Your book’s cover reveal is one of your first chances to build buzz for your upcoming project. In this article, we go over the ins and outs of what makes a successful cover reveal.
We first detailed cover reveals in the 2014 Author Newsletter article The Art of the Cover Reveal. A lot of that article still holds up today, though the main players in the cover reveal arena may have changed slightly. As always, if you’re interested in hosting a cover reveal, discuss this with your publishing team early, so you can find the right plan for you and your book.
In this 2021 update, we’d like to go into deeper detail about the types of cover reveals out there now, some pros and cons of each, and what steps you’ll need to take to set up or promote each.
Social Media Cover Reveals
This is the most common type of cover reveal, and for good reason! Social media is the easiest way for you to reach readers, author colleagues, and industry professionals, so it’s the most obvious place to celebrate your new cover.
To set up your own social media cover reveal, you’ll need: 1) a high-resolution version of your cover or designed images at the correct specs for social media, 2) interesting copy describing the book and why readers should check it out, and 3) buy links and/or a link to your website. Remember, you can always link to your book’s page on penguinrandomhouse.com, which will have links to all retailers!
It’s important to give credit to the cover illustrator and designer in your social media posts, tagging them when appropriate, as a lot of readers want to learn more about who created the work of art that is your cover. If character counts permit, consider also tagging your publisher’s social media accounts, your agency, or anyone else associated with the book who would want to boost the post.
If you’re planning a social media cover reveal, consider giving an advance heads-up to some of your author colleagues and industry friends, so everyone knows to look out for it and boost right away.
Blog or Media Website Reveals
Often the showiest of the cover reveal options, blog or traditional media website reveals are a great option for someone who wants to build a lot of buzz with a specific audience. These reveals are often set up by your publicity team—though they are becoming rarer, as they’re not a great fit for every book or author and they take a great deal of effort from all parties to set up.
These reveals are often paired with an excerpt or a Q&A to further drive an exclusive experience for those who visit the website. A great recent example of this kind of reveal is the Entertainment Weekly article that debuted the cover of Chang-rae Lee’s new novel, My Year Abroad. The piece included a Q&A with Lee where he discusses the book, its cover, and his writing process. If you’re planning a reveal like this, make sure you provide the reporter or blogger with everything they need, and confirm that buy links, links to your social media, and the illustrator/designer credit will appear in the article.
Often, these websites will ask for exclusive cover access on the day the article is published. If that’s the case, be careful not to share the full cover on social media or other places—you want to make sure all the attention is on the website that’s hosting the reveal.
Beyond that, you’ll want to think about your social media strategy when planning one of these reveals. Share the article as soon as it goes up, to direct readers to the website and give them an opportunity to boost the post, as well as give your fans a way to share their excitement directly with you in a reply—a win-win situation all around!
A new type of social media cover reveal, the influencer reveal, gives authors a chance to extend their reach and partner with key influencers in the bookish space—although these reveals can take a lot of energy to coordinate. Successful influencer reveals have included bloggers, bookstagrammers, and even social media accounts from independent bookstores all coming together to reveal the cover of a highly anticipated book at the same time. One example of this is how Penguin Teen reached out to bloggers and bookstagrammers to launch the cover of Arvin Ahmadi’s How it All Blew Up.
To set up one of these, you’ll need strong connections with the bookish community, whether through your publishing team or on your own. (If this is something you’re setting up on your own, keep your publishing team in the loop along the way.) Once you get a group of influencers to agree to host the reveal, you’ll need to send them all the same assets: 1) a high-resolution cover placed into images sized for Instagram, Twitter, etc., as relevant, 2) sample social media copy, and 3) cover copy with buy links, so their followers can learn more about you.
However you celebrate the launch of your next great cover, the point of a cover reveal is to delight your current fans and reach new readers, so keep that in mind as you plan for the big day. After the reveal, there will be many more chances to build buzz for your new book, so as with any social media campaign, take time to learn from this experience and find out what works for your followers—and, at the end of the day, have fun with it!
Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Author Platforms & Publishing Development for Penguin Random House