We’ve all heard the age-old saying “never judge a book by its cover.” While that remains an honorable goal to strive for, realistically it can be hard to follow, especially with books. Just like with people, a book cover often only has one chance to make a first impression. If someone walks up to a book cover that is plain, boring, and lifeless, there’s a good possibility that they won’t even pick it up. Even if that book is thrilling, full of adventures, or jam-packed with romance, the book cover has in no way demonstrated that. A book cover should grab the reader’s attention.
The book cover should clearly connect the title to the image and the plot. Your audience wants to know what it says, what it means, and what it’s about. Readers are looking for some kind of benefit: nonfiction readers want to learn, self-help readers seek improvement, and novel readers desire emotional satisfaction. Decide on your target audience, and design your cover accordingly. With a book cover, your goal should be to create that initial spark of curiosity that causes potential readers to pick it up: it needs to be distinctive, interesting and genre-specific.The second impression comes when they turn the book over.
Many people think that if you have an enticing book cover your work is done. With some book browsers this may be true, but for others it takes a bit more than an appealing cover for them to become actual book buyers. The back cover description is what takes that spark of curiosity and transform it into a full-out fire! The back cover of a book is the first verbal line of communication that a book has with an audience, so it’s crucial that it hooks the reader.
The first few lines on the back of a book, before the book description, are what we in the publishing industry refer to as a sales handle. This is where you explain what your book is about and why it’s unique and worth reading. It goes without saying that since this is the first thing book browsers are going to read, it needs to grab their attention. Here’s an example from one of our authors:
From Cancer Sucks: A True Story by David Yates
“If lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, what are the odds that cancer would strike David Yates three times - and he would survive?"
Pretty good, huh? Next comes the actual back cover copy. The content of this section differs for fiction and nonfiction books, but essentially, its main goal is to prove why readers should purchase the book. For fiction books, you should give just enough of your plot away to hook the reader, to convince the reader to give your book a chance. Give away too little, and your reader will leave confused; give too much away, however, and your potential reader may decide your book isn't worth the read (no spoilers!). For nonfiction books, you want to tell your reader as much as possible about your subject, in the most interesting way possible. Prove to your readers why your book is different from or superior to other books with similar subjects. Book genre notwithstanding, you want to do as much as you can to move your audience in the direction of purchase!
Mill City Press offers both book cover design and back cover copy services for our authors. In fact, every publishing package includes a custom book cover designed by one of our fantastic in-house designers! All of these covers are completely original, both front and back, and you own all of the rights to all of your designs. We work with our authors to make revisions so that the covers best meet the author’s vision. Check out some of Mill City Press’s book cover designs and back cover copies!
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