Every successful book needs an attractive cover design like a man needs water. Some covers are so iconic that you don’t need to have read the book in order to know what the name of the books is, like the red carousel horse of Catcher in the Rye, the empty tree of To Kill a Mockingbird, Katniss’ mockingjay pin of The Hunger Games, the pale hands holding a red apple of Twilight, or the gray necktie of Fifty Shades of Grey. All these covers were designed professionally to make them both eye catching to consumers and to display the tone and symbolism of the books.
However, because self-published authors don’t often have the luxury of a professional cover designer to make a decent cover for their books, they are left with having cheap middling artists design their covers or design them themselves, often to laughably terrible results. Here are three of some of the worst cover arts for self-published book on Amazon. Keep in mind that the quality of the cover art does not necessarily reflect the quality of a book’s writing or story, but it is often the case.
The Forensic Certified Public Accountant and the Cremated 64-SQUARES Financial Statements
Dwight David Thrash
The Forensic Certified Public Accountant and the Cremated 64-SQUARES Financial Statements (try saying that fast ten times) doesn’t have offensively terrible cover art but it is incredibly bland. The font is a boring Gopher Medium, the background an untitillating shade of grey, and a chessboard and pieces that have no significant connection to the unreadably terrible story other than a closing line so inconsequential it would have been better for the author to make the cover art the burned company building the story focuses on.
Not even a change of typography, cover art, and color would improve this book series’ quality. Yes, you heard me right; this book is the first in a series, all of which are terrible with equally terribly boring cover art—one of which is just the title written in Gopher Medium on a blank cover.
Empress Theresa is perhaps one of the most infamously terrible self-published books that people think of when they think of terrible self-publish books. Beside the fact the story is a thinly veiled wish fulfillment told through the author’s one dimensional Mary Sue character written by Norman Boutin, a man who cannot take even the smallest of constructive criticism if his life depended on it, the book has a history of having not one, not two, not three, but four terrible cover designs; all of which were drawn by Boutin.
The sophomoric attempts at capturing the beauty of the main character and the authority she commands makes it seem as though the author had never laid eyes on a woman before he drew his covers, which he felt the need to have on both sides of his book. Though Boutin would benefit from art theory and anatomy classes so he’d know where breasts are supposed to go, an update in cover design won’t save his woefully tactless book.
The Gaean Enchantment
T. Jackson King
Look at the cover of The Gaean Enchantment, what do you think the story would be about? If you thought it would be a silly lighthearted adventure involving a trio of senior citizens with one foot in a retirement home doing battle against a goofy leaf monster with a random buffalo looking on the imminent clash, no one would blame you.
The cover does nothing to infer to the social collapse the alternate magical Earth is going through or the quest of an archaeologist and his mage wife to rescue their children or the leaf monster made up of the “evil of past human sacrifices.” The book’s author T. Jackson King has since updated the cover art with something more appealing though not very inspired: a globe of the world before an autumn wood.
These are only a handful of some dreadfully awful pieces of “art”; they are not even the worst covers I’ve found. Moral of the story: don’t pinch pennies trying to find a decent artist to make cover art for your book and for the love of God, don’t make your own if you have no fathomable idea how to use Photoshop or a Cintiq.
What are your favorite book covers of all time? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.