By Hazel Lau | Get free updates on new posts here
4 Mistakes Why Your Book Cover Sucks
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When it comes to cover design, authors like to do funny things.
I will show you some of the bad cover examples I got from this site called Kindle Cover Disasters.
(Really, that is the last place you want your cover to be at.)
Let me be clear, I don’t mean to make fun of those covers and their authors or whoever made them, but clearly, there are things we can learn from covers that are not selling.
I summarised them into these four main mistakes that I see happen a lot of times. If your cover isn’t a selling one, chances are, you’ve made one of them below.
Mistake 1: Looks self-published
The worst mistake you could make is letting your cover look self-published, period.
First of all, I don’t mean to put down those who are trying to make their own covers.
You’re probably a self-published author or wanted to be one, if you’re reading this. I believe you care more than anyone else about the quality of your books because you understand that self-publishing doesn’t necessary mean low budget and low quality.
Unfortunately, many readers don’t get that.
They tend to see self-published books as if it’s something of lower quality, being produced without proper quality control, and by amateur authors who have no budget. (That is why they self-publish because they aren’t good enough to be picked up by main stream publishers, isn’t it?)
These three books are all about Christian Romance, which one grabs you?
Therefore, if your covers don’t reflect substantial values and simply look like homemade, then it could be a big turn off to your potential audience. The reason why most homemade covers look bad because the creators don’t have a keen grasp of design sense and tend to violate rules of making good covers.
Mistake 2: Too “unique”
When it comes to design, it’s hard not to think about being creative. And when it comes to creativity, it’s also hard not to think about being unique.
Another common mistake authors make is they think that if they have to design a good cover, it has to be “unique”, one that has never been seen before in the market.
This is not true. Let me explain.
Remember I said, what a good cover should do is catching your audience’s attention by sending out the right signals?
To do that, it actually means avoiding being too unique in your cover design.
So, if you’re selling a cookbook, then your book cover has to look like a cookbook cover and that also means it has to look like many other cookbooks in the market.
This is because most genres have their own common practices to follow.
What are these practices? Try studying the covers of top 10 to 20 books on Amazon in any genre, you’ll soon learn most of them follow similar patterns, whether it’s in the layout, font types, colours, sometimes even the images used.
Play this in your mind, your book covers will be displayed side-by-side with a dozen over books in the same genre and be seen on the shelves at the same time. You want it to look appealing enough but not totally different from the rest. If your covers don’t seem to follow the patterns or at least look like they belong there, then your books will slip away from your audience’s eyes easily.
Mistake 3: Overuse of design elements
As humans, we are afraid of missing out.
That’s why we want to have it all and more because of the fear of missing out. Agree?
The fear of missing out leads some authors into doing the same for their covers. That’s when you see a cover which has just too many things on it.
Same title, but which one looks more appealing to you? Why do you think so?
Too many fonts. Too many colours. Too many words. Too many pictures.
On top of that, they also give away too many details about the book, thus making the design too complex, which in turn mask the important messages and confuse their audience. Then, they wonder why their books aren’t selling well!
Mistake 4: No hierarchy
Have you seen a cover and felt that it’s just messy and lack of a focal point? The cover just looks busy, “flat” and has no hierarchy. You may also feel that it’s nothing more than just text and pictures put together casually without too much consideration in the arrangement.
The cover is not being “designed” at all.
Is the story about spaceship, pirates, Indian, or donuts? Hmm.
This mistake can happen when too many elements are on the cover, where each one tries to demand your attention and none is doing great in the end. Without having a main design element in focus, the cover fails to let audience perceive what the book’s subject is, and lose their attention almost immediately.
*If you’re one of the authors of the book covers above, contact me here if you want a makeover. I’m willing to redesign your cover at 50% discount since I used them as examples.