Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Every Author Should Know About Book Covers


Book Covers: What Even Your Publish May Not Know
 

If you have a "traditional" publisher, or a publisher who does your book cover for you, do you really need to read this article on what makes a great book cover and the booboos too many authors and publishers make with their covers? All I can tell you is, I wish I had seen it before my first book was released!

These are your basic tenets for a book cover that SELLS:


1. Use a subtitle. It is your second chance to publicize your book right up front. Even books of fiction can benefit from a subtitle.

2. Use another subtitle on the back--not the same one as on the front. How many times in life do you get a third chance? This one will help sell your book to browsers who turn it over in bookstores to read the endorsements.

3. Use enticing blurbs on the back, with lots of space between and around them. Use bold typeface, a frame or some other graphic trick to make them stand out.

4. Don't use borders on the books covers. Sometimes the spine doesn't align well in production and it will look like Mondrian gone awry.

5. Having said that, use a bright color or one dark enough for your cover to stand out online. White gets lost or looks ghostly on an B&N.com sales page.

6. Use big letters on the spine. Make them read up and down if the title isn't too long, instead of making the reader twist his/her head to see it on the shelf.

7. Author bios needn't go on the back cover of your book. They do equally well in in the back matter and you'll have more space to convince readers of your expertise or credibility as a writer.  

8. An author's picture that tells more of a story than just a head shot is desirable. (If you would like to see an example of this, my picture is with my Great Dane, e-mail me at HoJoNews@aol.com and I'll send it to you. She is spotted and looks like an overgrown Dalmation so she catches everyone's eye!) It should be taken by a professional. There are little things about shadows and the position of your head that an amateur photographer won't get right.

9. Make the title big. And your name. Look at the covers in bookstores. The real standouts are the ones that aren' t squeamish about shouting out these most important marketing tools. The title is at the top. The authors' name at bottom. Nora Roberts wouldn't put up with puny lettering, so why should you?

10. Discourage your publisher from using a template. Some subsidy-, partner, or independent publishers make their covers as similar as seeds from a thistle.

11. If you are independently published, consider using a real pro for you cover, not your uncle who happens to be a graphic designer but knows nothing about book covers per se. To get an idea of what great covers look like, visit http://chazdesimone.com or check out the cover on the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter at http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo. And don't look at my novel. I'll do a better job with it when I republish it on my own.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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