What Makes A Terrible Book Cover

This shouldn’t come as a revelation to anybody. Readers judge a book by its cover. It’s an unfortunate truth in the book world, but one that a writer must take seriously if they want to rise above the thousands of self and professionally published books that saturate Amazon.com.

Book covers can cost some serious coin. They can run into the hundreds even thousands of dollars depending on what an author wants in a cover.

I’ve tried to keep my prices low, but as I go through the year and business is picking up, I’m forecasting that by June I will have to raise my prices on pre-made covers.

I see authors complain about the prices of book covers all the time. As an author, I felt the same way. I believed these designers didn’t deserve the pay they demanded for an image made digitally.

What I never predicted was my perspective changed once I hopped into the arena of book cover design.

Before I go deeper into lousy book covers, think about this the next time you want to tell a designer they’re too expensive.

  1. We pay for all stock images. Stock images are not cheap. Boutique images are even more expensive. Have you ever tried to buy a stock image? Imagine buying hundreds of images. Yes, there are discounts, but it doesn’t make it any less expensive.
  2. We pay for all our equipment. That means Photoshop, Lightroom, Bridge, InDesign, etc through Adobe. Not to mention our physical needs such as notebooks, paper, pencils, and other art supplies if we need them.
  3. We have bills too. Uh, I need to eat. I need to make my rent, my car payment, my insurance, my utility bills. Sorry, I refuse to fall under the “starving” artist umbrella. I do this because I love creating art, but I need to make money too.
  4. I charge for labor. Sometimes a book cover takes me 2 hours, sometimes I take 48 hours. When I do a custom cover, I charge you for my labor.

All I’m pointing out here is, you want to make money, and like you, I want to make money. Think about the time you put into writing your masterpiece. How much time it takes away from your friends, family, and other obligations. Same with a designer.

But remember the rewards a good book cover will return. According to statistics, a good book cover will net you 25-30% better sales than a lousy one. Consider long term when shopping for a book cover. Do you want to increase your sales, or do you want to sit at the million sales rank on Amazon for all eternity?

Looking back, I should have had those same thoughts when I shopped for book covers. I should have saved my money and bought something decent when I published the Mirror In The Forest Trilogy.

Although Mirror In The Forest has been decent as far as income, I know the covers need improving; I know the story needs tightening and re-editing.



So, why haven’t I changed my book covers for Mirror In The Forest now that I’m professionally designing? One is time constraints. I give my clients my full attention and neglect my writing, marketing and other areas of the book community. Not to say I’m complaining. I’m ecstatic I’m building a loyal following of authors.

The second reason is I’m planning on taking the whole series down after two more books come out. I will rewrite them, redo the book covers, and have them professionally edited.

I consider Mirror In The Forest to be YA to New Adult genre. With all the toxicity now surrounding the #yatwitter community, I want nothing to do with that part of the writing community. I want to separate myself from that negativity. Mirror In The Forest will be re-written with more adult characters, settings, and lean more towards horror.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the topic at hand.

As you can see, I put a huge head on the covers. I don’t what I was thinking when I did this. I can’t remember. I had a hard enough time searching for similar covers in the genre to compare my stories to theirs. I scoured the internet for hours and hours trying to find the right setting. Now, that I look back on it my inexperience in book cover design shows through these covers.

I don’t have a specific image in mind but I know it’ll manifest when I’m ready to publish them again.

If you must make a book cover, download Photoshop. It’s free for the first month and you can get it for as little as $10 per month after that, sometimes they’ll even give you 60 days for free if you’re nice to customer service.

Sit down with your beverage of choice and learn about Photoshop. You don’t need to attend classes and take professional graphic design courses. In fact, a lot of YouTubers I’m about to list taught me more than a stuffy old professor in a class.

For Beginners, I recommend Blue Lightning TV. Marty explains all of Photoshop’s secrets but without being boring. I follow him religiously and watch all his videos because I may learn something new.

PIXImperfect. Unmesh is a great teacher. He’s enthusiastic about Photoshop and entertaining. He covers moderate to advanced Photoshop techniques, but sometimes he’ll teach basics.

The Photoshop Training Channel. Jesus is dry but very effective. When I need a refresher on blending backgrounds, I turn to Jesus.

Phlearn. Aaron and Co. focus on photography techniques. Don’t shy away from this. You need to know those techniques to make a decent book cover.

Runners Up:

Arunz Creation and Rafy A. Both designers focus on fantasy blending and for many fantasy authors, these lessons could be a godsend.

Don’t have time for this you say? No, you don’t but you should.

Why?

Do you want to end up on Lousy Book Covers where critics will laugh at your crappy book covers and sales will dip? I know I don’t.

Well, what makes a bad book cover? To give you an example. I made one.

Images courtesy of Pixabay

I based my example on the horror genre. You’re either cringing or laughing at the absurdity of the images. I kid you not; I belong to some horror groups and I’ve seen covers like this.

First, the images are awful. They don’t match and they’re not blended. I purposely made them look horrible for this blog.

Second, what exactly is this book about? I listed it as horror, but is it? Could it be a mystery thriller, suspense or any of those subgenres? Who’s the clown is he the antagonist? Why does the model look like she’s thinking more than frightened?

Third, so many fonts. I used three different fonts and none come together to create a harmonious look on the book cover.

Fourth, way too many images. It’s overcrowded and convoluted. It hurts your eyes.

This makes a bad book cover.

Next, in my series on book covers, I will write about how to shop for pre-made and custom covers.

Thanks for reading!

Vacancy

Vacancy, my short horror story is free to download on Prolific Works.

Broken Candle Book Designs

Check out my pre-made cover designs on my website and pricing for custom covers.

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bgrovesauthor@gmail.com

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