As an Author, When Do You Know it’s Time to Change your Book Covers?

Deciding to change your book covers can be a tough decision, but it may be necessary if your books aren’t selling. That’s a dilemma I faced recently with a single title. Read about that decision HERE. Conventional wisdom says you need to look at three things if your book isn’t selling:

  1. The Story–is it the best it can be…and is it GOOD?
  2. The Title–does it capture the reader’s interest and does it fit the book?
  3. The Cover–does it grab the reader, compelling them to take a deeper look?


My Process

With my Book Magic series, I went through this about a year ago and again over the last few months. These books have never sold as well as they should based on the reviews (which are phenomenal…nearly everyone who reads these books loves them). I evaluated the stories and determined that, yes, they are good. Wonderful, in fact, if I do say so myself ☺️

  1. The Story ✅

Next, I looked at the titles. I was reluctant to change them at this point because they convey what the books are, but I do wonder if they fall a little short or if they could be better. In the end, I decided to leave them as is.

2. The Titles ✅

Finally, I looked at the covers. Below is the first iteration of the covers.


               The Secret on Rum Runner's Lane


Round Two


Now, I do really like these. They capture the “bookish” element of the series. They incorporate the rescue dog Pippin finds. But in the end, I decided they needed to change. Below is the next iteration of these covers. I worked with a different cover artist and she came up with a new concept that still incorporated torn pages and elements from each book. Again, I really like these and I think they appeal to both men and women, as does the book.




The Result


The books continued to get amazing reviews, but they also still didn’t sell like I wanted them to. I didn’t know if I should change them again, though. Some readers don’t like change and get attached to a series as it is, and I get that. But I am also a small business owner–Melissa Bourbon Books and WriterSpark Academy and Book Cover Design)–and in order to support myself, I need my books to sell.


Round Three


This led me to round three. Book covers can be costly, but I launched WriterSpark Book Cover design so I didn’t have to pay someone else to come up with designs I liked. Here is the thought process that led me to  to play around with some ideas.

First, I like domestic suspense and women’s fiction book, and if there is a quaint locale, a bookstore, a lovely house (exterior or interior) and/or books on the cover, I will immediately look at it.

Second, readers like me who gravitate toward a specific type of cover may not actually like either iteration of previous covers. And in a big way (this was an ah ha moment), I realized that

#1: I didn’t know if I would pick up these books based on the covers;

#2: Many of the books I read would be pretty decent comps for the Book Magic Series;

#3: I am missing an entire vast audience of readers like me because the covers probably don’t appeal to them.


This is what led me to really think about the broader audience and whose attention I wanted to capture. You’d think after sixteen+ years in the business that I’d have already known to really consider this, and I had…just not enough and not with a close enough view of my ideal reader. I lumped this series in with my cozy mysteries–focussing on the mystery (hence the titles) when I should have looked deeper at the story elements and realized the potential readership is much broader than my mystery audience.


I’ve been working on these new covers for days and finally landed on what I feel are covers that:


#1: Will grab the attention of readers who like bookish books and women’s fiction;

#2: Convey the darker elements (there is a 2000 year old curse that means the women in the Lane family die in childbirth and the men are swallowed by the sea) with the shadows;

#3: Convey elements of each story through the images, books, and color;

#3: Are covers that would appeal to me as a reader.


Here are the new covers:

Cover of Murder on Rum Runner's Lane, a Book Magic Mystery by Melissa Bourbon    Murder in Devil's Cove Cover by Melissa Bourbon, magical mystery    Murder at Sea Captain's Inn Cover by Melissa Bourbon, magical mystery    Murder through an Open Door Cover by Melissa Bourbon, magical mystery    Murder and an Irish Curse Cover by Melissa Bourbon, magical mystery


The Result


I’m excited to see the result of these new covers out in the world and connected to this series I love so much. As I said, it’s never an easy decision to change covers. I’ve loved each version. But I’ve learned that you sometimes have to change things up and test different ideas. Being an indie author (for this series) allows me the freedom to do this.


I’d love your opinion on the progression of covers and my thought process. How do you feel about changing covers and/or titles?