What your cover says about your book


1106 Design

June 08, 2014

Jackie Townsend - Imperfect PairingThis is the first of a three-part series of blog posts that will show covers before and after a transformation by 1106 Design. In these posts we’ll explain what was missing in the original, and how the message of the “after” cover helps to sell the book.

We are dedicating three blog posts to book covers because they are SO important to your success. Buyers judge a book by its cover – in about three seconds! If your book looks amateurish, buyers will decide that your book is not a good read, and they won’t buy it. Make sure your book cover stands up to the test.

So where do you begin? What should your book cover look like?

First, answer two important questions:

  • What are you selling?
  • Who are you selling to?

The covers for fiction books should hint at the story – what you are selling – but only hint at it. You want the title to be prominent, along with an image that intrigues the buyer enough to read the cover flap or back cover text.

Nonfiction books sell information and so you want to tell the buyer as much as possible about what’s in the book. The book title, cover text, and graphics should all work together to show the buyer what is in the book and to move them towards the buying decision.

Here’s a before-and-after example of a cover that did not answer the questions “what is this book about” and “who is it for.”


Better Movement-B4-1The cover of this book, A Guide to Better Movement, is typical of “template” design either from a software program or “premade cover sites.” Someone picked up an existing cover and replaced the title and perhaps the image, but didn’t put much thought into the purpose of the book and how the text, the image, and the font styles support the book’s message. The main message of the cover as it is now is, “A GUIDE,” but that doesn’t reflect what the buyer is going to get—a guide about what? While this book cover does include a subtitle, it’s lost under the main title and is not very informative. In addition, the buyer may have a difficult time connecting with the runner used in the graphic.




BetterMovement-8-AfterThe words “A Guide to” were made smaller. The important message is “Better Movement,” so now the reader knows that they are going to get a book about moving, which is also supported by the image of a person running. The image reflects the freedom and joy we experience while running on a beach. The subtitle now provides more information about what the book is about and highlights some salient details through the use of bold and larger fonts.

In this redesigned cover, text and images work together as a unified strategy. It’s not one or the other. They need to support each other to give a message to the buyer about what the book is about.



Stay tuned for our next blog showing another BEFORE and AFTER book cover analysis.

Cover Samples: We have updated our book cover samples with new covers that were designed in the last year. Click here to take a look!

Watch the webinar: The “before and after” covers shown in this blog series are taken from the webinar Anatomy of a Book Cover with Michele DeFilippo and Brian Jud. You can view the full webinar here.

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