I’m back from the dead (not literally) with the last batch of blogs in the Cheap Cover Series. What was supposed to be a hand full of vague posts has spiraled out of control, let me tell you! However, I am planning to compile it all and turn it into an ebook on Smashwords, just so you know.
You make think that you’re pretty clever because you are doing an ebook, and ebooks do not need a back cover. So ha! Well, technically, you’re right. They don’t need a back cover. But wouldn’t it be cool to have the option of printing a copy up for your friends through, say, lulu, for Christmas? Yeah, well that copy is gonna look pretty dumb with a blank back cover. Not only that, but the back cover “image” makes a good website tag, or a good promotional tool, even if the book is an ebook. Just a couple of things to think about.
Now, the first thing you should do is grab a book – any old book will do – and flip it over. Take a look at what is actually on the back cover. You may see some kind of simple artwork or photography (sometimes a continuation of the front cover image wrapped around, or even the front cover over again). You might see an author photo and bio, but you will see a bar code, a “back of book description”, and copyright credits. (We’ll cover those later)
So, besides those three things, what should you put on your back cover? How did I decide what to include on mine? This is where I pull out my honesty cards. That friend of mine who did the original layouts and such also made a sample back of book cover, using my query letter synopsis and some of my artwork (that was actually for something else, but that’s neither here nor there).
I could take a moment here and tell you what is wrong with this design, but as someone did it being kind, I won’t. It’s the thought that counts, and beside, it did something more for me than just showing me what it could be – it gave me a place to start. Sometimes, staring at a blank, empty stretch of document – or image – is really daunting. In fact, sometimes staring at the nothingness can be so overwhelming, that it can paralyze a person.
So, what’s a good way around this “nothingness” paralysis? Look through your book collection, google image search for “book back cover”; in other words, find the back book cover you like, and then use it as a building block for your cover. No, this doesn’t mean that you can use any of the artwork, photography, or text from someone else’s cover. That’s stealing, and copyright infringement and lots of other nasty things. You still have to plug your own content in, but this can give you an initial layout, and a place to start at.
While you’re designing your back cover, keep the front cover in mind! The back cover and front cover need to go together – they need to complement one another. You don’t want to look at the front of the book, then flip it over and go “AGH! Why is the cover green and the back fuchsia?!” You want a reader to flip the book over and see a continuation of the front; it needn’t be a literal continuation, but it should convey the same theme, feelings and ideas.
Have you ever seen a back book cover that you really liked? or one that you didn’t like? Why? What about it made it good or bad?