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Makeovers for old book covers
  • By : Rob Sturtz

I saw an updated cover to a classic children’s book (one of my personal favorites as a kid!), and it was a great reminder that we, as indie authors, can choose to update our old book covers any time we want to breathe new life into the books.
An article I wrote on the subject in 2018 still holds true, and since we have so many new authors joining the SPBC family, I figured now would be a good time to revisit the concept of makeovers for books!
“Re-cover Back-List Books to
Breathe New Life into Your Book Sales”
by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
Shoshanna Evers writing as Shoshanna Gabriel

One of the interesting comments I hear after an indie author has discovered our site, is: “I wish I had known about you guys when I first started self publishing. I would’ve had much better covers.“ Here’s the cool thing: you’re not stuck with whatever cover you used when you originally published. As long as you have control over your book (i.e. it’s not a book with the traditional publisher), then you can re-cover your back-list titles. (Your newest book is considered your “front list,” and anything older than your latest book is your backlist).

For example, you can go onto your Bookshelf on Amazon’s KDP, and edit an older book’s details— including uploading a new cover, changing the price of your book, or even uploading a revised or reformatted book interior. These updates, when they go live, are automatically sent out to anyone who had previously downloaded your book. This actually sends your book to the top of readers’ digital library, so if they bought the book but haven’t read it yet, seeing it re-download on their Kindle may remind them to give it a try!

One of my books (back when I was writing as Shoshanna Evers) went through numerous book covers over the years. They were all good covers, but as styles of romance covers changed, so did my covers. Each time I changed my covers, they caught a different sort of reader’s eye, and spiked lagging sales.

Here’s an example of how “Snowed in with the Tycoon” went through 4 iterations. I want to stress that *each of these covers* was the “official” cover, and was published. These were *not* alternate mock-up versions.

We created the final version of the cover to match the style of one of my traditionally-published books, to try and create cross-over sales. It worked! I got a nice sales bump and could see the correlation in Amazon’s “Also Boughts”.
Savvy publishers know how a new cover can help an old book feel new, as well. Sure enough, a couple years later, the publisher updated the cover of the book I had published with them. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t bother to re-cover my correlating indie one for the 5th time to match, since by then I’d already decided to stop writing as Shoshanna Evers.
One of my author friends recently decided to re-launch all of her old books. She re-edited them, re-formatted, designed branded new covers, wrote new book blurbs, and even decided to re-publish them fresh, with new ISBNs and zero reviews! The books’ sales soared (and great new reviews rolled in that didn’t mention the older versions’ imperfections, which had been fixed). It was amazing to watch.

If you have backlist books, consider putting new covers on them. You can do a “Cover Reveal” blog post with a giveaway, run a concurrent 99c sale, and see what happens! If you have several books, you can stagger the releases of the new covers, or do it all at once for a splash. Good luck with it!

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