Let’s get one thing straight, BOOK COVERS ARE IMPORTANT.

That’s because the right book cover can change your life. And authors don’t just know this, they’ve lived it. 

Most of the time, book authors have their fair share of pain, regret, and embarrassment of short-term thinking by designing a book cover. Sometimes, authors would make the mistake of designing their own book covers, or worse, hire the wrong person to do it. We get, it, sometimes, we are all guilty of wanting to save a few dollars. 

In his blog, book publisher  Alexander von Ness shared how important book covers are. He claimed that in their first few books, he and his partner decided to do everything by themselves. 

Well, the trick kind of worked, at first. 

However, when they released their third book- it became a massive flop. Initially, Alexander thought that the book would be such a big hit. He explained, “it wasn’t just for the retail industry. It was a book on overcoming fear failure and rejection in sales. It had the potential to be a massive success! We called it Go for No!® and we published it in January of 2000.”

he continued that in the process of book publishing, “We created the text AND the cover in Word! (Crazy, right?) Amazon did not exist, so we did an “offset” print run which meant that we ordered books directly from a book printer. To get the cost per unit down, we ordered 10,000 copies. Once the books arrived, we mailed 500 copies to decision-makers (like Vice Presidents and Sales Managers) and the mailing was received with a resounding thud. Crickets.” 

 “We just couldn’t understand it—somehow, we’d missed the mark. We knew the content was powerful. Did it look fabulous? Well, no – not really, but did that matter so much? Who cared about the cover? It’s the inside that matters.” 

Well, content is what always matters- right? Well not really. Von Ness admitted that the book became unsellable and that they have to stop marketing it because they were not seeing any results. 

However, just when Von Ness finally gave up on the book, an amazing opportunity landed on their lap. He claimed that “A few years later, we were at a conference in Las Vegas for professional speakers. We decided to bring some of the Go for No! books and give them away. We took twenty copies with us and gave them out to people we met at the conference.” 

Von Ness went on, “As we were ready to leave on the final day, we had one book left. I overheard that the guy sitting in front of us was in sales, so I told Richard to give him our last copy. Three days later, we were sitting in the office and the phone rang. It was the sales guy we gave the book to – a guy named, Tom. Tom said, “I’m calling about your book.”


The publisher noted that the caller said, “I don’t know if you realize it, but I think you’ve created one of the best sales ever written… with the worst cover in the history of publishing. If you’re willing to change the cover, I’ll take 5,000 copies.”

Then, it finally struck them, “No wonder the mailings aren’t working. No one is reading the book because the cover sucks!”

Now, if you don’t want to go that same path, you should definitely hire a book cover designer. not a graphic artist, but someone who really knows the real deal. 

A book cover designer!

Von ness explained the difference, “It is a specific skill. Why does it matter? Would you hire a chef from France to make you sushi? Yes, they both work with food but it’s a different skill set.

Now for the good news… and more bad news.

Fortunately, they changed the book cover and the book actually started to sell!

He reminded publishers and authors, “Now, are we saying the cover was everything? Obviously, if the book content was bad, it wouldn’t have the staying power. But don’t miss the lesson: A great book cover can’t guarantee a book’s success. But a bad cover can pretty much guarantee a book’s failure.” 

Now for the bad news.

However, just like most authors, Von Ness claimed that he made the same mistake. “When it came time to do a series of fiction books years later – a lifetime “dream project” of ours, would you believe that we let the same thing happen.”

Learning from previous experience, he claimed that they asked someone for help I’m making their book covers. “Yep. We didn’t personally design the cover this time, but we oversaw it because as writers, we had a “vision” that we could not let go of. We refused to be dictated by the genre we were in.”

He shared that, “Our series was a supernatural/paranormal suspense. We didn’t want to look like everyone else and insisted on being different! Did we create covers that would be of obvious interest to the readers who love paranormal suspense? Nope.

Vo Ness explained, “Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, a book cover has one job: To compel the potential buyer to read the back cover… or in the case of online, the book description. And then from there, to buy and read the book. Ours failed.” 

He said that the reason for the book”s failure is that, ‘It didn’t communicate the genre. People didn’t get what it was about by looking at it. And because we were involved, it was amateurish and missing the professionalism you get from a book designer. We knew we had a great series – with a cover problem all over again. We had a choice: start over or go along hoping that the cover was “good enough.”


But what about the expense? Isn’t a book designer expensive?

Not really. Besides, what do you have to lose? You’ve spent so much time, energy, and money – hiring a skilled book cover designer from the beginning would have been cheap in comparison.

In summary, a bad cover can be the most expensive mistake you’ll ever make. You must have the courage to judge your book by the cover! Because everyone else absolutely will!

This content was originally published here.

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