Book Cover Design Dilemma: How Much Feedback Is Too Much?
Faux, Funny, and Fearful Feedback Requests for Book Cover Designs
There's a place for feedback. But I really get annoyed at faux feedback pitches. What do I mean by that? Because I follow a number of self-published authors and writers on social media, I regularly see posts that ask for feedback on book cover designs and marketing materials. When I see them, I find myself questioning whether the person really wants feedback . . . or are they just wanting to advertise their upcoming books and marketing efforts?
Whether on social media, by email, or in person, I've also found that authors may ask for feedback on their designs, but go ahead and choose what they wanted anyway. So why did they want input? Validation for their decision? Going through the motions? Plus, I've found that the options they offer for review are usually pretty close to each other. I could put the options on a wall and throw darts to pick one, and it wouldn't make much difference.
Buyer's Remorse and Fear of Making the Wrong Decision
Those authors who have invested in graphic design for their book covers may also have a touch of buyer's remorse when they see the finished design options. They may feel that they spent too much. So by getting some positive (they hope!) feedback from their tribes, it will make the pain of spending the cash go away.
And here's where it gets even funnier. With some exceptions, most self-published authors are not graphic design professionals. So when they hem and haw about the subtleties of each design option, they get themselves worked up over something for which they have little experience or understanding. That's probably why they feel inclined to ask for feedback. They're just so unsure of themselves and are afraid they'll make the wrong decision. (P.S. There is no wrong design—only more or less effective design.)
Part of the fear of making the wrong decision may be caused by fear of the publishing process. It could be due to a sense of loss at coming to the end of the project or fear of actually putting the book out into the world. By throwing this feedback loop into the process, authors can safely stay where they feel comfortable.
When Book Cover Design Really Matters
Book cover design is absolutely critical when selling books in a brick-and-mortar retail environment.
At the back of the room at speaking events? Not so much. Back of the room sales can be a memento of a positive experience. So the book cover design is less of a factor in an event attendee's decision to buy or not. It would be rare for a happy attendee to walk up to a post-event sales table and say, "Ew! I'm not buying that book from this great speaker because the cover design sucks."
Online, it's crucial to have the cover make a visual impact at a very small size (at 1" to 2" or less) on a screen or mobile device.
Why You Shouldn't Ask for Feedback on Social Media
How Do You Know If You're Too Obsessed About Your Book Cover Design?
In the feedback beggars' defense, I'll admit that I've seen some pretty ridiculous self-published book covers. So their concern for creating a better product is applauded. But beyond the issue of avoiding totally cheesy or offensive cover art, it can be obsessing over trivia.
- Listen to your gut. Whether you design it yourself with online tools or have a graphic designer create it for you, one design option will usually "feel" right when you look at it. That's the one to likely be the best choice.
- Ask only a few, qualified folks. As I've expressed elsewhere, limiting your manuscript editors and beta readers to a few qualified individuals can prevent perfection paralysis. Same principle applies here. Sometimes your editors and beta readers can be valuable reviewers for your book cover design, too. Avoid asking the hundreds of followers you have on social media unless you potentially want hundreds of viewpoints.
- Cover creation tools are usually built by design professionals. Even if you can only afford free cover creation tools provided by your self publishing platform, remember that these templates were likely developed by cover design professionals familiar with the publishing industry. So they'll offer design templates that have a greater degree of design success, particularly for inexperienced self published authors.
- You've got more to worry about. While authors muddle through this design dilemma, they also may be trying to avoid the hard work of finalizing their manuscripts which would include editing and proofreading. The book manuscript is what people are really buying! Design, decide, and move on to what's really important.
And if all else fails when choosing a book cover design, flip a coin.
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.
© 2017 Heidi Thorne