The following mistakes could ruin your book sales. They are easy to avoid, once you know what to look for. Make sure your book cover is not killing your marketing.

Reminder from the last episode, or if you haven’t caught it yet …

  • Your book cover is the most important element of your book marketing.
  • A bad book cover can ruin all your other marketing efforts.
  • This is not where you want to be on a budget or make mistakes.

Mistake #1 Designing It Yourself

  • Design is something people study in college.
  • It is not something you can learn in a weekend or a week
  • Jim’s story of “becoming a graphic designer”
  • The more control you have over the design, the worse the design will likely be.
  • Most of us would not, or should not tell an electrician how to wire our home. Same thing here.

Mistake #2 Including the word “by”

  • Not done on book covers.
  • Use typography to designate the author.

Mistake #3 Saying both award-winning AND bestselling.

  • Pick one.
  • Bestselling is usually better depending on level of best seller status.
  • If an award is not WIDELY known, it won’t have much impact on the reader
  • Exceptions:
    • Nobel Prize
    • Pulitzer Prize

Mistake #4 Forgetting to add shelving instructions above the ISBN bar code.

  • We mentioned this last time, but worth mentioning again …
  • Self Published Author Often Forget this
  • This is the category of your book.

Mistake #5 Imagery is too “on the nose”

  • The cover should not tell the story of your book. It should tease it.
  • Hansel and Gretel didn’t leave all the breadcrumbs in a pile, they dolled them out slowly
  • Use the word “apple” or show an apple. Don’t do both.

Mistake #6 Too many design elements.

  • Too Complex.
  • Marketing 101 says the Indian Mystic Men should lay on one nail.
  • Rule of thumb: The simpler the cover design, the more confident the publisher is about the writing.  

Mistake #7 Too Clever

  • If I can’t figure your book cover out immediately, you’ve lost my attention.
  • Remember the one-inch rule

Mistake #8 Poor typography

  • Script Fonts
  • Poor font choice
  • Too many fonts
  • No visual hierarchy
  • Low contrast
  • Darci last night … she knew immediately …

Mistake #9 Overuse of stock photos

  • Traditionally published books are moving away from stock photos.
  • The trend is toward typographical covers, especially innon-fictionn.
  • What happens when all the designers are going to the same stock photo house
  • Do reverse image search on Google to see if your image has been used

Mistake #10 Design by Committee.

  • A good cover needs some people to hate it to work.
  • We did an entire episode on this. You can listen to it at
  • One dollar coin- disaster, designed by committee

Mistake #11 Using Your Own Artwork

  • You don’t have good perspective on your own art.
  • You are not as good as you think you are.
  • This applies to photos you have taken as well.
  • Weathertop Statues
  • Jim’s story of his photo ending up on the cover of his novel ROOMS



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