Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Help Me Choose a Cover For My Next Book

For the past several months, I’ve been busy finishing my next book, and my publisher recently sent me two potential covers. I’d love to get your feedback on them.

The book is called The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.

It’s a book about calling and finding the work you were meant to do, and it’s full of inspiring stories and practical application that will move you in the direction of your life’s work.

Here are mockups of the two cover choices. Please take just a second and choose your favorite in the survey below.

Concept #1


Concept #2


What do you think makes for a good book cover? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Becky Joyce Reed

    I like color, but #1 is crisp, clean and eye catching. I noted fuzzy jammies’ idea about a crinkled paper airplane and REALLY like that thought! I’m 61 and still on a path of finding what I was meant to do. I look forward to your new book’s release! A friend introduced me to your writings and I am impressed by the sharing of wisdom, of course, but especially with the easy air of conversation. Thank you for your thoughts and energies.

  • Lisa Caldwell

    #1 for me – I think it would appeal to both men and women. It does look like a business book. If you’re also planning on releasing it to the UK market yellow paper means nothing to us!

  • Guest

    Definitely #1. It’s way better from a professional design standpoint. The other one looks like a homemade project.

  • Kate Kerouac

    Definitely #1 from a professional standpoint. The 2nd one looks like a homemade project.

  • Jay Hohfeler

    I would bet #1 appeals to men and #2 appeals more to women. It would be interesting to tie your survey results to gender. The paper airplane, for men, associates imagination and play while thinking. As boys we did that while thinking about something else. That’s why it’s apt.

    Cover #2 was somewhat repulsive (from a man’s view) when seeing the word ART with emanating squiggly lines that took up half the surface. We don’t relate even though those tailing swirls are probably meant to connote imaginative thinking. But it reminds me of rambling. The red cover just makes it a bit irritating. All that sounds more intense than I mean it but, directionally, that’s my reaction.

    • Thanks, Jay!

    • Rachel

      Is misogyny something one has to work at or is it an art? (repulsive and rambling gave it away).

  • Karla Rivera

    I like Concept #1 because it’s more cheerful, bright. It calls more my attention than the orange (it also gives it a modern feel to it). I’m a woman, by the way, @Jay Hohfeler

  • davegudgel


  • Jennifer Dougan

    Hi Jeff,

    I get your emails all the time but only stop by to comment every once in a while. I’d pick the white background with the airplane, for its more whimsical look without the curlycue feel. The white background and crisp clip-art airplane seem like they would appeal to both a masculine and feminine audience, whereas the red and twirls-look seems more feminine and to a smaller art niche.

    Have fun! Congrats on the new book coming out.

    How old is your son now? Are you and your wife getting consistent sleep through the night now with his sleeping, or not yet? That was always the hardest part for my husband and I. Sleep deprivation is brutal. 🙂

    Jennifer Dougan

  • Penelope Silvers

    Definitely #1. Clean look, and the yellow airplane draws your eye right to the title. The words on the other page get lost in all that color.

  • Hi Jeff,
    A big congrats on your soon-to-be -published book. I also hope to be called an author someday.
    In my opinion, the first cover with the white background is preferable.
    I look forward to learning from your book when it’s eventually released.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Keith Jennings

    Neither option embodies the book, in my opinion. The paper airplane image seems the antithesis of the stories you’ve written. Should we toss our work life into the wind and see where it lands? And the second option feels too close in design to Good to Great or Made to Stick.

    I have read the comments suggesting a consistency in look and feel among your books, but I think that works best if it’s a series or built on a common theme — like Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God collection. None of Dan Pink or Seth Godin’s books look the same. Which helps each book stand on its own. Gives each its own personality built on the topic, not the author. Then again, Gladwell’s doing okay going the consistency route.

    Regardless, readers are going to love the stories and conversation starters in this book. It’ll do just fine with or without a cover! The main question I’m asking is this: Do either of these covers embody and communicate the theme of the book?

  • As a graphic designer I have always thought concept is most important. the paper plane sends a message of taking flight, launching and soaring. As you are a writer I love the that plane is made out of a sheet of yellow writing paper. The concept is GREAT! I do not see it as aimlessly throwing an idea into the wind as the previous comment mentioned. I hope that helps.

  • L Tremblay

    I think both are strong covers. I like the clean a crisp lines of #1 and the white background. But you know, it feels like I’ve seen it before; the paper airplane is a bit cliche IMO, especially for a business book/writing book. I like the red one because it feels different, new…like there might be something in there I haven’t considered before. Would changing the red background to a different color, (or white), make it seem sharper, like #1? Don’t know.

    From a marketing perspective, I think #1 will appeal to more people.

  • Dan Erickson

    #1 all the way.

  • jeffcalloway

    Both are simple. The simplier the better – #1


  • Love Cover #1 Jeff – to me it feels more like ‘breathless wonder’ … which is a wonderful feeling to have when you read a great book 🙂

  • I think the white one has more marketing value as it’s much easier to read the Title

  • sandi

    I am an artsy type of person, so I enjoy the Creative A with the swirls. It depends what type of reader you are trying to appeal to with the cover. The business writer type might go for the white. The person who is artsy and wants to know how to expand their creativity into life might be drawn to the Creative A and the swirls. It depends on the book content and how it is presented.

