5 Tips for a Successful Cover Reveal

Now, I know I’m not necessarily an expert on all things internet, but I spend a lot of time looking at the various cover reveals in the creation of my Cover Snark feature. A whole lot of time. I’ve noticed some things that might be of help to publishers or authors about the best ways to release a cover. Do with my advice what you will.

1. Make Use of a Test Audience
So many covers are just laughably bad. At least once a day, I click on a cover reveal and snort. This really should not happen so often. I know making covers is hard, but there are a lot of mistakes that seem really easy to avoid. By showing your cover to an unbiased test audience, you can avoid the obvious errors, removing bad font or inadvertently dirty poses. If your cover is bad, it WILL affect sales. Do not doubt that.

Even large publishers could benefit from this, especially with redesigns. Releasing a cover and then having to redesign before publication because of the poor reception looks unprofessional. Also, based on the outcry against all of the publisher redesigns mid-series, you should get feedback before doing so; make sure the new cover really IS better than the old one.

A lot of the really terrible covers out there would be caught by asking pretty much anyone for feedback. The key is to find someone who will be honest with you, and not lie to spare your feelings. I would recommend not asking a friend, family member, or someone who works with you on designs.

You do not want this to be the reaction to your cover reveal.
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2. Give the Author Input
Authors put a lot of work into a book, and I feel really bad for them when their publishing houses do a terrible job marketing their books, either by giving them an ugly cover or by making unfair comparisons in the book’s blurb. In most cases, authors have no say whatsoever into their covers, even though those probably have a huge impact on whether someone buys their book or not. In fact, some covers are so ugly that readers will decide not to purchase the book even if they love it. Publishers, I implore you, please give the author at least a bit of veto power if the cover is truly awful or is a misrepresentation of the content. If the author sees the cover and breaks into tears, please give them another option.

I presume this is how the author copes.

3. Release a Large Image of the Cover
The point of a cover is to be seen. A lot of work goes into them and a lot of detail, so why release your cover in a tiny size? What is that accomplishing? Let us revel in the glory of your cover, not hurt our eyes and develop premature wrinkles squinting at our monitors trying to figure out what’s happening in the cover.

4. Control Your Cover Reveal
I get why people use Entertainment Weekly for high profile cover reveals. I really do. However, you might want to think about that.A lot of the larger sites like EW work really hard to keep the cover reveal exclusive, which I get but does not really go along with the spirit of the blogosphere. They often make it so that the image cannot be downloaded or linked to in full size, which is really annoying and will slow promotion of the book.

USA Today makes it so you can only dl or copy a partial image.

Also, EW sometimes does things like this:

Oh look, apparently EW owns this book.
Just make sure you know the terms of getting your cover revealed on these sites. Never ever let them put their watermark on YOUR cover.

5. Make Sure Your Book Is on Goodreads and Online Bookstores
I cannot stress this enough: the point of making a big deal about the cover is to get people interested in your book. Most people do not have photographic memories, so, when they see a cover and blurb they like, they want to add the book to Goodreads or go ahead and preorder. If they can’t do that, odds are they will forget about your book, and you DO NOT WANT THEM TO. Before revealing the cover, get your book onto Goodreads and at least one of the book retailers. Also, make sure you have those links easily available in the cover reveal post.

If you think we’ll remember your book.
Alright, I’m climbing down off my soapbox now. Best of luck with your cover reveal endeavors!

14 responses to “5 Tips for a Successful Cover Reveal”

  1. I fear with #2 that authors would be frightened to say what exactly they think of a cover. Just as they have put hard work into writing the book, someone may have put hard work into creating that cover, even if we find the cover not to be suited to our liking. Everything else I definitely agree with. I found Julie Kagawa’s post on why the covers for the Immortal Rules series had changed extremely fascinating, particularly because she said that they had used a test audience.

    • Christina says:

      They might be, but, if they do, they’ll not have anyone to blame but themselves on a lot of levels. A lot of authors get no say so and are stuck with horrific covers that market their books in the worst possible way.

      The Immortal Rules series was interesting, I agree. The new covers are boring, but are, I think, an improvement on the first. I would love to see the other options that were on the table.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. I know that we aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but we all do. I also think it’s baffling that you wouldn’t put your book on Goodreads first. What’s the point of showing off your fabulous new cover (and it should be fabulous) if no one can do anything about it. Generally cover reveals happen well before release date and I guarantee you, my memory sucks. Also I think redesigns of series books should be heavily scrutinized before being done, because 99% of people like their covers to match. I think the original cover has to be really, really ugly before change is considered.

