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Do You Really Want Feedback on Your Self-Published Book Cover?

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Do you really want feedback on your self-published book cover?

Do you really want feedback on your self-published book cover?

A social media post I often see from self-published authors is one that announces, “Here’s my new book cover. What do you think?” I have to admit that I don’t know how to respond. The reason for my hesitation is that I don’t know what the authors really want.

Cue for Compliments?

Should I say it’s beautiful no matter what? Should I give constructive feedback? Depending on where and how it’s posted, who’s posting it, and my available time, I might go either way. I might just “like” it and move on if I don’t have time, but I want to acknowledge that I saw it.

Sometimes I dig into giving constructive feedback. Calls for feedback are editor catnip (occupational hazard). My constructive feedback might be met with defensive comments or complete silence from the author. Then I realize that those authors probably weren’t really looking for feedback. They really wanted acknowledgment or encouragement, maybe even compliments. Then when they get real feedback which they perceive as pushback or probing questions instead of approval, their egos get bruised.

Reassurance for Reckless Spending and Retail Dreams

Authors may also be looking for validation for their choice of design or designer. Some self published authors spend a fortune on their book covers, justifying that expense by thinking that it will be the ticket to big book sales. But it’s not as critical as it was back in the days when brick-and-mortar bookstores were the norm for selling books. Now it’s unlikely that any self published book will be shelved in a physical retail bookstore.

Even if a self published book miraculously makes it into a retail bookstore, it is unlikely to get displayed on the store aisle’s endcaps, new/featured releases tables, or featured on a shelf with the front cover facing out. No, it’s more likely that one or a couple of copies will be on a shelf where only the spine will be visible. The text of the title has to do the heavy lifting there.

In today’s online bookselling markets, the cover needs to look good in a small graphic, one that even may be viewed in search results on a mobile phone. Maybe these authors should post the tiny graphic so that their followers can see how it will appear in today’s online retail environment, which typically means Amazon.


Some authors think that posting their book cover pre-publication will put potential buyers on alert that the book will be out soon. It’s kind of like a pre-order ad without making it available for pre-order.

Authors have forgotten that people forget, and suffer from information overload. So these “What do you think of my cover?” posts will be quickly forgotten.

What Should You Do for Feedback on Your Book Cover?

If you are weighing whether to field feedback on your book cover from your friends and followers, consider this first:

Evaluate if you are really seeking feedback. Do you really want or need feedback on your cover? Can you not make a decision on your own? Are you trying to justify overspending on your book cover? What if you get feedback that you should change your design? If you’re not planning on making changes in response to feedback, then why ask? In that case, you are likely to just be looking for attention or admiration.

Ask for private and/or professional help. Do you really want feedback from just anyone who follows you, or worse, your judgmental and unqualified family and friends? Are they even capable of evaluating a design for your market or genre? Privately ask a few people who are knowledgeable of your book’s market for their input. Or ask your beta readers or editors for feedback. I’ve had a number of authors send me their initial cover designs for review along with their manuscripts for critiques.

Remember that people forget and don’t do what they say they’ll do. If your real intent is to make a book announcement with this “What do you think?” book cover post, make the announcement and offer it for sale or pre-order already! Your post has no real call to action without a mechanism to buy. Also remember that what people say they like isn’t necessarily what they will buy. It’s the focus group problem.

Remember that fans buy your book because it’s YOUR book. Your fans aren’t going to the store, in person or online, and saying to themselves, “Hmm. Well, [your author name here]’s book cover is not as beautiful as this one from [a competing author]. I think I’ll buy [competing author]’s book.” No! You should be priming your fans, your author platform, to want what’s between YOUR book’s covers.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 21, 2019:

Hi Dianna! You're welcome. Good luck with your book and have a great week!

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Dianna Mendez on April 20, 2019:

Thank you for the tips on this topic. I haven't come to this point yet but I will certainly use this to make a decision.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 18, 2019:

Bill, I'm like you. I just don't care what they think of the cover. I care what they think of what's between the covers. I have never publicly asked for cover feedback and won't.

On to fame and fortune as we define it! :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2019:

Honest to God, Heidi, I don't care about feedback on the cover. I did at one time, but I've given up on fame and fortune. Now I just write and publish for my enjoyment,and the enjoyment of some staunch followers.....but what you say is right on, as always.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 17, 2019:

Noted, please.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 17, 2019:

Hi Pamela! You and me both! I guess the old adage about not judging a book by its cover is becoming more true as the years go by. :)

I agree that it's awkward when someone asks for your opinion, but really wants your admiration.

Thanks for stopping by and your kind words! Have a great day!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 17, 2019:

I have never bought a book because I thought the cover was interesting. It is too late once the book is published. I think people put you in a bad position is they ask you what you think after the fact. I enjoyed your article.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 17, 2019:

Hi, Heidi, I appreciate you. Thanks for the response.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 17, 2019:

Liz, it is a bit late in the process when I see these folks posting their covers. However, some of them are definitely doing this pre-publication. But even if it's pre-publication, I've observed that they've already made their decision about the design. So why ask for feedback? They really just want some attention. Thanks for adding that to the conversation and have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 17, 2019:

Flourish, I find myself very passively liking these posts. You've gone the extra mile with "Congrats." :) Thanks for chiming in and have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 17, 2019:

Miebakagh, you're welcome! Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your eBooks!

Liz Westwood from UK on April 17, 2019:

My thought when reading this was "Isn't it a bit late to ask for feedback after you have self-published"? Would a better approach be to put up a draft copy or several draft choices of book covers before getting to the publishing stage?

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 17, 2019:

Hi, Heidi, thanks for sharing. I am new to all this because I had not self-published an e-book. I hope to in the nearest future. I had written two e-books, and I am getting things ready for publishing. Thanks again.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 16, 2019:

People usually don't want honest feedback and I sure don't have the time or energy to impart well-meaning feedback just to have it ignored. Therefore, if faced with such a "What do you think about my new book cover?" post, I'd probably just say, "Congratulations."

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