Judging a Book By Its Cover

One of the most important selling features in your e-book has GOT to be the cover.

I know that sounds lame.

I can hear you folks out there shouting out “What about the story?” or “What about promoting?” or “What about getting all of your Facebook buddies to line up in a gigantic daisy chain and poking sheep up each other’s butts?”

Forget about the sheep poke, hombre.

The very first thing that a prospective reader is going to see is that big old cover.

It’s like gift wrap.

You see that one shiny box under the Christmas tree wrapped in a glittering pink wrapping paper rendition of MINIONS VERSUS MUNCHKINS and you just HAVE to reach out and grab it.

All right – so who DOESN’T love Minions???

So, let me take you on a brief pictorial history of the evolution of one particular e-book.

This is the first version of the cover. This was published in hardcover by Five Star Press and the cover was illustrated by the amazingly talented Alan M. Clark.

When I first released GYPSY BLOOD in e-book format through the good folks at Crossroad Press I decided to design my own cover. My wife, Belinda Ferguson helped with the image manipulation and that is actually her hand in the picture – but I have never been truly happy with the way this cover turned out.

Gypsy Blood very small

I know that some indie authors have great luck with making their own covers but the fact is I have very little artistic talent. I believe that if I studied for about ten years and purchased all the latest technical graphic gear I would most likely come up with something that looked a little like a stick man with arthritis.

So I hired a cover artist who used a stock image and came up with THIS cover, which I used for my e-book for a couple of years.

Gypsy Blood Cover 2This was all right – and it did illustrate the opening scene of GYPSY BLOOD but it really didn’t stand out all that much – especially when you looked at it in thumbnail mode – which is where most of your e-book purchases are going to start from – some thumbnail image catching the eye of a prospective customer.

Gypsy Blood Cover 2So, let me show you my brand new GYPSY BLOOD cover.

(insert drum roll here)


Now THAT stands out.

And it looks GREAT in thumbnail.


I have just launched it in Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple I-book and other formats.

So what’s it about?

Gypsies, vampires, Blood-Gods, curses, tattoos, Tarot cards and palm reading and it is ALMOST set in Halifax. This – as one reviewer put it – is a fantasy for those folks who HATE fantasy.

Order on Kobo.

Order on Amazon.com.

Order on Amazon.co.uk

I am currently at work on the Createspace paperback version of this book. I’ll let you know when it is out there.

So – in closing – if you find yourself in a sales slump and you want to goose up the sales figures for an older release – why not change the cover?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

3 responses to “Judging a Book By Its Cover

  1. Steve, I discussed covers with a friend of mine the other day. I created my own cover for “Pope on the Dole” (my photos front and back), and am satisfied with it. However, I plan to self-publish (using CreateSpace) an offbeat detective novel and its sequel simultaneously early next year, and have no clue what should be on the two covers. I am considering hiring someone to do the work, but money is always an issue.

    Except for the cover featuring your wife’s hand, which I do not find appealing, I’m undecided about the covers you show here. I like the skull art, and perhaps a human skull plays a role in, or is somehow symbolic of, the book’s story, but the connection between title and illustration is not clear. I do like the street scene, but it also seems to have no connection with the title, It would work for a gritty crime novel. As for the cover with the blood-splattered man on it, I really like the artistic lettering of the title, and the photo certainly seems to fit the title, but the message it conveys doesn’t really appeal to me. It screams “blood-soaked slasher” to me. If that’s exactly what it is, then I guess the message is correct, and it’s just my personal taste in books that has come into play. But you describe the book as a “fantasy” involving “gypsies, vampires, Blood-Gods, curses, tattoos, Tarot cards and palm reading.” That sounds like a lot of fun to me. If I saw this cover in a bookstore, I would definitely notice it, but I’d also pass it by.

    I do think it’s difficult to come up with a great cover,. I am currently reading “La Reine Margot” (1845) by Alexandre Dumas, and its cover simply borrows the image (sans wording) from the 1994 movie poster. I think it’s perfect for the book. http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NTcwWDM0OA==/z/668AAOSwbqpT7iMG/$_35.JPG

    Steve, I hope you don’t mind my long comment. Obviously, I haven’t read the book, and my opinions are personal and not representative of anyone else’s. I do wish you success. I would be interested in reading the book based on your description of it, but not based on the cover art.


    • Well David – oddly enough the first cover – which was commissioned by the publisher and I did NOT have much say in – is still a favorite of mine and DOES have a lot to do with the story. The tattooed skull plays a large role in the novel.

      So does the bathtub full of blood.

      I hear what you are saying about “blood-soaked slasher” but there is as much horror as dark fantasy in GYPSY BLOOD. It is a real mixed breed of a novel. Most of my books are. I just can’t seem to follow the rules of any one particular genre.

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry I did not get back to you sooner.


  2. Steve, the book sounds quite original. Anything that is offbeat or out of the ordinary appeals to me. If the skull is relevant to the story, then perhaps that would be the cover I’d prefer. It has a certain Vincent Price classic look to it.


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