Cover Matters

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by Robin Lee Hatcher

It’s a bold new world for writers. No doubt about that. Not all that long ago, there was a traditional path to publishing that the vast majority of novelists followed. The digital age has changed things so much in the last two years, I hardly know where to begin.

It used to be I always discouraged any writer from self-publishing. Now I simply caution them to be careful. Don’t try to do it yourself if you aren’t willing or able to spend the money required to have your book professionally edited. Don’t do it if you aren’t prepared to create a marketing plan and follow it to the letter. And for pity sake, don’t slap a less-than-stellar cover on it that screams, Amateur!!! or Lazy!!! or Cheapskate!!!

Anne of Green GablesRecently, I came across a three-in-one Anne of Green Gables book, released in November 2012. The cover is atrocious. Not because it is ugly but because it is so inappropriate. There was even a Publishers Weekly blog post about it. Here we see a 21st Century teenager with a sexy, come-hither look on her face. Blond, no less. This was supposed to be Anne Shirley?

Then I noticed this book was from CreateSpace, a self-publishing service. I realized then that someone took stories in the public domain, slapped a cover on them, and put the book up for sale on the Internet. Obviously without any thought to what the stories are about or when/where they are set (the first Anne of Green Gables was released in 1908).

Swimming to the SurfaceWant to see when someone does self-publishing right? ACFW member Kristin Billerbeck recently went that route with her book, Swimming to the Surface. The book is available as an ebook, but she also used CreateSpace for the print version. However, judging by the cover alone, no one (outside of the writers who obsess about such things) would know this book wasn’t released by a major publisher. It is professional in every way, right down to the recognizable font used in her name.

I’m not saying traditional publishing houses always get covers right. They don’t. And sometimes they listen to authors and sometimes they turn a deaf ear. They have control But if you are going the self-publishing route, control is in your hands. Use it to make good decisions. Learn what makes a book cover “pop,” especially when viewed as a thumbnail on the Internet.

It’s a brave new world out there. Here’s to your publishing success.

robin lee hatcherRobin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She is the author of over 65 books, which have garnered her the Carol, the Christy, the RITA, and many other awards. Find her at and

Comments 0

  1. Oh my goodness, Robin. I can’t believe some of the covers I’ve seen, too. I wonder if any book had sales destroyed because of a tacky cover. Then there are those that are just tasteless. Some are near pornographic, though I suspect, in the secular industry, that increases sales. My wife has read for secular contests and I’ve been forced to turn them cover side down if left in the living room, and these are supposed to be romantic suspense!

  2. Self publishing can be a scary business for new and for established writers. Yet the publishing trend is slowly turning that way. I like the warnings and suggestions as you stated in your blog. You are very thoughtful in how and what you say.

  3. Excellent post, Robin! Thank you. I guess we have to revisit the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover. It’s still true that first impressions are usually lasting ones.


    Harbourlight Books-2012

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