IWSG 101: More Than a Cover Art


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Jacqui Murray | Ronel Janse van Vuuren | Pat Garcia | Gwen Gardner


If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you’ve been traditionally published, how much input did you have on the cover art?


Fishing for Readers (aka marketing)

A good cover has only one job. It hooks the eye. I know—ouch. But that’s its job. As your possible reader peruses the thousands of book covers available, what makes them stop and take a harder look at yours?

Cover art has marketing elements designed to invite your reader to click the thumbnail or pick it up and read the back. Book blurbs sink the hook and get the reader to read the first line. Which leads to the first paragraph. To the first page.


And the hooks just keep on hooking.

What I’ve done

I was too cheap to spend money on an editor or cover artist, so I followed the road to small indie publishers. Most of you know how that ended so I won’t go on about it.

I also tried my hand at cover art, but that’s later in the post.

What I learned

The cover can be more than a book cover. Once designed and before the book release, it can build anticipation. Some authors and their marketers throw a Cover Reveal Blog Hop. Here the readers can win swag and possibly an ARC—Advanced Reader Copy.

This can rally early reviews which always help. The more reviews the more success in sales.

Once out, the author can use the image for social media headers, banners, and avatars.

Beautiful as they are, Book Covers and Cover Art are Marketing Tools. Nothing More.

Merging the Elements

When I first posted on WattPad, I put together some cover art for my submissions. I started with watching some of Derek Murphy YouTube Posts—found in the links below.

I created the covers for Witchery, Mexmur: the huntress, Dragon Eye, and Minor Error. Here I invested nothing but time and a few dollars in simple images. Although I think the covers look pretty good, I’m not a master.

When doing this for an actual book, do a mockup and get feedback. Polish it. Just as you would in your written work.

Or better yet…

Many successful self-published works are professionally edited, within the cover and without. Typesetting to book blurbs. And the professional cover design is just one of many elements the marketing plan includes.

Because the publisher understands, we get one chance with a new reader.

Paying someone who actually knows how to put the marketing elements together seems the wise choice to me. Publishers—indie or self—must meet the high quality their readers expect if they want set the hook.

Make the sale and return on their investment.


What do you look for when searching for your next read?

Gleaned from:



58 responses to “IWSG 101: More Than a Cover Art

  1. I would have to go the route of hiring a professional to design my cover. You’re right that the cover image can get used in other ways , and it’s important to get the cover right.

  2. Cover then blurb then first line and chapter – it all has to hook and it all has to be done professionally.

  3. The book cover plays a part for me but only a part. It’s more about what’s inside that counts for me. 🙂

  4. In this case ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ doesn’t apply. The book cover advertises the book’s genre and hooks a reader in. Done right, like you said, it’ll pique a reader’s interest to read the blurb, then the first line and chapter. Then purchase.

    • Bringing in new readers. I hope. 🙂

    • I agree. And this is probably unfair of me, but I think the quality of the cover design says something about the professionalism of the author and how much they were willing to invest in their work. Again, that’s probably unfair, because it has more to do with an investment of money than effort, but I’m turned off by amateurish covers (yours are great btw), and too often the content of the book is also amateurish.

      • I hate to say this, but I agree. Books achieve their rating from how they sell. Not delivering an excellent product means the purchaser with pass on it; or if they take a chance, never buy from the writer again after their disappointment.

  5. The cover definitely is the first thing I notice. But I do often look for familiar authors, ones I know will take me to that special place. I also read the first paragraph. If I’m not hooked fast, I keep walking. I also wonder if I’m fussier than most because I am a writer. Maybe.

  6. I’ve picked up a few books from the library based on the covers. It definitely works as a marketing tool!

  7. Stinting on the cover isn’t a good idea. I agree with you.

  8. I’ve done my own covers and hired cover designers for my books. It all depends on what I want the cover to look like and if I can find the right image and have the right skills.

  9. Thoughtful, personal response. Thanks for sharing.

  10. “We get one chance with a new reader.”

    That is exactly right. And it’s worth remembering that on Amazon, Goodreads, and most other websites that sell or review books, your cover is going to be shrunk down to thumbnail size. So make sure it still looks good when it’s tiny.

