Book Covers: Redesigning to Fish in a Bigger Pond | Ian Sutherland

How to Change Your Book Covers to Fish in a Bigger Pond

I’ve just gone through the heart-wrenching process of changing the book covers of my fiction thrillers.

Heart-wrenching because I absolutely loved the original book covers. They were designed to reflect the way I originally chose to market the books, which was to highlight the hi-tech and cybercrime elements of the stories. Peter O’Connor from did a fantastic job with the spec I gave him. My logic was that there were very few technically accurate thrillers published and so the book covers and blurb should focus on this element to achieve differentiation in a crowded book market. And Peter certainly delivered:

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Invasion of Privacy

But as time has gone on, reviews and reader feedback has taught me tons about what people really enjoy when reading my books. And while most find the hi-tech and cybercrime an interesting and unusual backdrop, what they really love are the well-rounded, complex characters and the page-turning suspense. Readers have helped me understand that I write good quality crime thrillers that can be enjoyed by anyone, and just happen to feature technology.

Fishing in a Small Pond

But by highlighting the hi-tech elements so prominently in the original book covers and the blurbs, I was putting off many people from taking a chance. Not everyone is comfortable with technology and so many will pass on by to something that appears to be more up their street.

There are quite a few reader reviews like these:

"The information about how hackers work has obviously been researched thoroughly and is enthralling. But even if you're not into IT then the storyline has you turning the pages avidly. The characters really come to life too.” Mrs. Annes K. Mien
"The hi-tec element is a different spin on the criminal novel and I wouldn't normally read but despite not being a Techie I was easily able to understand the detail of the plot and am impressed with the author's ingenuity in devising it - very clever.” Heather O'Neill

These two readers took a chance and loved them despite the prominence of tech content in the book covers and blurbs. But many more won’t take a chance.

Fishing in a Bigger Pond

Right now, I’m writing the third book in the series, and have been conscious that I’ll soon need to commission a new cover. Rather than continue with the same series cover theme, I've chosen to listen to what my readers are really trying to tell me and I’ve commissioned new book covers and updated the blurbs. Stuart Bache of took up the challenge and has come up trumps:

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Both new book covers present the impression of being contemporary crime thrillers, which is great because this is exactly what these books are. My hope now is that even more people will give the books a chance. And, on the way, they’ll just happen to encounter the hi-tech content which helps to gives the books their individuality. But, if the existing reviews are anything to go by, it’s the characters, plot twists and page-turning suspense that will be what they'll value and remember long afterwards.

Which is exactly what the new covers promise!


Ian's Original Cover for Invasion of Privacy

This was my own amateur attempt at designing my first book cover. I used it on my original website before Peter O'Conner designed the first professional cover. I also used it on Wattpad, where I first shared early drafts of the book's opening chapters to gain initial feedback from readers. As you can see, it majored on the hi-tech style!

Do you agree that the two new covers are more appealing to a broader audience?
Do you find yourself judging books by the cover alone?
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