The Dangers of Using Automatic Book Cover Generators

The Dangers of Using Automatic Book Cover Generators

Some firms offer automatic book cover generators for print books and ebooks. However, that is probably NOT the option you want to use for your book. Why?


The reason many of these firms offer cover generators is not because they have good hearts. Heck no! On the contrary, it’s all about control. If you use their cover generator, they will probably own all rights to your cover. And, they’re not likely to allow you to use that cover if you plan to sell your book elsewhere, including on your own website. We call this a forced marriage.

One publisher using such a cover generator was pretty surprised when we notified them that bloggers were encouraging authors to use that site’s “free” cover generator to create covers that would be printed by other firms. The POD publisher made it quite clear that the covers could ONLY be used on books THEY publish. They even asked us for a list of bloggers who were telling authors otherwise. (Of course, we told them to do their own research!) Why did they want that information? We suspect they were going to force those bloggers to turn their articles about the cover generators into advertisements for that publisher’s services. And, if the publisher gets really desperate, they can start threatening legal action against authors who used their cover generator, and who then took those covers to another publisher. Any author who has done this could indeed face a future lawsuit.

That publisher also pointed out the clause in their contract that prohibits authors from using those covers at any other site. Unfortunately, most folks don’t read the “contract” or “user agreement” when they go to a website offering a “free” tool.

Why use a cover that can only be used at one bookseller or publisher? “Free” may seem tempting but “free” in exchange for someone else owning your prized cover, the face of your book, is not likely a trade you want to make.


Many cover generators simply generate template covers so they all come out looking pretty much the same. There’s no guarantee that another author’s cover isn’t going to turn out looking almost exactly like yours. That can be very embarrassing for an author.

One of our BookLocker authors submitted a pre-designed cover for his first book. The background image was an unusual photograph that was easy to remember. A few weeks later, I saw the exact same image on another book cover on Amazon. The author had been duped into thinking his cover was “original.” And, of course, he’d violated that other firm’s contract by using their cover generator to create a cover that he’d planned to use at a far less expensive POD publisher. When he learned his cover wasn’t original at all, he immediately took his book off the market, and had a different cover designed, one that was indeed completely original, and it only cost him $200. He now owns ALL rights to his cover and he no longer has to worry about a firm suing him for using their “free” cover generator.


It’s no secret that most of these firms make things look “free” and “easy” up front in their advertising materials. But, once you get into the meat of their specs, and use their software, you may find yourself pulling your hair out in frustration. This is what some of those firms count on. We call it the old bait and switch. Once you express dismay and frustration, they generously offer to finish the process for you…for a few hundred (or thousand) dollars. Some authors are already so deep in the process by then that they will pay any price to rid themselves of the ongoing, time-wasting headache.


Some firms may lead you to believe their cover generator is “free,” but don’t tell you that their other services are so ridiculously expensive that they’ll wipe out any perceived “savings” you thought you’d receive by using their cover generator.


Readers really do judge a book by its cover. An original, high-quality cover design really can sell a book. You owe it to yourself, to your story, and to your readers to have a professional, original cover design that will attract readers, catching their eye before they even notice the title. And, you owe it to yourself to retain ALL rights to your cover design in case you want to move to another publisher or printer in the future.

And, you definitely don’t want your book cover to look almost identical to several other books on the market!


Unfortunately, many POD publishers, even those that offer original cover design, take all rights to the covers AUTHORS PAID THEM to design. It’s a deplorable, greedy practice that forces authors to stay with a publisher, even if they are no longer happy with that publisher’s services. If an author can’t afford a new cover design, they can’t afford to move to a different publisher. There’s that “forced marriage” scenario again! authors own ALL RIGHTS to their files, including the production files. BookLocker is one of the only POD publishers that allows authors to retain all rights to their files.

Always read the fine print in contracts, whether it’s a publishing contract, or a “user agreement” offered by a website with a so-called “free” tool. If you’re paying to have your book published, NEVER allow anyone else to own any part of YOUR book!

Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of, the President and CEO of and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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