Adventures in Book Covers

A Guest Post by Laura Stapleton

I didn't want to change. My book covers were fine and already perfect. I'm no slouch in the art department after all. I'd done my research, had a solid color scheme in mind, and the subject matter in the text showed in the cover.

My editor kindly disagreed. She asked for a favor in that I change my contemporary romance from something evocative to something a bit more risqué. She said it was to be an experiment based on the tiny sales I'd had from the first book in the series. She also had my scientific little heart at "experiment."

Fine. In for a penny, might as well spend some pounds for the sales. There'd been a book cover artist whose work I loved over at Cheeky Covers.  Her results are not only professional but also beautiful. She took the stock photography I'd picked and worked her graphic artist magic. What had been solid, businesslike, sweet, and romantic before was now hot and sensual. Of course my choice of sexy is based on what my readers find enticing.  Half naked athletic men fit that criterion perfectly.

It's way too early to tell if a change in covers will result in a change in sales. So why spend the extra time and money for a makeover if not positive of instant results? Several reasons. Sex sells. Everyone knows that and while my prior covers were descriptive and pretty, they didn't hit those pleasure centers in the readers' brains. Nothing pauses the scroll quite as much as sexy. Another reason? I'd done the first covers on a shoestring budget and wanted a solid professional for this series. It was a gamble I could afford to take.  I could keep the color scheme I wanted, keep the spirit of the stories, and make the future books in the series fit in with the prior books.

Will my change result in crazy sales or even ROI (return on investment) sales? If hitting the "Book Covers Must" bullet items is what works, sure! Both covers are clear in a thumbnail size. The images are eye catching and fit the genre, similar but not exact to the bestsellers in their categories. The interior text is solid, quality work. So what's next? Advertising, which is a monster unto itself.

Until my "Changing Covers Results in Crazy Sales" article, here are some tidbits about book covers and their art.

  • Europeans gravitate toward cooler colors, North Americans to the warmer side of the spectrum.
  • As fast as the digital publishing age has sped up book production, so have covers evolved. The stark colors of 50 Shades of Grey, still emulated widely, are almost passé. In another six months? Very dated.
  • Cover art is no longer guaranteed to have a paperback or hard cover's size. Thumbnail sized covers work best if either the title or author's name is legible.
  • Would I have used beefcake for cozy mysteries, science fiction works, or even historical romances? No, and books in those genres don't unless they're veering into the erotic genre as well.

Bottom line is readers judge a book by its cover and what's on the front compels them to read the blurb on the back.  If you're waiting until the first page of text to hook them, you've waited too long.

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With an overactive imagination and a love for writing, Laura Stapleton decided to type out her daydreams and what-ifs in order to share her lovable characters and their worlds with readers. She currently lives in Kansas City with her husband, daughter, dog, and a few cats. When not at the computer, you'll find her in the park for a jog or at the yarn store's clearance section.

Go to for more on reading and writing with zero arithmetic. I promise.


2 Responses

  1. Funny! I had beautiful intricate covers featuring lovely ladies, I paid a chunk for them. No sales. One even was nominated for Rone Award… I redid them, on my own…and they sold. Not fantastically, but better. And I put guys without shirts on them.

    Now, I’m being told I need to change them. Nope. I’ll pretty them up, tighten the focus, redo the tint, etc.

    Good luck on your experiment.

    • Thank you! I NEED the luck. The Very Best Man has sold maybe 70 copies, The Very Worst, 5.

      Do you know what’s insane to me? My Oregon Trail Series has sold and been downloaded in the 13,000 range as of today. I should use those covers for my Men series, right? Ha! I painted my covers for the Oregon Trail Series myself. Sadly, I’m no good at painting male torsos or I’d be slapping down the peach acrylic on the canvases.

      Thank you for your comment!! Nathan’s blog is amazing and you’ll be glad you’re here, I know.

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