A Few Words On Covers

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while. Those who know me, know that I take the covers of my titles very seriously. I sometimes will work on a cover before I write a project. The idea for the plot/story inspires my choice of cover, and the resultant story is in turn inspired by the cover as I write. I will keep looking at the cover and saying to myself “Yeah, this is what I was aiming for.”

I see a lot of bad cover design in the Kindle Store. A lot. But I also see a lot of good covers out there. These are the people doing it right.

Speaking as a book person, with shelves of books, I’m sure you can relate to how annoying it is to collect a series and have different styles of covers on show. It’s so frustrating to read a series, and for the publisher to change the design of the books halfway through.

Most people won’t go back and re-buy the older titles in the new editions merely to match with the new ones they’ve brought. So they end up with a mismatched collection.

I’ll admit it’s a little different when it comes to ebooks. You don’t have shelves on which to display them. BUT it matters in the store.

Uniformity of vision. That’s what we, as readers, want to see. Branding.

If I’m reading a series, and I’m into it, I will think to myself “I’ll buy the next one!”

Sure, I can search by title. But the most common way of finding the next installment in a series is by the cover. Your eye dances over the screen until it comes to rest on that fifth book in the series you’re after. You glance at the title description quickly to ensure it really is the one, then you buy.

Readers/Customers can’t do that if all your covers look totally different. Again, this is more aimed at series than anything else. Individual titles are fine to have a different style. A different look. But a series title? Nope. Not for me.

Branding. We’ll come back to it in a minute, with some examples from some Indie writers I know.

Before we get to that, though, I want to say something about the bizarre choices being made out there with regards to cover sizes.

This is NOT a book cover. This is something you’d get on the front of a CD.

Cover square


And this one – this one really infuriates me when I see it:

Cover long


No no no. Not landscape. Portrait. Books are presented in portrait. That’s it. Like this. And this ratio of height to width, too. Look up Amazon’s guidelines for covers. It clearly states how large they should be.

cover tall


And before we move on, look at the 3 images above. Notice the text for each is PERFECTLY centered? Yeah, that’s right. It’s because if you’re going to center something, then make sure it’s centered. I see so many covers with wonky titles halfway across them where the author has taken a one-eyed guess at it.

It looks amateur. Stop.

Now that’s out of my system, here’s some covers that are doing it right.

They have the 3 most important attributes:

1. Clear Branding – ie, you can tell they’re part of a series

2. They Look Good As Thumbnails

3. They’re Clean And Tidy – ie, no hard to read fonts all over the place. Uncluttered.

The Lunara Series by Wyatt Davenport

The Superbia Series by Bernard Schaffer

Pandora’s Succession by Russell Brooks

The Lawson Series by Jon F Merz

And a few of my own:

Thus ends my pet peeves concerning Indie titles on Amazon. It does my bloody head in sometimes to see great writers publishing great books that have less than great covers.

My series Far From Home is a bestseller. Not a blockbuster, but a modest bestseller. There are many factors, but a big one is that the covers have the same branding. I had several different ideas for the covers, of where I wanted my author title, where I wanted the fixed series title, and the subtitle that changes with each installment. They follow my own 3 rules. Clear Branding. They Look Good As Thumbnails. They’re Clean And Tidy.

And don’t take my word for it, that my opinion is JUST ONE OPINION. Check out the competition. See what other authors are doing with their series. The ones selling, and reaching readers, are the series who are identifiable by their covers.

When it comes to series, your book really IS judged by its cover.

By the way, I should mention my friend Keri Knutson. She designed the cover for Carnival of Cryptids, a new anthology released by the Kindle All-Stars. She does custom covers for a crazily fair price, and if you head on over to her SITE you’ll see the sort of work she does.

If you’re not of the inclination to do them yourself, she’s well worth getting in contact with.

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