Probably not, unless the book is an iconic bestseller with the kind of visual recognition status that makes it identifiable by sight to the masses. In most cases, an old book will need a fresh opportunity in the modern marketplace. That fresh opportunity will likely mean that you need to get a new cover and a new author photo. Give the work a fresh new start. That new start will also likely mean brushing up the description of the book with an eye toward why it is important for today’s readers. It could also include some current endorsements from people who resonate with the readers of the current year. That is not to say bury or drop old endorsements but be aware that younger readers may not know who past icons are, especially if those icons are no longer active or no longer living. Leverage everything you have available to make the cover stand out on digital platforms. Look at the product with new eyes and new expectations.
I love makeovers! Not only do I have forty books on my backlist, and all have had cover makeovers, but the author has too. Nope, I didn’t go under the knife, I just changed and grew with the times. Fashions change, the way books are viewed has changed, delivery methods have changed. Today your covers need to pop as thumbnails online in an ever-more crowded field, so give your work every advantage. Embrace marketplace changes. Have fun. Enjoy the process. If there are elements of the original covers you love keep them, but make them fresh (are you even sure you have the rights to the artwork?) I say go for it. I say go for it!
I’m going to assume (yikes! Danger Will Rogers) that by “old” you mean the book was first released at least 3 years ago. Yes, refresh, re-boot, revise, re-work that cover.
We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. I think that is a cosmic fallacy right up there with ‘one size fits all’. An enticing cover draws me in — at least enough to read the blurb. With an Indie release a good cover says something about the author. It speaks of quality and suggests a promising story. In fact, I bought my two most favorite novels on the basis of the cover.
Take a good look at the covers of books in your genre and the ratings each has received. That will give you an idea of what sort of imagery is selling. Is it a literal graphic depiction or more impressionistic? Consider what is selling. Go from there.
If the original release was highly successful and you feel the cover was a part of that, you could simply update the original look. Covers are like fashion — ever changing and then rolling around to a previous era, only with a ‘modern’ sensibility. One has only to look at the original Agatha Christie covers and those on offer today to see that.
Give your cover design the attention it deserves
It depends on the rights and cover quality. If the publisher paid for the cover, then they likely own the rights. Sometimes the artist will withhold the right to re-sell certain designs or use them as they see fit. It really depends on the deal originally made. If the cover is very good, this is worth pursuing. If it’s even half-average, I’d plump for a new cover to be safe. Just so happens I know a designer…
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