You Do Judge A Book By Its Cover

by | January 28, 2013 | General | 4 comments

Your book cover makes a huge impression – so huge it could
affect your sales. An ugly cover could kill your sales because the idea is that
if you don’t care enough about your book to cough up the cash for a spiffy
cover, what does that say about the content of your book? Ugly covers are
unprofessional. They make you look like a noob.

That said, there are some covers so bad they defy
imagination. What were these people thinking? I’m bringing this up because I
had a truly fugly cover for my short sweet romance “The Storm”. The
publisher closed shop before the story was published so I was saved the
embarrassment of seeing this cover in public. Here is it, in all its hideous glory:

Isn’t that simply dreadful? The faces look like they were tacked on, and the edges have
not been smoothed. You can’t even see the ship. At least the title and my name
are clearly visible, although they are in a nauseating puke green. I guess that’s to symbolize seasickness. The cover is also very dark – hard to see. You can’t even
tell what the story is about judging by this terrible cover. It’s a muddy,
unclear mess. My story is a bittersweet romantic comedy with pirates. You’d never know from the cover.

Your cover is your entry into your potential reader’s mind.
It had better stick, and in a good way. The images should be crisp, clean, and
light. Not muddy. Print should be clear enough to read in a thumbnail. If you
can’t see your cover well when it’s in thumbnail you need a new cover. Remember that sites like Amazon display your covers in thumbnail format so it’s important your cover be legible and attractive when small.

Here are some examples of bad covers:

There are more colors in this cover than a bag of Jelly
Bellies. Plus why does the woman look like a Real Doll? She looks plastic –
literally. I wonder if she has a vibrating cachet?

Where is her right arm? Why does she look like she’s
grabbing him by the ‘nads or giving his ass a squeeze? Also, it looks like he’s
going to wrap the lasso around her neck. Not very sexy unless you’re into
auto-erotic asphyxiation.

There is so much wrong with this cover. Dull, muddy colors.
Images of people that look tacked on without adequate blending or shading. Why
aren’t there any shadows below them? He looks like he’s floating in mid-air.
And why is her butt blacked out?

The following covers made me laugh so hard I spewed iced tea all over my monitor. Watch your titles for
double-entendres. No further comment necessary.

Here is my favorite strange and unfortunate book cover. Wow! Imagine the content! Are these lesbians on horseback or lesbian horses?

Oh, about that terrible cover for my short story “The
Storm”? I found an artist who painted a watercolor for me for that short
story, which is now available for free on my web site. This is one of my
favorite covers. It’s beautiful. You may read the story on my web site at this link.

About Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black
writes erotica, erotic romance, speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror. She
also enjoys writing erotic retellings of classic fairy tales. Born and bred in
Baltimore, she grew up under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. Her erotic
fiction has been published by Xcite Books (U. K.), Circlet Press, Ravenous
Romance, Scarlet Magazine (U. K.), and other publishers. Her horror fiction has
appeared in “Kizuna: Fiction For Japan”, “Stupefying
Stories”, and “Mirages: Tales From Authors Of The Macabre”. An
accomplished essayist, she was the sex columnist for the pop culture e-zine
nuts4chic (also U. K.) until it folded in 2008. Her articles about sex,
erotica, and relationships have appeared in Good Vibrations Magazine, Alternet,
CarnalNation, the Ms. Magazine Blog, Sexis Magazine, On The Issues, Sexy Mama
Magazine, and Circlet blog. She also writes sex toys reviews for several sex
toys companies.

In addition to
writing, she has also worked as a gaffer (lighting), scenic artist, and make-up
artist (including prosthetics) for movies, television, stage, and concerts. She
worked as a gaffer for “Die Hard With A Vengeance” and “12
Monkeys”. She did make-up, including prosthetics, for “Homicide: Life
On The Street”. She is especially proud of the gunshot wound to the head
she had created with makeup for that particular episode. She also worked as a
prosthetic makeup artist specializing in cyanotic blue, bruises, and buckets of
blood for a test of Maryland’s fire departments at the Baltimore/Washington
International Airport plane crash simulation test. Yes, her jobs are fun.

She lives in
Lovecraft country on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four
cats. The ocean calls her every day, and she always listens. She has yet to run
into Cthulhu.

Visit her web
site at

Her Facebook
page is

Follow her at

Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black's erotic fiction has been published by Cleis Press, Xcite Books, Scarlet Magazine, Circlet Press, and others. She also writes dark fiction and horror as E. A. Black. She lives in Massachusetts next to the ocean with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her and she listens.


  1. Kathleen Bradean

    Elizabeth- oh dear! Those covers. You're so right about how important they are.

  2. Anonymous

    You're right, your new cover is much better than the old one, Elizabeth. However, are you aware that it's completely the wrong size for most online publishers? Book covers should be 2:3, whereas your cover is so elongated it's practically 1:2. At least your old publisher did not make THAT mistake. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, the reason why the lady's bottom was blacked out on one of the covers is presumably because Amazon doesn't allow naked butts on covers and will either refuse them upload them or filter them.

  3. Harper Eliot

    That is an amazing list of book covers! So so hideous.

    And "The best Dad is a good lover"?!?! I meanโ€ฆ what?

    Although 'Scouts in Bondage' is disappointingly un-BDSMish.

  4. Lisabet Sarai

    Oy! Some real winners in that collection!

    "When these Sapphic sisters saddle up, ecstasy is only a hoofbeat away…!"

    Oh my!

    I love the watercolor on the new cover, btw.

Hot Chilli Erotica

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