  • Kathy Strong

    #1 without a doubt!

  • I like #2 because it stands out.

  • Nicco Cobb

    Hey Jeff! While I really like the artwork and layout of the first choice, I worry that white will just get lost in the sea of other white books. To set it apart and pump up the appeal I would suggest a pale blue background. Blue is the thinkers color and calms people. Easier on the eyes and has just a real positive feel. Whatever you choose, I’ll buy it anyway.

    • Ashley N

      Ooh, I love this idea!

  • Grace Sng

    I like the paper plane concept giving it a twist and it’s a nice crisp and clean cover however it may be less appealing to the artsy side. The red is nice artsy however it seems too artsy for the word “work” unless you are writing about work being the unconventional, creative process and something expressive… which may then be less appealing to business professional types. I’d read the book regardless of it’s cover mainly because of the tag line about “discovering what you were meant to do” 🙂

  • Ashley N

    Thanks for asking! 🙂

  • Helen Tilbury

    1 is much slicker, modern
    & professional looking. I’d definitely want to buy it! The red is horrid and the text is unclear. Rather horrifying. Sorry!

  • Sandra Stiles

    #1 looks very professional. #2 is difficult to read. The Orange/red is distracting.

  • #1 all the way. I like how’s the airplane is taking flight. There’s an art to a great paper airplane.

  • Fran

    I pick #2, the red one. First, it will shine out from the bookstore shelves. Second, I like the way the word “Art” is artsy. Third, it seems less like a generic “how-to” book, esp for people who resist being directly told “how to” do something. It’s more user-friendly and eye catching.

  • The yellow and blue one doesn’t work for me. If we were to change the yellow to white (with cool colors for its shading, as opposed to pure grey) then it might work. But as it stands, it looks circa 1980s.

  • David J Delaney

    The white cover stands out more. The words seems to be a stronger image

  • Mireille

    I don’t think either of them are indicative of you or your writing style, #1 I find boring, #2 I feel I will find designs of old and antiquated picture frames inside. Neither of these covers would encourage me to pick the book up.

    I find your writing engaging as you communicate with your audience at a personal level. This is refreshing, I never feel as if I am reading an article but rather that I am conversing with someone in an open and friendly dialogue.

    Have you thought of using richer colours e.g. Purples, deep blues, a deeper red, burnt orange or even a flow of colour/s. Maybe use a more modern and up to date font and does the title have to start with “The”, could it simply read”Art of Work”? Simpler and more catchy.

    Jeff, I don’t believe that either of these two covers do your writing any justice and I don’t think they will appeal to or attract the younger and trendier audience.

    • Douglas R

      Mireille I am right with you on that. Neither of the two covers fit.

  • Anita Dawes

    Love the red one Jeff, more punchy!

  • Barbara

    I prefer the white cover. The idea of a plane taking off gives the right message. Reminds me of What Colour is your Parachute.by Richard Bolles. Just checked. He sold over 10 million copies. I wish you as much luck with yours and look forward to reading it. Although I prefer the white cover, I would like it to be a bit more spunky. Perhaps you could do that with colour or different fonts. You have a jump start on the rest of us though, judging by all these comments.

  • Andreau P Eem

    It catches my eyes for me the paper plane which is the concept #1.If I can do suggest to change the color of the plane to white and the background is red. Maybe? 🙂 Well, your name captured of so many, and cover for me is a first attraction and pulls you to it. Then, i turn it over and read the back. ;)♡

  • I like the red one, although looks more like orange to me. The reason I chose this one is the colour and the arty layout.

  • karen

    The color attracted me to the second book. Next I looked at the design. For this writer, I would definitely pick up the second book, the first cover will blend in with the others. Good luck!

  • Pedro Hernandez

    I prefer the design with the paper plane

  • Jo Oakes

    As a Graphic Designer it’s no surprise to find that the best cover is probably a combo of both. However, I’m also guessing that these are the final two options. I’d go with the red book. The ART is communicated in the actual hand-drawn lettering whereas the paper airplane has little to do with art and more to do with things we do when we’re bored [ which has very little to do with getting any sort of work done ].

    If you have time to do a quick change I would consider simply changing the red color to something less aggressive [ perhaps having the cover BE a simple sheet of lined paper with the lettering hand-written onto it ]. The title-to-color disparity sets me off a bit. 😉

    Best of luck!

    • Jo Oakes

      Or simply change the black of the hand-lettering to white. Or make the red a blackboard and the lettering chalk [ with erased smudges behind as if work were being done ]. 😉

    • Jen McGahan

      Jo, I agree with you. Was thinking almost exactly the same thing. But I’m afraid we complicate things for poor Jeff. 🙂 Is that a girl thing, or what?

