Seth Godin on Book Covers

In a blog post eight years ago, Seth Godin wrote In praise of a blank page. Here is what he had to say about book covers:

Blank Book Cover“A friend just sent me a book he worked on. It’s a terrific book, but it has an astonishingly mediocre (if that’s possible) cover. I can just see how the cover came to be. There were proposals and meetings and compromises and a deadline. As the deadline loomed, the compromises came more often, until they ended up with a cover that didn’t match the power of the book.

“They should have just shipped a cover that was blank.

“Knowing that you need to ship a blank cover if you can’t come up with something great focuses the mind and takes the edge of the conversations about compromise. If ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough, and if the alternative is certain failure, people will dig in and come up with something better.”

Book Cover Critique by John Kremer – $150:

John Kremer’s Comments

Always choose better.

Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of bad covers even this year from major publishers as well as small publishers and self-publishers. That shouldn’t be happening. Book covers are too important in helping to sell a book. No author or publisher should ever settle for an adequate book cover. They should only settle for a fantastic cover that helps sell the book.

I think if publishers published more books with blank covers, we’d eventually end up with more great covers.

If you need help in coming up with a great book title or a great book cover, hire me. I can help you. For more information on my services, check out

I will help you come up with a brandable, memorable book title and help you remake a boring cover into a sizzling book cover that sells more books!

Book Cover Critique by John Kremer – $150:

Note: I am not a book cover designer, but I can tell you when you have a great book cover, one that will help you sell books, both online and offline (in real bookstores). That’s what I do well.

In a more recent post by Seth Godin (July 2009), he had this to say about book covers (reprinted with Seth’s permission):

The Purpose of a Book Cover

(and I think it works for lots of products)

Is the purpose of the cover to sell books? To accurately describe what’s in the book? Or to tee up the reader so the book has maximum impact?

It’s the third because if the book has maximum impact, then word of mouth is created, and word of mouth is what sells your product, not the cover.

Seth Godin on Book Covers

Tactically, the cover sells the back cover, the back cover sells the flap and by then you’ve sold the book. If those steps end up selling a book that the purchaser doesn’t like, game over. So you have to be consistent all the way through and end up creating a conversation after the purchase.

Books are better at creating conversations than most products (when was the last time you talked about a pool cue), but there’s lots of opportunity here, no matter what you make.

Some ways that a book cover can accomplish its mission:

Iconic (because iconic items tend to signal ‘important’)

Noticeable across the room (you see that lots of other people own it, thus making it likely that you’ll want to know why)

Sophisticated (because this helps reinforce that the ideas inside are worthy of your time)

Original (why bother reading a book you already know)



Generic (reminding you of a genre or another book you liked, not generic as in boring)

I don’t know about you, but I judge books by their covers every day.

Seth Godin

Book Cover Critique by John Kremer – $150:

For book cover designers and book design services, see

About John Kremer

John Kremer is author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, the Relationships Matter Marketing program, and many other books and reports on book marketing, Internet marketing, social media, and book publicity. -- .

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