  11. The book cover is the first impression and it can make or break a sale (for some). I’ve bought books based on the cover alone. On the flip, I’ve passed on books with covers that didn’t appeal to me.
    Personally, I’ve hired out for my covers because I didn’t think I had the skill set. I’ve been working on it over the years and think I’m almost ready to tackle my own.

  12. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Fun question, Anna. I never have to worry about my next read. I always have a pile of books ready to go. What do I look for? Sometimes it’s subject matter, like this past year when I became really interested in philosophy, and I am always checking the cosmology and physics sections in the bookstore. Other times it’s the author or the book title that hooks my eye. Sometimes it is the cover. I have several books to read in Hawaii. One I found in an airport bookstore, another left behind after a flight left, a third on the laundry room of the condo where we’re staying, and the fourth Terry spotted in the laundry room a few days later ~ He has a pretty good idea of what I like. However I choose one, I always have something lined up to read. Take care!

  13. I like your covers!
    Designing covers takes time and talent – I don’t have enough of either 🙂

  14. A book cover has often caught my eye, and then it’s the job of the blurb and excerpts to make me move from looking at it to buying it. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

  15. Two things I would never skimp on: professional editing and cover art. I’m a good editor . . . for other people’s work. My own? Not so much. LOL You’re right about the cover hooking the reader. For myself, that’s true. I want/need something to stop my scroll. Usually, it’s the cover. Best wishes for a great month.

  16. I love your tips and examples! I appreciate you sharing your journey through it all 🙂

  17. Glad I popped by today. Much to learn here. I like your covers and thanks for sharing with us. Indie publishing is not for the faint hearted!

  18. When I’m contemplating reading a new book, I don’t pay attention to its cover. I read the blurb and then read reviews on GoodReads. I want to know what the book is about and what the other readers think of it. Spoilers are not a problem for me. I love spoilers. Book cover is just an icing on the cake. When a good cover is paired with a good book, that’s a huge bonus.

  19. I do hire the pros for my covers, and have since I started. :). As for what I look for as a reader? I want something that grabs my attention, is clearly a genre I enjoy, and makes me want to flip the book over to read the back copy.

  20. Hi, Anna! While I agree that hiring professionals is a wise ROI, I’m impressed by your efforts on your own covers!

  21. You are so right that a cover is just another marketing tool. Might sound harsh, but it’s true.
    To answer your question, what I look for in a new read is almost entirely the tropes or plot. This may be a romance reader thing, but when I’m in the mood for one specific trope, that’s what I go hunting for. If the blurb is too vague and doesn’t promise to deliver that plot I’m wanting, I will move right along and find one that does.

  22. For me, a good cover has a great look and a great title! Everything has to be working together. Well done, Anna. Your covers are wonderful.

  23. This is a great post – and finding a small publisher to avoid the cost of making covers is genius. I have recently done the same thing, although I have dabbled in making my own covers before. They sucked, so I hire someone now lol

    • Thanks. Is genius another word for cheap as dirt. hehehe

      Cuz, that was my motivation. I also figured that if more than one person–editor, cover artist, marketer, etc.–were behind my work, I might not suck. 🙂

  24. Book covers are certainly one of the main things that can attract me to a book first, particularly when I’m browsing in a book shop. They have to stand out for me, but what I like may well be different to what someone else likes.
    I will definitely need to get help when I’m ready to get my own sorted out.

  25. I admit cover has to catch my eye and draw me to it. Then the blurb is what sells generally.

  26. Book covers get me to pick up the book, the blurb or a few pages decides me on purchasing. 🙂

  27. Honestly, my tbr is so long that right now I am not searching for anything! I don’t have a preference as such, it’s mostly the blurb that pulls me in. But I can say I’m always ready for lit fic.

  28. The phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ no longer matters. Most readers are drawn to compelling covers and the blurb. If my favourite author has released a new book, I’ll buy it regardless, otherwise I read the blurb and read the first few lines of the book to make a decision. As to my own books, I hire a professional book cover designer.
    (Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party!)

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