The Power of First Impressions: How Your Book Cover Can Make or Break Your Sales

How to design a book cover for indie authors


This blog post is by Katia from—if any Darling Axe clients ask for help with their book cover, this is where we refer them.

You are here because you believe in your book and want more readers to enjoy your creation. You can do a few things to boost your book sales besides tight storytelling and world-building. And book cover design is one of them.

An unforgettable first impression

We’ve all heard the popular expression “don’t judge a book by its cover." Oddly enough, that idiom applies to pretty much anything except books. Every single one of your current and potential readers judges the books they encounter based on cover art. There’s no way around it. 

First impressions matter.

For example, consider this redesign:

Novel book cover redesign

A book cover design by MiblArt (on the right)  

The book cover on the left has a few features preventing a strong first impression: the series name is given prominence over the actual title, the font choice and word placement conveys a do-it-yourself vibe, and the image isn't as crisp as it could be. The redesign on the right doesn't scream "self-pub" in the slightest—it could easily have come from a noteworthy imprint. A quality cover like this gives potential readers the impression of a professional production, which in turn suggests the writing and story itself are top notch.

A professional book cover can transform your writing career 

Elliott Scott, a cyberpunk and science fiction writer, has seen firsthand the power of redesign. He said that a new book cover saved his series, Spectrum Lathe. Although people who have read his books like the story, the author could not attract new readers. The reason was subpar book covers that did not resonate with his target audience. 

After the book cover redesign, Elliott Scott began to feel more confident about promoting his books. They looked professional and attracted the readers’ attention. His stories also soared up the charts on Amazon. 

  • Elliott Scott hit #1 in three categories on the Kindle Store: Cyberpunk Science Fiction, Humorous Science Fiction, and Crime & Mystery Science Fiction.
  • The author hit the front page of Reddit’s r/scifi with a post that got 80,000 views.
  • He landed many new 4-5 star reviews.
  • People are now reading his fiction every day on Kindle Unlimited.

 Take at look at Scott's before and after:

 How to redo a book cover in style

A series book cover redesign by MiblArt  

How can you be sure that your book cover is making the best first impression? 

If you are wondering whether your books can do much better with a new cover, here are the questions you should answer.

1. Does my book cover meet the genre's expectations? 

It appears simple on the surface: genres are marketed with particular characteristics. Anyone who has spent time staring at book covers can guess the genre of most novels at a glance. If your book cover strays to far from these conventions, many a reader's eye may dismiss a title out of hand if the cover art isn't what they are expecting. 

A professional book cover design will ensure that your cover represents the genre well enough, avoiding clichés while also sharpening the visual hook. 

 Book cover redesign project

A book cover design by MiblArt (on the right) 

2. Does my book cover evoke the right emotions? 

While the image chosen for a book cover will carry its own connotations, a more significant factor in instilling a particular emotional in potential readers comes down to colour choice. 

The idea is simple: different colours and colour combinations evoke different emotions. In large part, we have been conditioned to these associations after years of media exposure. The psychology behind colour choice is extremely important for book cover design, and professionals know how to pull together the right colors for your book cover art. Moreover, there’s a whole set of rules behind shades, tints, glows, and contrasts that designers study and apply to your advantage. 

Remember: colour is an essential design element that you should choose carefully.  

Take a look how changes in colour palette affect the overall design:

 Seek professional help for a book cover design or redesign

A book cover design by MiblArt (on the right) 

3. Does my book cover convey brand identity? 

Never forget one simple thing: your book cover design is the basis of your author brand. This is even more critical for authors of series. You want your book cover design elements to have something in common so that the readers will immediately recognize your style and thus brand. 

Here are a few tips to take into consideration: 

  • You should stick to the same font, but it's okay to either change the color palette or vary the images. It’s a good idea to highlight the series title, book title, or author’s name depending on what you choose as your primary branding element.
  • You might want to concentrate on your colours as a distinguishing feature of the book series. The same background color can be used to emphasize the connection between the books in the series. This gives you more freedom to vary the image itself.
  • Or, you can use a completely different color palette for each cover, while maintaining consistency with the same drawing style and/or imagery. 

Take a look at how this book cover redesign combines typography, colour, and the protagonist's image in its overall branding:

 Professional book cover design can help you visually link your series

A book cover design series by MiblArt 

The benefits of a professional book cover design 

Even if you have design knowledge and background, it takes a lot of time and effort to polish your skills to get a great final version of a book cover.  

Design aside, you might get sucked down a rabbit hole when it comes to formatting, calculating dimensions, or figuring out front and back cover margins. Wait, it gets better. Every publishing platform also has different requirements. If you miss one of them, the book will get rejected, and you’ll need to figure out what went wrong. 

With professional design services, all those small details are covered. Designers deal with these things every day. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the results. Think of it as a small investment in your book’s success and your career as an indie or self-published author. 

Swing by MiblArt for more information!

Katia at MiblArt—book cover design and redesign for indie and self-publishing writers and authors

Katia is an account manager at MiblArt, a leading book cover design company based in Ukraine. Since 2015, MiblArt has been providing exceptional design services to self-publishing authors and publishers, including book cover designs, logo designs, marketing images designs, and interior formatting services. With a mission to transform book covers into the ultimate marketing tool, MiblArt has become a popular choice among authors and publishers alike, thanks to its highly flexible and risk-free process conditions. These include unlimited revisions, a refund policy, a dedicated support team, and even no deposit for photomanipulated covers.

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