You've heard the saying, "never judge a book by its cover" but in the world of books that's exactly what many people do. It's that eye-catching title and cover that stands out on the shelf that makes a reader walk across the aisle of the store to investigate. The design, the colour, the picture and the font all play a part in capturing a potential reader. Even the texture and feel of the book can play a part.
But if you think it's just the front cover you have to worry about, think again. You've got them to walk across the aisle to pick up the book, but if the cover on the back of your book is not equally as captivating, they'll be putting it down and walking away.
For a fictional book, your "back blurb" should have the following elements:
As an example, the following is the back blurb on author Laurie Alice Eakes book, Lady in the Mist:
Terri Blackstock gets all these elements in a different format. Can you find them in this back blurb of Distortion?
A husband’s lies can have deadly consequences.
When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voice-mail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.
Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers’ demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband’s dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?
You've spent months (maybe years) on your book, now make it sell and give it the best possible cover you can. Which leads me to where you can go to get that great cover. If you are traditionally published you don't have to worry, as your publisher will have in-house designers. For self-publishers, I highly recommend 99 Designs. They did the cover for my latest book He Who Has an Ear and have done the covers for quite a few of my author friends as well.The best part is they are affordable!
Here's how it works - you tell them what your book is about, what you are looking for in the cover. This is where your writing skills pay off because you really want the designers to understand your vision. Within 24 hours you will have designs from various designers all over the world submitting you a cover idea. I paid for the bronze package (the lowest price). I was told that I would receive no more than 40 designs. I received 80! The books at the top of this page were just some of the designs. And boy was it hard to make a decision, but it was also fun. I was able to get my readers involved in the choice for my next cover by showing them my choices via a poll and they got to vote on their favourite.
Why do the designers do it? It's a competition. The winner gets the money with a percentage going to 99Designs. And you end up with a fantastic looking cover. The picture below was my winning design.
What About Non-Fiction Books?
Non-fiction books work the same way. Here is what I have on the back of my book.
More than two thousand years ago the Apostle John had a vision he received from the Lord. He was told to write seven letters to the churches of Asia Minor. Out of the seven churches only two received commendation from the Lord. The rest were letters of warning. Compromise and disobedience, combined with a lack of knowledge of the Word of God, has placed the 21st century church in a precarious situation. These letters to the seven churches are a message for this generation during these last days. He who has an ear will know what to do and act accordingly.
I have the introduction and purpose. The genre indicates it is about prophecy and that we will be looking at the Bible, so it covers eschatology and theology as well. I did not use any questions in the cover but it wasn't my choice. So, don't be afraid to use them. I had a few questions in my original draft, but because of the picture we used on the back I had to shorten things up in order to make room for my bio and picture. The summation on the back lets the reader know how important the letters in Revelation are to us today and hopefully will intrigue the reader enough to buy a copy.
One final thing you need to remember when designing your cover - don't neglect the spine of your book! Yes, the majority of people are buying online but there are still quite a few people who prefer "real" bookstores and holding the book in their hands before they make a decision. If you are lucky and your book is facing out on a bookshelf your cover will drag them in. However, not everyone is that lucky and you will probably have your book sitting on the shelf with its spine facing out. So make sure that title pops off the spine in big, bold letters.
Remember, you want to capture a reader's attention and you especially want to make a good impression on a reviewer, because they will consider your cover and its appeal in their final review. Put as much effort into it as you did into writing your book. A professional design says you care what your book looks like and it sends a message to reviewers and readers that the inside might be just as good as the outside!