Does Your Book Cover Need a Makeover?

by | May 25, 2017 | Book Marketing Basics

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Did you know that you have 7 seconds or less to convince someone to buy your book?

And when readers are surveyed, they consistently report book covers plays a major role in purchasing decisions. This is true especially if the author is unknown to them or the book wasn’t recommended to them by a trusted source.

Consider this, when people hear information they’ll likely remember 10% or less three days later. However, when a memorable image is paired with that information, the retention rate skyrockets to 65%.

Need even more proof? Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images and Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images.

My point being: images are powerful. They can make or break your marketing strategy. And if you don’t think your book cover is one of your most powerful tools – you have a lot of catch up work to do on what it means to be a successful author.

So with these important pieces of information in mind, I want to give you some tips on how to utilize the insanely effective, relatively inexpensive strategy known as the book cover makeover. Yep, even if your book is published, it’s not too late to ensure your cover is selling for you! Remember, “it’s okay” is not a marketing strategy.

I connected with and they sent me some great examples of how a book cover makeover can be a huge success, as well as some tips! Here is what their team had to say:

  • The front cover is like a billboard, with mere seconds to attract attention. Be sure it gets attention for the right reasons!
  • A cover shouldn’t tell a novel’s entire story, but provide intrigue.
  • Don’t mix more than 2–3 fonts.
  • Keep your type and any borders at least 1/2” from the edges of your pages.
  • Be aware that the meanings of colors differ with cultures.
  • A good cover will fit with the book’s genre, yet stand out from its competition.

Book Cover Makeover Ideas

And here are some really impressive examples of book cover makeovers that completely changed the book’s marketability!

This book cover makeover took the title from what looked like a copy and paste home job to something that really spoke to the mood of the story. That is, to emotions, without being so literal:

Dark Talisman #bookcovermakeover |

This book’s original cover was hard to read. Plus the author was missing out on a key selling point that shows parents there’s an educational element to it as well. When it comes to non-fiction especially, you don’t want to make people guess – most shoppers don’t have the time:

Iggy Iguana #bookcovermakeover |

BONUS: I previously focused on specific issues we often see with children’s book covers. So, if that’s your genre, please read up on those warnings and tips here!

This title went from being all about the author (with no obvious benefit to the reader), to a travel guide! This is a huge transformation that likely started selling lots more books:

Israel #bookcovermakeover |

The level professionalism was really elevated with this book cover makeover. The background alone on the original was headache inducing. Simply put, there was too much happening. In the new version, the author instantly seems more credible, and the overall look and feel really captures the time period and essence of the topic:

Living in Pioneer Times #bookcovermakeover |

This should be a pretty obvious “win” to anyone making comparisons. But it’s a good reminder that something can look perfectly okay, until you work with a professional designer who can take your vision and make it a product that people want to buy:

Social Story Book #bookcovermakeover |

Book cover cardinal rule: do not put your face on the cover unless you’re a household name. If your target market won’t recognize you, don’t do it. Plus, once you get your mug shot off, there it leaves a lot more room to ensure your title pops:

Sell Your Business #bookcovermakeover |

This cover is a good example of one that really doesn’t speak well to its genre. The original could be a research paper for all we know. The book cover makeover produced imagery that speaks to what works for novels in a way that allows you to allude to different elements in the story. However, it accomplishes this in a way that flows artistically:

Vogel White Bull #bookcovermakeover |

Here’s a great example that shows you don’t always need a full revamp to achieve a much more pleasing, market appropriate effect. The second version has a very current look and feel that speaks to aesthetic trends across multiple industries; it’s a smart way to show the importance of understanding your buyer market and what’s current:

Word of Mouth Marketing #bookcovermakeover |

Having a child with special needs can be very challenging. But if you put yourself in the parents’ shoes, they don’t just want guidance, they want support, and hope, and positivity. This rings true for a lot of books in the self-help and health & wellness categories. Notice how these two makeovers add a much more positive spin on the subject matter. This in turn makes the books much more appealing and marketable:

Aspergers and Girls #bookcovermakeover |

Special Diets for Special Kids #bookcovermakeover |

I hope most of these book cover makeovers make sense to you! Sure, if you only saw the original you might simply shrug and say “It’s okay.” But, once you compare them to a design from someone who does this for a living, who tracks trends and understands visual marketing – it’s a no-brainer.

Not only does a well-done cover sell your book organically, it makes you more marketable. And that’s what usually concerns me when authors reach out for promotional help. When I know a book isn’t doing the author, topic or genre justice, I speak up.

Because the difference in the responses we’d get for “before” vs “after” is likely dramatic. This being from potential readers, reviewers and media!

So at this point you may be willing to give a book cover makeover a shot, but you’re wondering where to start. And you probably want to be able to give the designer some input. I totally get that. I recommend looking at the bestsellers in your primary genre on Amazon. This is usually very telling! If you’re a little skeptical, you’ll expect to see carbon copies of the same concept over and over again (and that’s not what I’m encouraging you to do). However, in reality you’ll get a feel for what works for your genre. This includes fonts, elements, color schemes, and more. And remember,   color is so important for eliciting certain kinds of emotions. This is an important time to leave the ego at the door and learn from those who are already successful!

Once you find some book covers that speak to you, get in touch with a few designers. They should have a portfolio. They should have experience in your genre. And just as importantly, they should be able to share detailed parameters for the work and cost (how many versions and how many edits are included, for example). I’d also recommend working with a designer who has worked with book covers before. Why? Because candidly, there’s a big difference in terms of knowledge between someone who does design work and someone who works with book covers specifically.

Pricing can vary greatly from one designer to the next and just because one charges more doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your book, so don’t force it. Expect to see quotes everywhere from $200 to $1500 and up. But honestly if you’re getting quotes in the $100-$500 range that’s likely your sweet spot. I’ve had covers designed for $2500, $700 and for $250 – sometimes it also depends on the genre. Fiction books, in general, tend to be less expensive in terms of cover design,

Once you have your cover it gets real easy! Amazon has clear steps for dealing with image changes on their website.

If you have a successful book cover makeover for one of your books, please post on our social media with before and after photos using #bookcovermakeover! We’ll pick a winner at random and share their book with my extensive social networks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


  1. Kevin

    Neither of the Vogel and the White Bull covers are that great. The “before” cover may not give much of a clue to genre, but it would at least pique my interest enough to pick it up to see what it’s about (unless, of course, it were in a section of the store that I wouldn’t normally visit). The typography of the “after” cover doesn’t fit the design very well, and the background itself feels like kind of a mess.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Kevin, thanks for your input and for reading!

  2. Clinton Lewis

    I liked the article and the before and after’s were pretty stark. I would of liked to have seen some companies you recommend for covers. I’ve seen a good chunk of them out there but its always nice to cross reference.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Thank you for reading – I appreciate your feedback!



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