Friday, August 14, 2009

Tips for Authors - Back Cover Design

You've no doubt heard that the cover of your book must sell the book. It should grab the reader quickly and make him/her want to purchase the book. While most attention on design is directed to the front cover, DO NOT forget the back cover! Next to the front cover, it is probably the most important element of your book that will convince your audience to pick up the book. As reviewers, we've seen plenty of good designs and also some that actually "unsell" a book. Here are some suggestions on what to do/not do with that back cover, taken from actual covers of books we've reviewed.
  • DO NOT - use the entire back cover to talk about what a great writer you are, particularly if you are an unknown author.
  • DO NOT - mention the writing award you received in third grade (yes, this was on a back cover!).
  • DO NOT - start the book description with phrases such as, "the greatest book on..." "the new blockbuster..." "destined to be a classic..." "the incredible new story on..." etc. Yes, you want to promote your book but if you get carried away with such exaggerations, the only person who might believe you is your mother.
  • DO NOT - use the entire back cover to describe the topic of your book. You should be able to do it in one or two short paragraphs. Shoppers will lose interest before getting to the bottom of the text and move on to the next book.
  • DO NOT - have typos anywhere on that cover! Obviously, you don't want any typos in the book, inside or out. We've seen plenty of books with several typos on the back cover. Consider it one easy way to lose sales!
  • DO NOT - include a picture that overshadows the text and makes it hard to read.
  • DO NOT - use hard to read fonts or text that is extremely small. Remember the 40+ crowd doesn't like to squint at text.
  • DO - include at least one quote from a well-known person in your book's field. Getting a top notch quote can sell a lot of books.
  • Do - include a brief bio on the author
  • Do - include a succinct plot overview - this is perhaps the most important part of the back cover. You need to draw the reader into the story/text, convey the need to read the book, without giving away the ending.