrong… most authors first instinct is to “stand out” by avoiding genre conventions and tropes, and trying to make something completely different that will not attract the right readers. The book cover is marketing and packaging. Don’t get too creative: an ugly cover that does its job will work better than a beautiful cover that doesn’t.

Issue 2 – Poor Quality Design

A low-quality, amateurish cover design can be a major turn-off. Readers may equate a poorly designed cover with poor content. Investing in a professional cover design, or at least learning some key design principles, can make your book more appealing to potential readers. Signs of an amateurish cover:

  • basic or inappropriate fonts
  • poorly blended layers and images
  • low quality or low-res images
  • crowded elements or typography
  • too much text on the cover
  • too many different colors
  • no balance for where the eye should look, so it’s just overwhelming and messy
  • tiny mysterious details that nobody will see and don’t mean anything to readers who haven’t read the book

Issue 3 – Ineffective Typography

Your book title and your name should be clearly readable and attractively presented. Difficult-to-read fonts, tiny print, or an unappealing typography layout can deter potential readers. Your typography should also match the mood and genre of your book to create a cohesive and attractive design. Yes it can be tricky to get right… but that’s what our templates are for!

Issue 4 – Not Optimized for Thumbnail Viewing

Many readers will first encounter your book cover as a small thumbnail image online. If your cover doesn’t look good in thumbnail size, or the title and author name are not clearly visible, potential readers may scroll past without giving your book a second glance. (OK I added this because it’s common advice, but it’s also kind of BS. Readers need to feel the genre and vibe, that’s it. It can look gorgeous and professional even if they can’t really read it – they can read the text right next to it. It’s also important when you zoom in on the actual cover it doesn’t all look huge and bloated). You do want pretty clean text, and a pretty bold/clear title, but not at the expense of the aesthetic, and it doesn’t matter if they can’t read all the tiny text).

Issue 5 – Inconsistent Author Branding

If you’re publishing multiple books, maintaining a consistent author brand is crucial. It helps fans recognize your work and communicates to new readers what they can expect from your books. If your book covers are inconsistent in style or fail to communicate your author brand, it could be harming your sales. Readers also seems to like adding numbers on covers so they can quickly identify which # it is in the series.

A well-designed book cover is a powerful asset that can drive sales and attract readers. If your cover design is not up to par, it could be quietly sabotaging your success. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can create a cover that grabs attention, meets reader expectations, and boosts your book sales.

Stay tuned for more tips on writing, publishing, and book design. Until then, happy writing and designing!

Derek Murphy
Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a cover designing indie author enthusiast, finishing a PhD in Literature and shopping for a castle in Europe.