Why I’m against the “cover design reveal” trend among indie authors

Note: I almost deleted this post because I’m not sure whether I agree with myself. Cover design reveals are fine if you have a large audience and you don’t make a big deal out of it, or when you reveal in conjunction with a book launch – like “here is the cover for my new book, which is available now!”

I’ll admit I don’t have strong feelings about cover design reveals: but I don’t think they work, and I think my opinion may have some validity and usefulness, so I’ll share it. Indie authors growing their fanbase probably don’t have enough loyal fans to care so much about their cover design as to be overawed at the prospect of having the curtains slowly drawn back so they can behold an author’s cover design for the first time.

But that’s besides the point: there are more reasons why a “reveal” is a bad idea.

1) You decided on the cover without enough feedback

Most cover designs are not impressive enough to warrant a reveal, but much less so if the author has taken over the process and done most of the work quietly with the designer. It might be pretty good. It might be great. Your audience might like it. They might not.

You’ll never know, if you don’t give them the opportunity to participate.

A cover design process is a great thing to invite your readers into, by asking for their feedback and recommendations.

Not that you should listen to them – especially if you have twenty readers and you make your final decision based on a split vote.

You should get feedback, but you should get it from a statistically significant audience (100, possibly, but 1000 would be better).

Low numbers don’t mean much. But they do give you the opportunity to share something with your readers and get them involved.

2) You are wasting an opportunity, by focusing on YOU, and not adding value

Nobody really cares that much about your book cover design. Even if it’s totally awesome. They probably aren’t going to share it to all their friends and say “Holy CRAP, look at this AMAZING book cover!” They’ll “like” it to support you, but it won’t go viral (book covers themselves almost never go viral).

Indie authors could use the cover design process much more effectively by sharing it with their readers openly and step-by-step, getting feedback on the early samples, having them vote on images.

You could be writing posts that actually get shared, like “10 things about publishing I learned from my cover designer” or “how to make a book cover that sells.” Write posts that help other people and they will get shared (and they will also, of course, bring in more traffic and new readers.)

If you do things right, there won’t be any need for a “reveal” because your readers will have watched the cover come together, they will feel they had a hand in making it, and they will be much more emotionally invested.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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