Monday 20 June 2016

Book Covers - Do They Really Sell Books?

By Cassandra Samuels

Greetings fair readers.

You walk into a bookshop filled with books of all sizes and colours. Then something catches your eye and you walk over and pick up the book. What was it about the cover that enticed you to pick it up? The colour, the font, the couple on the front?

Marketers and the Art departments of the big publishing companies spend a ton on getting their covers right. Their different lines might even have a certain look (think Harlequin Mills and Boon). Indie published authors also agonise over them with the cover artists of their choice. Some are even brave enough to do their own covers. Hence, there is a huge variety of covers and an even bigger divide between good covers and downright awful ones.

So, I went to the source. A graphic designer who specialises in book covers and our special guest today, Hang Le. She does some pretty amazing covers and was kind enough to answer some questions on this topic.

How did you become a cover designer? 


It actually happened by accident. I’ve always worked in the Arts, ranging from film and theatre to interior design. I was in an online reading group with Erin Noelle who knew of my art background. She asked for my opinion on her first book Metamorphosis and I ended up designing the entire cover. That was in the beginning of 2013 when self-publishing was still pretty new. From there, everything grew organically through word of mouth.

A Beautiful Funeral by Jamie McGuire
This is one of Hang's recent covers but, also her favourite kind to create – evocative and emotional.

Do you mostly do Romance book covers or other types of fiction too? 

The bulk of my designs are Romance but, I love branching out. I find inspiration in many different forms so I enjoy changing things up.

What is your favourite type of cover to do?

I’m not sure I have a favourite genre per se. Each genre has it’s own quirks and distinguishing charms but, it’s all about the process for me. I approach each cover the same no matter the genre. I don’t go into a design with a set image in mind. Each project is personalised and the fun (for me at least) is discovering the perfect image for that story.

The Veiled Heart by Elsa Holland 

Hang loved the challenge of creating this RWA award-winning cover that would appeal to all genres. 


What do you find the most challenging part of being a cover designer? 

Finding the ideal creative compromise. Getting myself and the client on the same page and speaking the same creative language. As a designer, I want a certain amount of freedom but, this always works better when it’s a collaboration with the client. I think anyone who works in the creative field experiences this.

How have covers changed since you started making them? 

I think covers are only getting better. In this saturated market, designers, authors, and publishers alike are having to step up their game. Think outside of the box and get more creative. The quality of covers are getting better as well. A lot of self-published covers have the same quality you would expect from a traditional publishing house. It’s actually quite exciting.

The Seduction of Lord Stone by Anna Campbell 

Hang said she loved putting a twist on a Classic Style for Anna's book.

Do you do paperback covers as well as e-book covers and is there a difference? 

Yes, I do both ebook and paperback. Honestly, I treat both the same. There’s always a chance that an e-book cover will turn into a print cover and every book should look good in thumbnail size.

And the big question. Do you think covers sell books or how important do you think a cover is in selling books at the moment? 

Absolutely! Covers are the first impression and your best marketing tool. Even in an over saturated market, you want a cover that will grab attention, something visually compelling that will help you stand out amongst the crowd.

The Bird and the stone by Amy Harmon
 She loves this cross-genre cover due to its boldness and simplicity. Giving just enough away to stir curiosity.

There is no doubt that getting a good cover is at the very least a major factor when creating or buying a book.

What makes you pick up a book?

Thank you to Hang Le for answering my questions. You can see more of Hang's work on her Pinterest Page or follow Hang on her Facebook page Designs by Hang Le.

Love to Love: My new camera which makes all my photos look amazing.

photo belongs to Cassandra Samuels

Love to Laugh: At my grandson who is now crawling and getting into mischief.

Love to Learn: About all aspects of this crazy book biz.


  1. Thanks so much for a really informative post, Cassandra and Hang Le. I think covers have a huge role to play in attracting readers to books in the first place (although if the blurb doesn't live up to the promise of the cover then I won't buy a book for the cover alone). I've loved so many of Hang Le's gorgeous covers over the years. Great interview!

    1. Yes, we must always remember that the story is what we are buying, but having a lovely cover really does help in that initial pick up.

  2. I am always fascinated by covers...and admit I've bought a book for its cover in the past (and no doubt the present and the future!). I love standing in a bookshop and looking at the colours and designs of coves for ages. I also love virtual cover fact, everything about them fascinates me! Thanks for this little insight into cover creation Cassandra and Hang Le!

    1. It is fascinating isn't it Malvina? I am sure there is an art to making a cover look good no matter whether it is on a paperback or a tiny thumbnail.

  3. Thanks for a great post, Hang Le. Fascinating job working with covers. In years past I always picked up a book if the title interested me. Then if the blurb and first page got my attention I bought the book. Back then covers did not influence my purchases. Nowadays, the covers are much more eye-catching (I guess they have to be to catch readers' attentions due to the huge numbers of books available) and I do admit to picking up books purely for their covers. BUT I don't buy on covers alone. The story has to grab me.

  4. Were those in the days when the series novels (M&B) were all basically the same Enisa?

  5. Thank you for the valuable insights you have provided into the creation of book covers, Hang Le. When I choose a book based on its cover, I think I respond to the cover emotionally. Since reading romance fiction is an emotional experience, I think an intriguing cover would have special appeal to romance readers.

    1. Hi Sharon. Interested to know what it is about a cover that gives you that emotional response? Is it how the couple are situated or something else?

  6. I'll admit that the book cover will initially entice me to pick a book up. I love the visual appeal that hints at what's inside. (But loathe when the cover fails to honestly reflect the book's contents.)

    1. Hi Dee. I know what you mean by hints. I think I can pick a Historical Romance font from across a crowded bookshop. ha ha.

  7. Gorgeous covers! I will be sure to watch for more of your work in the future! Thanks for the great post, Hang and Cassandra! :)

    1. Hi Jessica. Thanks for dropping by. Hang has done some amazing covers. Her FB site is well worth checking out.

  8. This was really great! Thanks so much. I've admired your cover work many times, Hang Le. So cool to put a name to these wonderful covers.
    Having a good cover, especially one that reveals genre, is vital. You won't even get looked at without one, let alone picked off the shelf.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Cathryn. It's clever how certain little clues indicate genre, isn't it?


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