The Book Cover Makeover: Sell More Books with These Changes

by Kellyann Zuzulo
You can't judge a book by its cover. But you can decide whether or not you're going to read a book by looking at its cover. And readers do judge, especially in romance. There are certain elements that lend an appealing aesthetic to book covers. Some of that is based on muscle and glamour (burly guys and clear-eyed women), but most of it is practical. Font and layout choices are key in a love-at-first-sight cover.

As an example, here are two book covers for the same book. Which do you prefer?

The Genie Ignites is my paranormal romance that was released on March 1st of this year. My publisher, Boroughs Publishing Group, is amazing and has been involved and proactive about editorial interaction, blog tours, and sales promotion. I had input on the cover that was first released but, ultimately, as any author will tell you, the choice remains with the publisher. For several reasons, they released the book with what were too many elements. We wanted to convey location, a sense of mysticism, an atmosphere of distance and connection. It was too much. Here are some pointers to help you capture the cover.
  1. Trust the book buyer. Don't put too much on the cover. This is your snapshot to appeal to the reader. If you do it right, they'll read the synopsis, maybe an excerpt, and potentially buy the book. Don't junk up the cover with details.
  2. Keep the font clean. Pick a clear, bold font and never italicize it. Make sure the font color contrasts with the image behind it.
  3. Limit the images. One primary visual is ideal. 
  4. Block the layout. A book cover is, by nature, a visual message. Make your photo or illustration the focus of the cover. Set the title and byline in a block layout either at the top or at the bottom as you see in the AFTER photo.
  5. Study NYT Bestselling book covers. Go to any bricks-and-mortar or online bookstore and check out the top-selling covers. You'll see a similar layout to what this makeover became. Bold lettering and one image. Unless the author is well known by name alone, the title should be a bit bigger than the byline.
With these changes, you may just sell some more books.
Best Wishes, 
Kellyann Zuzulo
What Would You Wish For?


  1. What an excellent post!! Very concise and helpful. Many thanks. And my goodness, it's surprising what a difference those simple changes made to the cover.

  2. Thanks, JoAnne! And these are changes that can be applied to any cover. I'm so glad you found it helpful.

  3. When I first saw the image of the first cover I was wondering why that ladies head was positioned in such a curious position lol

  4. That was part of the problem, Murissa... the disembodied head. And that's not even why this book is a paranormal. She does have a body. :D (And the genie loves it. ;)


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