“You Can’t Always Tell a Book by its Cover” As Authors, We Need Our Covers to be As Professional As Our Writing!

We dream about seeing our first book in print after all the hard work is done, and that excitement never goes away, no matter how many books we pour our hearts and souls into: The writing, the rewriting, the editing, the changes, the errors, the proofreading, and hopefully, catching every minute detail before it goes to print! But what about the cover?
 Who Would Pick Up a Blank Book Cover to Read?
 Who would pick up a book with a blank cover to read?
Maybe you should be thinking about the cover while you’re writing?
Here are some tips on covers:
  • What looks good in hardcopy print, usually 6×9 inches, can be much more detailed than an eBook because it is seen full-size on glossy or equally professional cover stock, which a reader can touch, hold, caress. You have space for a beautiful photo, drawing, illustration, or in my example below an oil painting, which was done by my mother, a professional artist, specifically for this novel.
  • The full cover in print has three sections: The eye-catching front cover, a spine with the title and publisher, and a back cover; all in one piece to wrap around the book. You may notice on the example below, the graphic artist who did this cover for me matched the color of the sky in the oil painting to “bleed” to the edges of the cover and continue across the spine to the back of the book. Nice consistency. The deep shadow of the title, of course, carries the theme of the words themselves. The back cover in my case was used for a full synopsis written by my editor, not by me. I did put a personal quote of my own next to my picture in what I call poetic prose. I love the mystique of language, and it can capture a reader’s attention.
  • The back cover can also be  used for testimonials about the book by editors, news releases, promotional material, or in the case of nonfiction, a specialist in the same field of endeavor. I want to emphasize here that even though I am also an editor/cover designer/publisher, it’s best not to do your own editing, design, and most importantly, don’t do your own proofreading. If you wrote it, you’ll read right over the little typos and errors that somehow sneak into a book, almost as if a gremlin tucked them there after everything was perfect. Your mind sees what it expects to see, not necessarily what is there.
  • A picture of the author is a nice touch on the back cover. My publisher chose to put his logo on the bottom of the spine so there was room to include the author’s name on the spine as well. The information for the publisher is included in the black “ribbon” that wraps around the bottom of the book, which includes the bar-code, ISBN, as if it’s part of the design.
  • eBooks have only a front cover. All of the publisher’s information will be on the copyright page. The cover can have pictures, design, and color, but remember the image size on the website is only one to two inches in size. Text needs to be in large-point sizes, and wording must be kept to a minimum. [Title, Series/Subtitle, Author, and maybe a designation: novel, nonfiction, true story].  Remember, you do have a webpage for the synopsis and description of the book to entice readers.
  • And keywords? They are so essential when someone is searching for the genre of book they’d like to read.
  • Even the biggest name writers, who have been publishing for decades, have only one front cover on an eBook. Therefore, they may have two different covers: One for the print book and a separate scaled-down version for the eBook, but they usually correspond in some fashion, unless the writer decides to change the cover, which happens more frequently on eBooks than hard print.
  • Testimonials, news releases, editorial reviews can go either at the front or back of the eBook. The author’s bio is a separate page in the back of the book, and most eBook sites will allow a picture of the author without an additional charge, but not always. It’s best to read all the guidance on pictures before submitting. Pictures can get expensive in an eBook, which is a consideration because the charge for an eBook is significantly less than hardcopy. I know horror stories of pictures promised and paid for that never showed up in the online book or were poor quality and spaced/sized incorrectly. The use of pictures in eBooks is improving, however.
  • As far a cover design, you have to think big, bold, simple because fine detail is lost on a one-inch thumbnail-sized cover. Nice things can be done with different fonts, but not all fonts are recognized on all websites. Bold-face/italics/colored fonts can add interest and usually do carry over to different sites, but not always. I do design my own covers for my eBooks, especially a YA novella series which I have used as an example below. Future novellas in this series may lean more toward colored text over a transparency picture with bold colors, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Always do a preview and see if it can be read and gets the message across. If you attempt to do your own cover, you need to know the basics of printing: Inserting text and pictures, pixels, fonts (serif vs. sans serif), point sizes, leading/spacing, cropping, scaling, enhancing pictures or changing colors. Microsoft Publisher 2013 (the newest MS software and part of Office 365) is a good package if you are familiar with the printing terms mentioned above, pagination for eBooks, and formatting for eBooks. Be sure and “bleed” the background color to the edges. Make sure you’re not using any copyrighted or royalty images.
Stroke of Midnight Cover
Go to www.clasidconsultantspublishing.com and look at my slideshow of designs, middle of HOME page. Also, at the bottom of the ABOUT page I have web links for other authors that I have worked with either editing, proofreading, design, ghost writer, or all of the above.
Let me know if I can be of assistance.
Deborah A. Bowman

16 thoughts on ““You Can’t Always Tell a Book by its Cover” As Authors, We Need Our Covers to be As Professional As Our Writing!

    1. Thank you, Margaret. I am excited about your tell-it-like-it-really-is blog, too. Writing is just plain hard work, but we would not be whole without the baring of our souls in print. If you get a chance, my full-length novel, second release, Living In a Shadow (link on my sidebar) is centered around the writing industry. Which book of yours do you recommend for an old crusty nuts-and-bolts writer/editor like me? Review time…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would depend on your tastes. Check out “Books and Publications” page here. My top four are the two Florida mysteries, “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes” and “Twilight’s Indian Princess.” All are wry and humorous, check the reviews. “Twainish.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like almost all genres, but mysteries in Florida, I’m IN! The title “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes” had already caught my eye. I have one book I’m still reviewing and, hopefully, I can slip yours in next without upsetting some other writers. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, MARLIN, DARLIN, it is…to start. Hope you look at my novel too. I also have 3 novellas, quick reads in the paranormal crime series genre. So little time to write as an editor, and I skipped a whole decade after I first published (work and health) so I’m playing catch-up. Such fun!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. K.J., thank you. Your book is next in line after the one I started a couple of days ago. I try to do at least one review a week. I’m behind right now. Getting ready to launch YA Astral Investigator Infinity Series…1st novel.

      Liked by 1 person

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