      • Jo Oakes

        With guys and gals all over the opinion scale I’d say it’s a human thing. 😉
        It is interesting to read everyone’s opinions and see how much variance there is in how people perceive visual communication, especially considering that most, if not all, of us here are aspiring written-word communicators. 🙂

        • I agree. It’s interesting! Will be tough to make the final call.

  • Marina Bromley

    I’d say the red one will appeal to more women, the white to more men…

  • Ron

    I love the ‘purity’ of the first, the cleanliness and directness. Against what you are endeavouring to achieve – “go with YOUR gut instinct”. Ron

  • Lin

    No contest! Concept 1 literally jumped off the page and looked clean and concise. That’s like something you would have chosen. IMHO
    Concept 2 looked too frilly and feminine, that doesn’t speak to me about work.
    Everyone else chooses a bright color, so white will stand out and look more serious.

  • Todd K Marsha

    Just because the title is The Art of Work doesn’t necessarily mean the cover art has to be a play on the words Art and Work. That being said, I voted for #1. The white cover and dark lettering popped more than the red cover. Red would draw more attention but they didn’t do a good job with the word “Art”. It doesn’t stand out as it should.

  • Katie

    Cover 1 – I liked the white background only, it made the rest of the cover stand out. However, I did not understand the link between a paper aeroplane and the book title / concept. I think someone has already mentioned this, but I relate paper aeroplanes to procrastination e.g. not getting any work done.

    Cover 2 – I like the red background on this and the lettering. The design of the word ART links to the word itself. I do tend to agree that the way it has been done however, does not help it stand out very well (especially against a red background).

    I have gone for cover 2 in my vote. Although if you have the option to ask your design guys to do something different – maybe try the design / font of cover 2 on a white background. The wording THE, OF & WORK in black, the word ART in red and the wording “A proven path…” etc in black. Just a thought.

  • Honestly, I like them both, but I ended up going with the second one. (I’ve always been partial to red.) Plus, the first one is quite similar to the cover of a previous book you wrote and I think it’d be nice to have something different. 🙂

  • I voted for#1, not sure why. 2 seemed a bit fussy.

  • Love the first choice and the book sounds good Jeff.

  • Shannon @nwaMotherlode.com

    #1. Love it!

  • Emi

    The first one definitely

  • Phumuzile M.

    Jeff I love the white one’It depend if you favour bright colours it is okay with the second one’ but definitely the white one stand alone it has dignity’Just use the second Art symbol instead of the aeroplane; in the first one..

  • Jessica Stone

    Geesh, this is hard – it’s like logic mind versus creative mind!

  • Both are great and represent the concept well. Kudos to the cover designers! (Personally #1 connects more powerfully with me.)

  • Chris

    Concept #1

  • Edhz Baltazar

    Concept #1 makes more sense for your branding as it reminds me of your other book, The In-Between (which I also have). It’s clean and fresh. I think the use of the paper plane to symbolize art and mode of transport to get to your destined path is a genius idea! Concept # 2 seems a bit cliche.

  • Paul D. Johnson

    Concept #1 – The subject is about the Art of Work, not about Art Work. I can envision structure, purpose, process, design, construction, natural laws, chance, potential, energy and more communicated best with Concept #1. It will have a much wider appeal. Best wishes.

  • Sam

    Concept #1 for sure … If what you were publishing were fiction I would have gone with Concept #2

  • Alex Oriani

    Concept #2 is creative and artistic but more suitable for fiction than for an inspirational business book. Hence, I’d go with concept #1.

  • Jamie bickle

    The first concept hits your target audience, especially males. Visually, as a female, I prefer the second concept. I would purchase #2.

  • Sanna Haynes

    I wish 1 and 2 were combined — if #2 had a white background.

  • Della

    I voted for #2 because I don’t understand the paper airplane and I felt #1 was more masculine. I don’t care for the red background on the second choice however. I also liked the font on the first choice better. I wish you could mix the two concepts (minus the airplane) and use a white or light colored background. Looking forward to reading this!

  • venkyiyer58

    A good cover is one that catches your eye immedaitely and makes you nod in appreciation, like the white one above. A bad cover is one that may catch your eye immediately and make you frown, like the red one above.

  • Danny Kofke

    I like number 1. Congrats on another book Jeff!

  • I like #1 because it reminds me of your other book covers. The white space with that font with the really sharp image is your thing.

  • #1. Just by looking at it I know it’s your work. Consistent with your other books and your brand.

  • #1! It has the white space and breathing room that is your style. LOVE it!

  • K. Y. Lee

    1 : color is good and simple but design…I can’t understand the meaning of yellow paper airplane
    2 : letters makes me dizzy. How about change the location of them?

  • Most definitely #1. Clean and strong.

  • Ann

    Paper airplane! It’s art, and it’s going somewhere.

  • Erika

    The red one! It’s eye-catching and, as someone mentioned below and the word “art” is arty-looking. That’s the kind of cover that draws me in. The first cover is nice and simple, but it seems too business-like.

  • Torissa Nikole

    I feel like the first has the boldest message. To me, the simplest one always looks better on shelf.