The past two blogs have been about design, the front cover and the interior. This week, we’ll flip the book over and look at the back.
Back covers, and spines, need attention, too. Sure, you won’t see them online, but some of us (aka, the readers) do still go to bookstores or libraries or browse through the bookshelves of our more erudite friends.
And not paying attention to the design of these elements is like painting the front of your house but leaving the sides and back to go to pot. Not really a good idea.
So, back covers and spines need care and attention, as well.
The spine, after all, is what folks see when it’s on a bookshelf. So, the title and headline need to be clear and consistent with the design look.
The back cover is a whole look unto itself, yet it must also be consistent with the overall design and, of course, readable. This is where a lot of self-published authors go awry.
It’s not uncommon for a cover image to wrap around to the back. But where a large headline stands out fine on the front, the much smaller type of a back cover blurb does not. This is where designers need to pay attention to readability and consistency over respecting the art. Art on the back is a character actor, not the star of the show.
I also see a lot of excess information on the backs of covers. All you need is a good blurb (a description of the book), some comments on the author’s writing and/or praise for the book and information such as price, publishing information, etc. This is the information the reader needs to decide whether to open that book.
What the reader doesn’t need is the author’s abbreviated life story, or what I call the “vanity blurb.”
As a reader, I don’t need to know that you have four cats or you were raised on a farm in Minnesota. The back cover sells the book and the writing… not the author.
Let me say that again, for emphasis.
The back cover sells the book and the writing… not the author.
Conversely, a good book and good writing sell the author’s brand. Information about the author is useful, of course, but its place is inside the book… in the back.
What information you do put on the back needs to be readable and attractive. It’s like Goldilocks, really, not too big, not too small, but just right.
Think about it from a reader’s perspective.
We’re thinking about our readers here at WMG, and we hope they agree.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.