26 March 2014 - TOP BOOK COVERS


G'day folks,

Welome to a guest post from a man who writes lots of sensible stuff - Ira Blacker. Today Ira speaks about book covers, something I've thought lots about. Why, because I've seen some shockers. Before I published my first book I visited the local library and spent a good hour looking at book covers and reading blurbs. Some of the covers had no connection to the blurb. Blurb? The best 100 words you will need to write in any book.

I've included some of my covers in this post and, as a photographer, I like to do my own covers. Why not, eh?

Take it away, Ira ...

The clock is ticking and it is close to midnight. You have 8-10 seconds for your book cover to impact your sale and up to 15 seconds more for the back cover to close it. As the midnight bell tolls and only up to 25 seconds later, you either made your sale or lost it. 

Are you losing sales on your book?

Your book cover is the ultimate line of defense as a marketing tool. You may do everything you can, use every marketing trick in the book as well as having written a great one. However, once you “drive the reader to water,” if your book’s cover does not grab them then they “will not drink.”

One of the most important elements of design is epitomized by the computer acronym K.I.S.S. and it stands for “keep it simple stupid.” The worst thing one can do with design is to jam in all but the proverbial kitchen sink. Keep it simple and get to the point and after all the point is to epitomize the content and lure the potential reader into the book. You want simple, but you also want impact. Let’s take a look at the elements of a quality cover design.

Story of an Australian drover in 1910.


Front Cover: 

The graphics must literally reflect the classic idiom of “a picture speaks a thousand words.” The picture or illustration must not only be depictive of the content but also compelling and impactful. For example if the plot takes place on a plantation in the south, you may want an image with trees with the local Spanish moss hanging and the big white shuttered home. The key is to be descriptive, but also an image that stands out.

Change the cover layout from the print version so that you have a specific layout for eBook sales in order not to have your cover show as crunched up online for the eBook.

Based on a true story of a young Thai girl.
Note the back cover has a QR code 
and also my logo - all evenly balanced.

 Back Cover:

While the front cover hopefully leaps out at the reader and grabs their attention, it is the back cover that closes the deal and turns a browser into a buyer. It should be a short, yet impactful description of the contents, and/or contain a powerful quote from the storyline. A bit about the author is always good, assuming it sounds interesting or there are important past credits. Testimonials are also a great marketing tool. If you can get a sentence or few from other well known authors or celebrities that is always a good selling point for a book.


Probably the key item here is legibility as well as a great title since there is not much room to add much more and if the books are stacked spine out you want yours to be noticed. For the purpose of continuity and book printing overlap the front cover graphics onto the spine. Not only will it add to the look but also provide your book printer a bit more wiggle room if needed when adjusting the binding.



Fonts should always be readable, but they also can depict periods in history, such as an Art Deco of Gothic looking font. The font should add to the cover in a descriptive way so that it too is a reflection of the book’s contents as well is the image you choose.

Story of an Australian aboriginal drover in 1910.
This is a sketch done by the famous Bill Perring.
Notice the watermarks to reflect the time period.

Order of Appearance for Copy:

Title generally should be the largest, author name next in size (unless by a famous author, then marketing may dictate author name as most prominent), then a descriptive and compelling sentence.

I like the idea of using colloquialisms, current news items or other memorable events to help craft a title, as it helps people remember yours. You can twist it around in a novel way so that it is clear what it was, but now descriptive of your content or “if the shoe fits…” use it in tact.

Use compelling words that grab attention: vulnerable, disastrous, danger, meltdown, death, lurking, terror, caution, and warning are but a few.

Professional Copy Writer:

Consider using a copywriter or quality editor to come up with “copy that kills.” It is not just good enough to get a great cover designer, as a great copywriter, which is a different specialty than design has the potential to come up with killer ad copy to help with your title and front and back cover copy.

Ira Blacker:

 Clancy's Comment: Thanks, Ira. Great points. I'd add a few issues that I think are important. I use a font that is easy to read. I also use white paper, not some creamy, flowery paper that might be trendy.  Also, besides a fantastic blurb, don't forget to include a QR code so that folks with smart phones can click straight to your website. 

I've recently engaged the services of a very talented illustrator, Bill Perring. However, although I might have a sketch on the front cover of future books, I will use one of my photographs on the back cover. The outside of a book should be similar to the inside - DESIGNED FOR THE READER!

I'm ...

Think about this!

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