I have seen many examples on the Internet of poorly designed book covers, especially eBook covers. In fact, there is a site at LousyBookCovers.com filled with pictures of book covers that authors have done themselves.
Here are 10 mistakes that I have seen authors make.
1. They create the cover themselves, or have their son/daughter/Aunt Martha do it— rather than having a professional design it.
2. They use a low-resolution photo or graphic for the cover photo, rather than the high-resolution that the Printer requires. This results in a fuzzy photo when printed.
3. They use a photo “off the Internet.” Photos on the Internet are owned by someone. If authors don't have permission to use someone's photo or art, they could be sued. They need to get permission or buy a photo from a stock photo site and read the fine print to ensure the photo can be used specifically for book covers.
4. They use background and accent colours on the cover that clash with the colours in the photo on the front. The front cover is designed to entice a potential buyer to pick up the book. If the colours are distracting and ugly, the buyer will be put off rather than attracted to the book.
6. They make the front cover too busy by adding too much information; for example, an endorsement or a list of the bonus material contained within. This distracts from the title of the book and the photo. The front cover does not need to be a “book trailer.”
7. They put their name across the top of the front cover in large print, as if they were famous authors, when the book is the only one they have ever written.
8. They give the whole story away on the back cover, so why would prospective buyers spend the money to buy the book? The back cover blurb is intended to intrigue and entice buyers to find out more.
9. They put their photo and bio on the back cover when they are first-time authors. Since their name is not a selling point, it is better to use that space for an endorsement to market the book and place the “About the Author” inside the book on the final page.
10. They underprice the book because they feel that they can't charge a high price for it. This only serves to undervalue their work in the eyes of potential buyers.
Having your book cover professionally designed is just as important as having it professionally edited. It needs to look good and sound good. You worked hard on the content; show it off to its best advantage!