Saturday, September 16, 2023

Thoughts on Why Book Covers Matter to Our Reading Audience

by Patty Smith Hall @PattySmithHall

My first month as an indie author was an active one, and I didn’t even publish a book. I took a five-day Amazon Ad challenge with Brian Cohen (he has another challenge coming up in April that I highly recommend,) started a website on WordPress, and edited some of my older books. So, out of all of this, what did I learn?

A good cover matters.

As I said earlier, I took The Five-Day Amazon Ad Challenge with Brian Cohen, and as part of it, I had to make several different types of ads—automatic and keyword—then watch how these ads performed over several days to see which were more productive. For this project, I selected Courting Doctor Clark, one of the books Harlequin gave me back when the Love Inspired Historical closed down. 

I was excited to advertise this book. It was part of the Heartsong Presents division that LIH bought out, but never promoted. But as the days drew out, I was getting clicks but no sales. When I asked Brian about this, he asked me some pointed questions regarding my cover. Did my cover attract the kind of reader I wanted? Was it in line with my genre? If I saw my cover, would I want to buy the book? 

So, I went back and looked at my cover:

Though I liked this cover, I’m not sure it appealed to my audience which is a thirty-five to forty-year-old woman who loves to read as an escape and enjoys history. It looked more like a regency that the American historical romance I wrote. If I was completely honest with myself, I probably wouldn’t buy it if I saw the cover alone.

After studying the one hundred best sellers in my genre, I contacted the new cover designer I’m working with, paged through her ready-art covers and found one that answered most of the questions Brian had asked me. It’s not the perfect cover, but in order to see if my Amazon ads, I needed to change it fast. 

Here’s the new cover: 

Within twenty-four hours, I saw a dramatic different in my sales and KU page read-throughs. I continued my ads through this month and to date, my sales/read-throughs have gone from the single digits to triple digit sales, a 3000 percent increase.

So, what did I learn? Covers matter, particularly when you’re using Amazon to distribute your book. Think about it—when someone types in ‘historical romance’ into Amazon’s search engine, they’re presented with a list of books. No blurbs or reviews, just covers. 

Like I said, covers matter!

What do you find appealing in the covers of your favorite books? Do you buy a book because of the cover? Why?


Patty Smith Hall is a multi-published author, teacher and encourager to new writersjust starting their journey. A founding member of ACFW, she served on the national board and as a Genesis contest coordinator, and presided as president of her local chapter. As an acquisition editor for Winged Publications, she finds great joy in helping and encouraging others reach their publishing dreams. Married almost 40 years to Danny, she finds great joy in her family, friends, and her relationship with Jesus Christ. You can contact her at

Featured Image: Photo by Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash


  1. Thank you for sharing your findings. Richard Paul Evans taught me a lot about covers and the time and experience were worth every minute.

  2. Big difference! Yes, I believe covers do matter. Despite the potential for missing a great book because of a poor cover, readers still do judge a book by its cover. Thank you for your post, Patty.