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Input Wanted: After-the-Fact Procedures

Hi y’all,

Wanted your input on this.  A particular author, who has had both an original cover and a resubmit featured on here, now wants me to redact the title from the post so that it won’t interfere with her search engine optimization. (Her original response was that I remove the posts entirely, but I pointed out that part of the purpose of is to allow other indie publishers to learn from the examples and discussion here.)

What do you think?  Should I be open to that kind of after-the-fact revision?


  1. I can see that having SE results diverted by a critical discussion would be frustrating during marketing campaigns.
    But I also understand that such editing work could suck YOU into an endless administration void that would help neither you or the people you are trying to help here. Result could be burnout, and we would no longer benefit from your expertise.
    I say, if the book is good and their marketing is effective, it will soon overwhelm any negative effects from these pages. They can’t have it both ways, especially for a free service.

  2. I think… she knew what would happen when she submitted – didn’t she?

    That said, I also think it would be kind to remove old posts if/when someone requests it. Should it be expected? No, but it would be a kindness.

    Whatever you decide, people submit knowing full well what they’re getting into.

  3. Don’t do it, Nathan. You offer high quality advice in this area for FREE and deserve the recognition you get for it. Second, the author submitted the work to your site. I would politely suggest the work on improving the SEO for their website if it’s there own site they’re searching. If not, then the site(s) selling the book needs better SEO.

    I think it’s unreasonable for you to disrupt this fine site just because this author isn’t seeming the Google rank he or she aspires to.

    Don’t do it, Nathan. I wouldn’t, and, let,’s face it, I’m never wrong, amirite? 😋

  4. Personally, I get a lot of traffic to my webpage coming directly from this site, and even sales, and I wouldn’t want you to take down my posts!

    It’s also never been at the top when I do a search, Amazon and my own webpage come first in the optimization patterns – for me at least.

    Something for the author to consider. Everywhere you are is one more entry point. Every entry point can get you noticed. If it is here, or if it is on any other site. The more places you are, (that are not horrible places) the better.

  5. I agree with those who urge you to leave the post up. You’re offering a very valuable service for free, with the understanding (at least, in my view) that whatever a submitter posts will be in public view until the heat death of the universe.

    As an author, I feel no shame in someone seeing the process of getting a decent cover onto my book. As others have posted, too, an entry point in an entry point. If a potential reader is interested after coming here, they’ll be able to more easily search for my book on the online sellers’ sites. If my submission here comes up on a web search, then hurrah for me and thee. We both have upped our web presence!

  6. I don’t think you should pull the post down, BUT she has a point. I know it’s a ton of work, but rather than using the book titles as the post title, why not change to a numbering convention like QueryShark does?

  7. Your site and your choice, but speaking personally as an author, I would want you to do it.

    As a beginning writer, you start off with no audience and it’s easy to put potentially unflattering stuff all over the internet because no one is looking you up anyway. Cover Critics is the second result for my title. Since I’m with a big publisher, it’ll get pushed down the rankings as we release promotional materials. But if you’re self-pubbing and don’t have a big audience yet, this site could stay at the top of the results and be hard to dislodge. If your original cover was a real mess, that would be very awkward.

  8. I’d say do it this time, but put a note on the submit page that this is a concern people may have and refuse to do it in the future. (I’m biased, though, in that any talk of SEO makes my eyes roll so far I see the back of my head.)

  9. A suggestion:
    Why not put it out there that authors submit their final cover when they publish, not for critique, but as a record of the process? It could include a link to the book on Amazon (or wherever.) This way, the latest information would be there for anyone who happened across this site while searching. Maybe that’s what it means to turn “lemons into lemonade.”

  10. I’m not sure about the feasibility of this, but might it be possible to merge the author’s posts into one and place the final cover at the top? If that could be done, it seems to me that would be beneficial for all concerned parties; the covers and their revisions are often published months apart, and having the entire process laid out before us in one post would be a way to give the author free publicity, give the critics an overview of how their comments affected the results, and give our generous host a free testimonial plug for the site: “Another satisfied customer at Cover Critics!”

