What Does Your Book Cover Say?

Stepping to the stage is: Leona Romich

Let’s talk book covers! The first thing a potential reader notices about a book is the cover. Makes sense; it is the very first thing that catches a potential reader’s eye. There used to be a time when the problem with some book covers was the half dressed women on the covers. The majority of readers are women. To carry around a book (when ereaders were not around) like that was…well, embarrassing.

Fast forward a few years and now with the trend of ereading, it seems that a lot of these book covers have gone from half dressed women to downright pornographic. Yes…I said it…PORNOGRAPHIC! Asses in the air, asses in a chair, asses everywhere! Yes, sex sells. But damn all that! Some of us have kids and some of us actually still read physical books and not just eBooks.

As if nakedness wasn’t the only problem, a lot of covers are starting to look too similar. Think about this, most of the book covers in urban-lit have the exact same things on the covers: money, drugs, guns, bullets and blood. Cars and crime scene tape are quickly gaining ground. Let’s be original, people. Here’s a suggestion: take a scene from the book and make that the cover.

Authors, if you insist on putting people on the cover, PLEASE let the character description in the book match that of the person on the cover. If a character has long hair flowing down her back, a short haircut or curly hair, let the model on the cover reflect that.

Then there are covers that just have too much going on and make no sense at all. Covers like that are a hot ass mess! Making it a bigger and hotter mess, there are those who use several different fonts. Stick to one font and make sure it is visible enough where the reader is clear on what the title says. Some are so blurred by the background, so small or illegible that readers have to squint or move the book around to make out the title. Or the number of different fonts distract from the title and cover. There is no need to put so much on a cover. Sometimes simple is better. A true author should let their creativity flow with not only the content of the book but the outside with the cover as well. Make it simple and straight to the point. Make sure it makes sense and corresponds with what the story is about.

There are yet other covers that look like someone took a picture with their personal camera or cell phone, blurred and all, and just threw it on the front of a book. Really? Shouldn’t you invest in your cover just a little more than just to throw some random BS on the cover?

Those who think it is creative to intentionally spell words in a title incorrectly…IT IS NOT CREATIVE AT ALL! It makes it look like you do not know how to spell. It is getting to the point where this seems to be the new “thing” to do. I have to shake my head. In all honesty, if I see a title that is spelled incorrectly, it makes me think the book will be unedited and riddled with errors as well.

Naked women, crazy fonts, models who don’t match the character descriptions, blurred photos, too much going on and misspelled titles. Oh, and let’s not forget to include the covers that are trifling or just downright disgusting. ENOUGH with covers with the likes of a woman sitting on the toilet smoking a cigarette or a dog and blood splattered everywhere. ENOUGH with the word “b*tch” in titles. It is played out and degrading to women! ENOUGH with plastering the words “bestselling author” on covers without actually having made a reputable bestseller’s list. How can anyone claim to be a bestselling author with the first run of their very first book!? What magazine or newspaper stated you were a bestselling author? Who said you were the king or queen of urban-lit? Where are the receipts to support that? Or for that matter, who deemed your book a “classic”? How many years have passed with your book title still being discussed as if it were released yesterday? Have readers all over the world read your titles? Is it required reading in schools across the country? Is your name spoken in the same sentence with Shakespeare, Dickens and the like? No? Be realistic and keep it honest. No need to lie or make up something because YOU think it will sell your book faster.

On the flip side, the back of a book is just as important as the front. A book’s synopsis should be edited just like the story itself. If your synopsis is riddled with errors, make no mistake, potential readers will be turned off. If the synopsis is unedited, chances are great the entire book was not unedited.

Authors, publishers, invest in yourself! I cannot say this enough. INVEST IN YOURSELF! The cover may just be the outside of the book, but trust and believe the cover is what catches the reader’s eye first and foremost. If the cover is appealing, then the synopsis is next. If you do not have those two on lock, your book will be easily overlooked.

Before you put a cover on your book, ask yourself: what can I do to make my book cover unique and stand out from the rest? Does it represent what my story is about? If cover models are used, do they correspond with the characters in the book? Is the cover or title one that I can be proud of in the years to come? Ultimately, as Jodi Picoult said, covers and “stories outlive their writers all the time.”

Leona Romich is an Ohio native. She is an avid reader. Reading has always been a passion of hers, a means of escape to another time and place with the characters she reads about. Leona is an independent book reviewer but also reviews for OOSA, APOOO Book Club, Strebor and Urban Reviews. Al-Saadiq Banks and Bernice McFadden are among her favorite authors as she enjoys a variety of genres.


  1. This is exactly why one of the things that the KC Girfriends Book Club review books on is the book's presentation- title, cover and synopsis. If they all don't make sense in respect to the book we're goning to mark the book rating down for it. A book review starts from the moment you lay your eyes on a book, not from the moment that you open it. Let's get it together authors!

  2. Excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent blog...and did I say excellent? Needed to be said...and SO SO SO needs to be headed! I wrote this in my head. Leona must've caught my telepathic vibe. LOL

  3. I agree completely and it starts with readers. Women are the biggest readers yet they are buying books with these covers. As long as readers support these covers, nothing will change. It's all about the money and sales for some authors and publishers. They couldn't care less about image or being offensive unfortunately. Some of these covers should come with a warning label. I can understand an erotic book having a risque cover but most of the books I see these covers on are not in the erotic genre. What's sad is many of these authors with these covers are women so you'd think they would want a somewhat decent cover. But it is what it is.

    1. To me it starts with the AUTHOR speaking up about their cover FIRST. The PUBLISHER need to listen to the author and go with an appropriate cover. The READERS don't need to purchase books that are disrespectful and/or doesn't represent the story line. The problem didn't just start with pornographic covers and vulgar language. The problem began with misrepresented book covers and have lead into the pornographic covers and vulgar titles. This is not acceptable to all readers so it's not just the responsibility of readers to speak up. This issue is a literary industry problem from the readers on up. ALL PARTIES need to speak up!

  4. I want to marry this post! I completely agree. I hate the covers with the naked women and blood spatter and PORNOGRAPHIC scenes. It's time to step it up. I always go for simple, but eye catching covers.

  5. I agree wholeheartedly. I have never understood the covers with nudity and I can't handle the cluttered ones. These covers come a dime a dozen. The goal is to stand out from the crowd, not blend in. Excellent post!

  6. Absolutely spot on..enough said!!!

  7. When you don't know better, you can't do better. I've always followed this mantra, but the deeper the pool of "independent" writers, the more absurd the trend becomes. Most of these covers, like titles, are not of artistic expression, but one of the "I can do it with less taste" types. We all secretly laugh at some of the nonsense passing off as books, but it stopped being funny and has become a sad epidemic. The more we support ignorance, nudity, tastelessness and denigration, the more of it we'll receive. Businesses, including self-published ones, only see the bottom line--problem is they sacrifice the craft in doing it.