It might be surprising to hear that your book’s back cover doesn’t have to be ugly. In fact, you can put as much time into the back that you do the front, and while your back cover may not get the love your front cover does, when a reader flips your paperback over, it’s a nice surprise to reveal a pretty back cover that they could potentially love just as much as the front.
Some authors may not put forth much effort or thought into their back cover as they are focused on ebook sales, and that’s something I think about too, since my books are in KU. No one cares about the back cover of a paperback they aren’t going to buy, and more than likely, if you’re in KU and catering to whale readers (let’s say, romance), unless you really knock their socks off, may not even remember your name once they’re done
skimming, reading your book. I mean, that’s fine–I get page reads whether a reader devours and savors every word or they skim for the sex. But you know when a reader shells out POD prices for a paperback that they love you and your books, so why not reward them with something extra special? I don’t mean tucking a 20 between the pages, though that could be something fun to do at some point.
Here are some tips on how to make your book cover shine:
Don’t choose a solid color (and if you do, expect to add some embellishment or it will look plain [see below]).
This is difficult if the image you choose for your front is vertical and not horizontal. This is what was tripping me up when I was doing my most recent trilogy. For the first round of model picks, they were all vertical and didn’t share a similar background that would make a pretty wrap. It’s especially disheartening when you’re doing more than one book and you need to keep their covers similar. Most, if not all, of my covers use a horizontal image so the back cover is taken care of. I would recommend finding a horizontal photo that can be used for the back, spine, and front. If that’s not possible, or you have your heart set on a stock photo that’s vertical, you can use up all that blank space with your blurb, your author photo and bio, maybe an author logo, and the book’s title. My book, All of Nothing, used a vertical photo for the front cover, but I was lucky and turned it black and white and was able to use a black color for the back.
The blurb sucks (don’t read it LOL) and I would move the placement of my author bio to the right of the picture, but my blurb fills the space because I spaced it out. Now I usually add the title of the book to the back as well, but this book is four years old and revamping the back cover isn’t on the my list of priorities at the moment (especially since the paperback is with IngramSpark and I would have to pay $29 dollars to replace the file), though looking at how plain it is, I suppose it could be.
If you add an author picture, add your bio.
There’s no point in having your author photo on the back of your book if you don’t want to add a couple lines of bio to it. It will just be a floating head if you don’t. It’s not hard to say, Vania Rheault loves winter and lives with her two cats in Minnesota. When she’s not writing, she’s sleeping, and you can find her at vaniamargene.com. So many people agonize over what to put, but just think of two or three things that everyone knows about you. It doesn’t have to be interesting or insightful. If you balk at that, skip the photo. I also have an author photo and a longer bio in the backs of all my books. I remember when I was creating the back cover of All of Nothing I knew I needed to take up space, and one of my other standalones I wrote around that same time (Wherever he Goes) was easier to put together, though it had a vertical photo for its front cover too.)
You can tell I was working on my photo manipulation skills here, fading out the bottom for the title on the front and using the bottom of the photo for the blurb on the back. This is the original photo:
I still love everything about this book and consider it one of my biggest achievements though it sells like crap. Meaning, I haven’t sold a copy since July of this year. Which is more recent than I expected, to be honest.
Have fun with how your blurb looks!
This might not be too big of a deal in person if you’re focused on digital sales, but if you ever do a book signing or a convention, the first thing a potential reader is going to do is flip your book over to read the blurb. If your blurb is a big block of text, no one is going to want to read that. As Bryan Cohen likes to say, confused shoppers don’t buy. Don’t intimidate them. Space out your blurb like the ones above, and keep your blurb down to 200 words or less. If you want tips on how to write one, look here. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-a-back-cover-blurb-that-sells (This is actually good advice for your book’s product page on Amazon, too. Make the most of the blurb formatter KDP has so generously updated when you publish your book.)
I don’t have any examples from my own books for this–dual POV takes up a lot of room if you want both sides for the blurb–some authors give both, some stick with the male, some stick with the female. I am trying something else out for my new trilogy that I’ll be publishing in January–columns for the POVs instead of long paragraphs. This is how my blurb for dual POV looks for Rescue Me, the book I just released:
For their names, I used the same font as the title, and really, it’s a pretty plain back cover, all things considered.
And these are the columns I’m going to try for the trilogy:
I’m especially proud of the ombre coloring of the text, and I’m excited to get these proofs. These are the prettiest book covers I’ve done in a long time, and though they may not be 100% billionaire, I’m hoping they convey the genre well enough they garner good sales. I won’t know until I release them, but I searched for “hotter” guys than what I put on my duet, so I hope it makes a difference.
Tell readers how to find you.
I have always referred to the bottom left-hand corner of a book’s back cover as the crap corner. It looks weird blank, and over the years I have changed what I put there. I used to have my social media icons there, now I mostly stick to my website. It still looks bare, but it’s better that nothing. At one point I created a logo to put there for my new pen name, but the cover looks clearer without it (in my opinion) and I always use the same font as the front cover.
The back of your book doesn’t have to be dull–and maybe it shouldn’t be. If you ever hope to go to an author signing or convention, or simply want to give your book away, it’s fun to have the back cover look just as pretty as the front. It tells your reader that you care about the final product of your book. If you want more ideas on back covers, here are a couple of articles I found on the subject.
A couple more tips before I wrap up:
You don’t need to make your font huge. It’s tempting since you have all that space back there, but you don’t need the astronauts in space to be able to read it. Your back cover really will look funny once you hold your book in your hands, so add what you can to the back and keep your font size to a minimum. The font size for the columns on Give & Take is 10.6 in Playfair Display and you don’t need anything bigger than that.
Then two, if you publish through IngramSpark, they force you to match the price on the back with your list price, so you can’t suddenly decide to raise or lower your price without having to change the cover as well. I found that to be a huge PITA, so I stopped adding my prices to the back. If I were just publishing through KDP, maybe I would still since it looks professional to have the price back there (but I never buy the barcodes so I don’t have the price embedded into it anyway) but it’s not a big loss for the hassle it saves me.
Book covers from my friends that I like. All images taken from Amazon.com and these are not affiliate links.