    • Christina says:

      Yup. I judge the heck out of those covers. Yeah, that one really blows my mind. If you write a self-pub, you have a lot of marketing to do, and you want your book not to get lost in the pack. You can have the best self pub cover ever, but if people can’t place the book on a list somewhere online, they’re probably going to forget they want to read it.

      Cover changes should be done only in cases of great need, like repackaging older series.

  3. Audra says:

    Awesome post — and I couldn’t agree more! Although cover design is a fickle and odd art; I heard from someone who’d worked at the publisher of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, that when the switched from the (I think) superior artsy covers to the (I think) horrifying grocery store style covers, their sales boomed. So obviously the second cover resonated for many many people who weren’t me!

    • Christina says:

      Oh really? Wow. That second cover. I love the big pink dress! I am with you on that, Audra! Of course, people love romance covers, but there are some covers EVERYONE can agree are awful, and those shouldn’t be getting out the door!

  4. Kat Balcombe says:

    Fantastic post! Obviously authors signed with publishers don’t get much say in how some covers are designed, but for indie authors they have full control, and should use it!

    One of my favourite indie authors uses a Goodreads group for feedback before he decides on covers – and people are exceedingly honest with what does and doesn’t work and why. Sure, he has the final say but by getting that input he also makes potential readers feel like they have contributed.

    Number 5 is the one that irritates me – I want to SEE stuff, not that horrible generic ‘no cover’ image on GR. I’ll remember a cool cover, but not a title – visual creatures ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I know indie authors are a different subject altogether, but I don’t really have enough advice to make two lists. Haha!

      Oh that’s cool! I’m glad some people use that.

      Exactly. It needs to be on GR, because I probably won’t remember to look for it later.

  5. This is a great post with a lot of fantastic and useful advice. And Sheldon at the end! Sheldon wins. Everything. ๐Ÿ˜›

    The old saying is “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but we all know that we really do. I’ve passed up many books because of covers. I’ve forced myself to read books thinking they were going to be awful because of bad covers, and then was pleasantly surprised by the interior. o.O Lol.

    Personally, I’m not always a fan of redesigning covers unless there’s really an improvement or reason. I’m just OCD and like my matching covers. But it happens and sometimes I understand. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great discussion post!

    <3
    Pixie

    • Christina says:

      Bazinga!

      Oh man, I’ve loved some books with terrible covers and I’m always surprised, even though I really ought to know better by now. We like shiny, pretty things. We are like nifflers, so market accordingly!

      I’m not that bothered by my covers not matching, but I would like for there to be one complete set.

  6. Okay, #3 is so annoying! When I do the cover round-up post every Sunday and there is that one cover that is only 175 pixels big when the rest are high-res, guess what? Chances are I might not even put it up! I’d probably just post it on the FB page and call it a day because it throws the entire post off. I figure, if the pub and author didn’t really care about it being seen, then why should I?

    #4, YES, YES, YES! I mean, the EW reveals and trailer reveals are so annoying. The watermark thing seems to be more recent and new. But with the trailers, you can’t even embed it from EW. UGH. Isn’t the point to share?

    #5, This x1000. Though, I will add books on GR when I run across a cover reveal and the book is not there. But not everyone is a GR librarian (even though anyone and their goldfish can become one). It just makes it so much easier to spread the word about the book

    • Christina says:

      Right? I’m glad you understand my pain. It probably doesn’t matter to most viewers, but if you’re trying to spread knowledge of the new books, it’s a bitch.

      The point totally SHOULD be to share.

      Ah, I am not a GR librarian, so I leave it. I’m sure I could become one, but I am so lazy. I wish I could add covers, though.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Hi!

    Wow, I thought I was the only one who thought that way. Excellent post!

    I have a question, can you do a post of books with ugly covers but have good synopsis?

    • Christina says:

      Well, I probably could do that if I wanted to, but I really am not a person who does much synopsis reading, so I would not be ideal to make that particular post. It would take a lot of time, since it’s not something I generally think about. I’d rather spend that time reading or working on other posts closer to my heart.

      You could, though!

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