There’s a lot of research evidence out there to support the notion that more than 75% of book sales are earned by the quality of their covers. It’s easy to understand that a strong title and graphics will grab a buyer’s attention – and in a marketplace with more than a zillion titles floating around, an author needs all the edge he or she can get.


Let’s face it, there are some real turkeys out there and no matter what lies between the covers it’s unlikely these books will ever get more than the briefest of glances before a potential reader’s eye roams quickly to the next in line.


So how do authors give themselves a fighting chance of getting noticed? It’s simple – get a cover that makes people pause when they scan the bookshelves or run through the endless pages of listings on the Amazon website. SEE MORE AT:

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Thanks, I.J. And yes, it is massively violent, but in a fun, darkly humorous way as an easy-going, suitcase-stealing dwarf gets double-crossed in the underbelly of a Greyhound bus.

These are well done.  I like the way the first one immediately implies narrative, and the second one connects with place.  Very nice.

Beautifully done, great fonts.

Very strong cover but it looks taken from an Eastwood picture "The Gauntlet." But it also makes you want to see how this one goes.

Thanks, IJ. Glad you came back and said so.

And Grant, your publisher could be on to something. It looks GREAT, plus that Golden Gate Bridge has been the backdrop for so many classic mysteries over the years, San Francisco is like a sub-genre of its own.

Wow--that's a sub-category?  Screwball mystery?  That's too awesome for words.  Who says you can't learn anything on crimespace.  I like the cover, Jack--and I love it that the murder weapon is a fish.  Bravo.   

For the folks who came up with that 75%, how did they possibly? Did they survey every reader on the planet? I doubt it. I don't put stock into that. I just can't because covers are subjective. People might claim they go by covers but does that mean the covers they liked were GOOD? Not necessarily. Just like the covers they might not like might have not been bad. If some readers dislike or like a cover it doesn't mean the cover is bad or good. See what I mean? It all comes down to opinion. If you find enough people and sit them down in front of ONE book cover I bet you will get a ton of different opinions. You will get some that like it and some that don't. It's all about taste and opinion, not necessarily bad or good in my opinion.

I believe some readers might care about the covers but a lot don't. People are different so it's about the individual. I myself like a nice cover but it doesn't matter to me as much as a sample of the book. I buy on samples. I don't care about reviews at all and like I said a cover might catch my eye but that does not mean I will read the book. Also a bad cover doesn't mean I won't read it. I check out the synopsis to see what the book is about and from there I bolt to the free sample and that's when I make my decision.

Also uh, there is a VERY popular self-published book right now that's done extremely well and the cover is hideous to me. And no I don't mean Shades of Grey or anything. I won't name the book on the board out of respect for the writer but a lot of people have said they hate the cover yet this book has made it onto the NYT lists and is being made into a movie. It's done very, very, well.

My point is, I just don't think covers really make and break a book. Maybe it depends on the genre. Romance readers seem to be harder on covers than other readers.

But the writing and storytelling is what makes or breaks your book.

So with that I think it's hard to say whether covers really matter because if you look at bestselling books you will find many who might like the cover and many who hate it.

But it didn't deter millions from reading the book.

Best Wishes!

Stacy, I agree that this 75% figure is highly dubious. If publishers had that kind of data, we would all know the names of the best graphic artists and they would be rich. I would love to see the references to support this.

I have seen very little serious research on why people buy the books they buy. Our personal views are of no use in this matter--to sell books, we need to know what will appeal to a wide audience.

To carry this a little farther, authors are finally in a position  to connect promotional activity and perhaps even cover design to sales by using the  information in Amazons Author Central. Not perfect, but better than an annual royalty statement. Where are the marketing students writing their research papers??

This is my new one, since we're posting.  That tower thing in the background is Provincetown's iconic Pilgrim Monument--anyone who's been there would recognize it, probably.  The book has a lot of fires in it, hence the lurid sky.  Also, the final version says "A Frank Coffin Mystery," and has a quote from a reviewer at the top comparing me to Robert B Parker.  Heh.

Jon -- Did you or anyone discuss or ask about a comic element being missing?

I really like the lurid sky - definitely says fire.

Yeah, but now I want UFOs...


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