How to Screw Up a Great Book Cover

Ever wonder what separates a good book cover from a great one? This post will try to show you the difference with 3 examples of a great book cover design gone wrong due to a mistake.

Hopefully, seeing these will help you improve your cover picking and judging skills. 😉

Typography Mistake

This cover completely botches text. Badly. While the visual is beautifully illustrated.

1. Not only series title is misplaced, going way too close and on top of the title, but it has an ugly black stroke on it. New designers and DIYers often use strokes to fix the issue of text not being readable, but it doesn’t always work. It takes more effort than adding a stroke to fix it, design isn’t always that easy.

2. The title is barely readable at small thumbnail and it drowns into the visual. It’s probably due to the fact that it’s opacity is not 100% (it was made partly transparent). And that hurts with contrast. Really don’t understand why you’d use transparent text, it should be used rarely. 

3. Author name is almost ok, the ugly stroke is messing it up again. It could have more ‘kerning’ which is a designer term for having more space between letters (so it should be wider in this exact case).

Otherwise, the illustrations has great colors, is beautifully drawn. It has the potential to do great, but may have been a situation where artist was illustrator without text skills so author had to DIY text.

Balance and Structure Mistake

1. This cover has an imbalance in its structure and hierarchy. It could have been an interesting and intriguing cover (black/red/white is a great color mix). But instead of putting elements together in some kind of hierarchy, where one element should be dominant, other one secondary, other tertiary, the design is all over the place. As said in part 1 article about design Hierarchy and Structure, it can ‘drive’ the eyes where it needs.

2. The guy seems to be the main element so I’d make the girl’s face smaller, so it looks like she’s further away. She should be smaller by a good third and that would allow a move towards the center more, instead of neither left neither center left.. 

3. The tagline being so huge is also absolutely bad, ebook covers are not for reading taglines or reviews. We have milliseconds online to capture attention, no time for reading a long sentences. That’s bad enough on it’s own but then it’s also placed right where the book title and author name should be. Thus completely throwing text off balance and pushing title/name down.

4. Author name and title are too small and placed too low. The order in which it’s made is also questionable but at least it’s kinda original so I can see why the idea was used. The only problem there is that title words should be bigger. And in caps lock just like author name.

99% Amazing Cover (Pure Nitpicking)

1. This cover is absolutely gorgeous and 99% there. There is only 1 thing that is something that could be improved, but otherwise, it is awesome! This is just to nitpick in order to show how cover designers see things differently.

The mistake was that if you separate text into two places, they have to be either close together or far away. This cover has the author name neither close enough to title, nor far away enough.

2. At the same time, same mistake creates a completely dead space between name and subtitle, and the text could have been occupying it instead, perfectly balancing out the woman.

Still, a fantastic cover!

Hope this has been insightful. I’m considering expansion of this with more examples so if you’d like that, leave a comment below and let me know! 😉 For more book cover design mistake examples visit and read this post.