Sell More Books With These Critical Cover Rules

by | Feb 7, 2018 | Bestseller Essentials, Book Marketing Basics

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Almost every author that reaches out to me wants to sell more books, so you’re not alone. But surprisingly, aside from doing no marketing, the number one hurdle is often the book cover design.

Unfortunately this is a much more common problem for indie authors because we’re left to our own devices, we don’t have a publishing house making expert recommendations  to a team of in-house professional designers.

But indie authors don’t get a free pass, if you want to sell more books you need to take a hard look at your book cover, and determine whether it’s supporting your book marketing in all the right ways.

Everything should be easy to read

Your book cover needs to be clear, concise, and easy to read.

Yes, you may have a great review and you may think slapping it on the cover will help you sell more books. But if you can’t incorporate it in an visually appealing way, it will just detract from your book marketing efforts.

Same goes for photographs. I’ve worked with a lot of authors that bring some great personal photographs to the table, but they don’t translate into a powerful book cover.

Indie authors need to remember to check their ego at the door when it comes to book cover design, and focus on what really works.

This is a great example of a clear, concise, easy to read cover:

Sherry Gore Book Cover |

Design your book cover for online shopping

Book marketing in this day and age is about being savvy online, and your book cover is no exception.

So if you want to sell more books you need a book cover that’s been designed for online shopping.

Yes, your original design may look good as a full sized PDF on your computer, but shrink it down to an Amazon-sized thumbnail before making final decisions.

This is an example of a cover that just has way too much crammed onto it to be impactful online:

Sell More Books With These Critical Cover Rules |

Always consider your genre

Creating a design that fits in with your genre will automatically call to those most likely to buy your book.

And don’t think broad book marketing here, think niche, so, not simply romance, but paranormal fantasy romance. Or not just business, but personal finance.

As part of your book marketing approach, you should have detailed descriptions and demographics of your target buyer markets. Use these to determine what your book cover design needs to convey to be associated with things they already like to buy.

Is there any doubt in your mind this is a thriller/crime novel?

Sell More Books With These Critical Cover Rules |

Goals need to evoke the right feeling

What are your goals and who aligns with those goals?

If you’re looking to sell more books, you sometimes have to take the genre notes a step further. Remember that your book cover design should also communicate your goals in a way that resonates with your buyer market.

Book marketing is about connecting, and it takes some finesse.

This is an example of a book cover that just has too much text. The author wanted to go for a “look” but it’s not something you’d associate with higher consciousness:

Sell More Books With These Critical Cover Rules | 

Aim for trendy without being cliché

Marketing and advertising are all based on psychology, making connections.

So you want to be sure the imagery and font you’re using represents what we’re seeing in the world today if the book is current, or what people were seeing in the past, if the book is historical.

This book was published in 2017 and is supposed to be about color theory. But the hard to read text and dated images of women do not make the author seem like a trustworthy authority on women’s lifestyle topics or women’s needs in today’s society:

 Sell More Books With These Critical Cover Rules |

Bonus book marketing tips!

Don’t use clip art, there’s no need for it.

Children’s books are bought by adults. so writing a children’s book does not give you a free pass to use corny graphics or your granddaughter’s preschool artwork. Hire a professional, use little Madison’s drawing as part of your acknowledgments.

Don’t illustrate your own cover. You may be an artist (or think you are) but that has no place on your cover unless you’re making a living at it and even then, be careful. Use your art within the story if it’s relevant, or use it as bonus content on your blog or social media. But pay a professional book cover designer to do the cover. Hiring qualified professionals is money well spent.

If you want to sell more books, you need to have a product that looks better, if not at least as good, as the books on the shelf at the store. Your book cover must be competitive.

Head to your local Target and check out their book section. All of the covers are top notch. There’s a reason for that, and it’s because the author and/or their publisher understood how critical a good cover can be to a book’s success.

And if you think your cover is there but the needle isn’t moving on your book sales, I’d love to work with you on a personalized assessment!


  1. Biola Shofu

    I would like your suggestion for a new book cover. my book is about the effects of child molestation on my life but I should say that it leads to domestic violence. I would consider using words alone to illustrate the book. Also what should I focus on in terms of genre in the description?

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Biola, thank you so much for reading. It sounds like you might benefit from some personal coaching time. Please email my team at [email protected] so we can get you set up!



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