  11. I would like to thing that no one would be embarrassed for putting their work on this site to seek advice. To me it shows how dedicated an author is and how serious they take their novel. The fact they worked hard to make their cover the best it could be would tell me a lot about the quality of work in their novel. If this author is truly only worried about the search engine recommending this site over their own website I would think their Amazon book page would lead the list and if that is not the case that’s a whole other issue that has nothing to do with this site. If you remove it be prepared to remove more.

  12. I think you shouldn’t remove the title. You are offering this service for free (which is great by the way) and she did know what she was getting into when submitting. In my experience, my website always comes first before this site when I search for it, and having more promotional material would very likely push Cover Critics down the line when searching. I suggest you merge the two posts so any new visitor to your site can see how a cover can develop from a bad one to a good one, especially with your help.

  13. Hmmmph.

    Well, firstly, before I add my $.02, I do want to second Will’s suggestion; that seems a best of both worlds scenario.

    I’m surprised that anyone would request it, to be honest. I mean, it seems ever-so-slightly ungracious. After all–people here, as well as you, gave freely of their time and expertise. That’s all the site agrees to provide. None of us, you included, charge, other than advertising fees or whatever it is you earn from this. The requestor received that free advice, presumably willingly. Not once; twice.

    While adopting Will’s suggestion would (hopefully) fend off this type of request in the future, it’s not like this is LBC. Nobody picked her cover from some list of dreadful covers; she came here for assistance–which, I’d hope, she received.

    Is this site so high in PR that it would actually outweigh other, more relevant search results? I have to confess that I don’t test those things–how my name shows up in Goog, etc. I know all too well how difficult conquering Google search results are, for businesses; and a book is a business. But I should think that Amazon, Apple, B&N, Smashwords, KoboBooks, and her own author’s website would come a heck of a lot earlier in the results than CC. Is that not correct?

  14. I’m going to answer obliquely, first by quoting Proverbs Chapter 9:

    8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

    9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

    Secondly, by posting a song:

  15. After reading all of this:

    Personally, I think you should just remove it.
    – It is the polite thing to do.
    – They asked you to and it is their book.
    – I don’t really think it sets up a dangerous precedent for this happening again. This is an isolated incident and I don’t think it will really come up that often.

    Alternately, you could set up a special post if they agree. Putting the better cover on the top, and the steps that happened before then. It could be a ‘Check out the results’ idea for your hotbar.

  16. To be fair, this site doesn’t give any indication that these covers are here to stay permanently even after a request for removal. At least not officially. (Just looking at the “submitting a cover for critique” tab– be involved, submit a jpg, paragraph, shut up. Nothing about removing covers.) Maybe this is common knowledge, but when you’ve got clueless authors + nothing concrete and explicit in writing, things can get iffy. Janet Reid on Queryshark has the disclaimer “By submitting this query, I agree it may be posted and critiqued on the QueryShark blog and included in the archives for the life of the blog.” but I don’t see anything similar on this site (unless there’s some secret clause I can’t find?), so you might consider adding that in the future.

    And maybe I’m hopelessly naive about the finer points of website management, but I also have a blog (a one, not a self-hosted one so that might be different), and deleting or editing a post is literally one click of a button and some typing for the latter. Unless you’re crazily cross-linking everything, which you don’t seem to be doing, it shouldn’t be a ton of work. Might as well just do it and save some headache for both of you.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. I read your comment, Kitty, and while it makes sense, I suppose, from the perspective of someone who doesn’t run a website, it does seem unusual around typical website management. How many sites exist where owners go through and remove content from their archives, or even simply older posts? Not many. After all, Google rewards sites that have a LOT of content. Google rewards the site with higher organic search rankings, and the site reaps those rewards by page views (against advertising). Yes, there are many other factors in SEO, but, depth of content is certainly one of them.

      BUT…I guess that there isn’t anything cut-and-dried, B&W about it. I’m sure that Nathan will come to his own best decision.

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