Book cover illustration for David R. Lusk's A Man of War

Occasionally I see a writer agonize over which of two proposed book cover illustrations to place on his book. His fear is that one picture might be much better than the other for their title. And since there’s no way to know (short of trying both), it is a decision that’s hard to make.

Or is it?

In fact, the problem is not quite as dire as a writer may think. That’s because bad designs create an instant reaction. Like the proverbial Supreme Court quote, you know a bad book cover illustration when you see it. You don’t have to think it over. It’s obviously bad.

So if you reach the point that you can’t decide between two illustrations for your book cover, that doesn’t mean that one is bad and one is good. Rather, when you get that point, both are good.

Either will serve you well.

There’s no real bad decision to make.

So if you get to the point that both book cover illustrations/designs look good and it’s hard to decide, relax. Either one will work quite well for you and will likely sell just as many copies as the other one would have.

If nothing else, just flip a coin. Heads you win, tails you win.


Duncan Long is a freelance book cover illustrator for HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, Solomon Press, Fort Ross, and other publishers as well as self-publishing authors who have trouble making decisions. See his book cover illustrations at: