Book Cover Seven-Second Test

A book cover that passes the seven-second test will stand a better chance of being purchased and read. Seven seconds is the average time that potential book buyers will give you to win their attention. How can you make the most of those seven seconds?

There are three options or methods available when it comes to creating a book cover.

1. The first is using a DIY template creator where you upload your own image and title.
2. The second is hiring a graphic designer.
3. The third would be to have a professional designer with “Big 5 publisher” experience to design the cover.

What are the pros and cons to each method?
What is the best method to make your book cover a success?

To answer those questions we took True Stories from the Files of the FBI and had the cover designed with these three methods.

DIY Book Cover

Free Book Cover
Free Cover Creator for True Stories from the Files of the FBI

With the first book cover (above) we used CreateSpace’s free cover creator. We found a public domain photograph, and created the entire book cover in about an hour.


• The Price— It cost nothing but our time to create this cover.
• It was the quickest of the three methods.


• With only two colors the cover does not stand out.
• We were limited to only to the text boxes available so there is not a section for “About the Author” or “Reviews.”
• Limited to only a few font choices.

Graphic Designer Book Cover

Graphic Designer Book cover
Graphic Designer Version of True Stories from the Files of the FBI

For the second example (above) we hired a mid-range general graphic designer. In our test group this cover did remarkably better than the first cover. The cost for a middle range book cover designer is on average $300 for only one concept.


• The price was reasonable.
• The cover stood out better on the shelf.
• The cover went better with the contents of the book.


• We were offered only one concept.
• The book cover gave away the story.
• Too much going on in the background.
• Too many different fonts are used.
• Copyright permissions are not fully vetted, creating a liability.

Professional Book Cover

Professional Book Cover
Book Cover Professional Version of True Stories from the Files of the FBI

The final example (above) was processed through one of Izzard Ink’s book cover designers that had years of experience with a Big 5 book publisher.  The professional designers understand what it takes to create a winning book cover. This cover was the third concept that we paid for and it did the best in our focus group. The cost was much higher at $2,000.


• The book cover designer did more research on the content, including reading parts of the book.
• We had three concepts to chose from.
• The book cover stands out from other books on the shelf and sales reflected that.


• Price.

From Izzard Ink’s experience dealing with the three different types of covers—free, basic and professional—the old adage comes true, you get what you pay for. It was more money but in the end the three-concept option scored much better with our focus group. This translated into more sales.

Izzard Ink will work with you on your next book cover and help you connect with the right designer for the right price. Make the most of the hard work you already put in as an author. Those precious seven seconds are worth all the attention we can give them.