DIY Book Covers, Pt. 4

DIY Cover Design (4)

We’re not far from wrapping up this series.

If you’re just joining us, check out Part One, Part Two, Part Two.Five, and Part Three.

All right, it’s time to turn over our book and concentrate on the back. There is a LOT of information you might choose to put on the back of your novel.

My dear friend Joshua Edward Smith has nothing on the backs of his cover aside from an image—while this works for him, most books have something on the back cover. These things might include (but please do not include them all!):

  • Synopsis
  • Author bio
  • Image(s)
  • Contact information
  • Price
  • Advanced praise (more common on hardbacks, but still happens on some paperbacks.)
  • Quotes
  • UPC
  • Call-to-action

Let me begin by inserting the back covers I have done for my books, then I’ll talk further on some of the points above.

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Synopsis

I don’t know anyone who finds writing back copy enjoyable. I sure don’t. You’ve just spent untold amounts of time crafting 70,000+ words into a story and now you must condense it to a few paragraphs with such care it will entice someone to part with their money and their time.

Without having read your work, obviously I cannot help you write your synopsis, but that’s okay—check out this book on writing a compelling synopsis.

My synopsis for Alabama Rain is relatively short:

Sarah left Dry Creek, Alabama before the ink on her high school diploma had a chance to dry and never looked back.

But, when Sarah’s elderly father is brutally murdered in the summer of 1994, she has no choice but to return home in order to make sense of what happened–and to prove her estranged mother’s innocence.

But proving Corrie Bryant is innocent is no easy task.

Hard and heavy truths lie buried in the past, and now that people are looking, Corrie must double down to keep decades-old secrets where she left them, to make amends with the people she cares for most, and to learn how to be the mother she should have been fifty years ago.

Learning the truth may be just as hard for Sarah as it is for Corrie to tell.

It feels funny trying to explain what I hoped worked with this and why, because obviously I hope all of it works.

Accompanying the synopsis you’ll usually find a tagline. This is a short sentence or two that needs to pack a punch—because a potential reader may need that extra incentive to even read the synopsis, much less the book itself.

Mine for Alabama Rain was:

Some secrets are too dark to be taken to the grave.

Author Bio

Good grief, if I hate something more than writing a synopsis it’s the author bio.

I just don’t care much for writing about myself. Couple that with my lack of “accepted” writing credentials and writing an author bio is a true pain in the tuckus.

My author bio on the back of SLT and SLF includes an author photo, both of which break the rule stating you shouldn’t use a “selfie.”

It is actually in future plans to redo the backs of these covers to remove the author bio and photo—I’m more fond now of including them in the back-matter on the interior.

If you choose to include one on the back of your novel, however, my advice is to keep it short and sweet. If you have credentials to list, list them proudly. If you don’t, then I suggest writing several and seeking advice from your critique partners on what works and what doesn’t.

Images

You’re perfectly fine using a simple color for your background and having nothing but text on top of it. If that is where you’re comfortable, go for it.

Permit me to break down for you the images used on the backs of my novels.

On SLT, it’s pretty standard. I reused the satin sheets I used on the cover and spine. Do they hold some significance? Yes. Is it particularly striking? Mmm…not really. Could I do better now after some experience? Probably. Will I redo it? Maybe.

For SLF, I used the image of a white gift box with red ribbon. This is a recurring thing in the book and felt compelled to use it for that reason and in the hopes that such a box might cause a potential reader to ponder the possibilities not only inside the box, but also inside the book itself. (For what it’s worth, the back of this book is the one I hate the most. I got the text wrong and when I edit it to remove the bio, I’ll fix the text too.)

For Alabama Rain, I have used images of flowers and an antique whistle. Flowers are highly significant in the book, as is the whistle.

In case you missed the theme here, I enjoy taking one more opportunity to give a little glimpse at the world inside my book by use of images. It’s totally personal preference. What might you use from your work?

What About The Rest?

UPC | Again, I cannot speak to Amazon, but when you’re working with IngramSpark, you are able to place the UPC wherever you would like.

Price | I choose not to include the price on my covers (though I probably will on the dust jacket of my hardback copies of AR.) Why? Because if I reprice my book, I do not want to have to redo the cover just for that.

Quotes | My only advice when choosing to use a quote is make sure you are not violating any copyright laws!

Contact Information | It might not be a bad idea to add your web address to the back cover, especially if you have a great-looking website or a prolific newsletter. You can see on SLT I invited people to follow me specifically on Twitter, then on SLF I gave a blanket invitation to follow me across all social media, then on AR, I gave no such invitation at all. It isn’t because I suddenly don’t want readers to follow me, but more that I think it’s an unspoken rule authors are on social media and I no longer feel inclined to list that on the back cover. (Always include contact information on the interior, too!)

Call-To-Action | This works best on non-fiction work, I think. In fiction, our call-to-action is please, pretty please read my book. And then again on the interior a reminder to leave us a review. In non-fiction, you might have a supplemental blog/website or some other thing to which you’d like to draw attention.

So, how might I handle the back cover for our example book, Divine Wrath?

What matters?

I rather like the idea that the lady on the cover controls the skies. So I will likely stick with the lightning element and choose something else that might have been in line with the book, you know, if it actually existed. I don’t feel compelled to do a step-by-step, because the mechanics are generally the same as the cover, so feel free to reference that post.

Copy of Divine Wrath

So I made this by stretching the cover image way out, so much you can no longer see any facial features. I added a lightning element and candle element.

Obviously I did not take the time to create a synopsis for this book, instead opting for some lorem ipsum…but I must give credit where credit is due, my friend Vania’s newest book inspired the way I broke up the synopsis with the tagline. (This is why I always suggest studying the covers from other authors so you can learn!)

I used the dummy UPC just for my own visualization because this isn’t the end product yet, not for IngramSpark anyway. I’ll show you how it all truly comes together in Photoshop next week. For now, a more crude mockup will have to suffice.

Crude Mockup.png

I think it looks pretty damn good, actually.

Next week I will show you how I take each file, the cover, spine, and back, and lay them out in Photoshop, how I make sure everything is within the bleed lines and safe-zones. And heck, just for the fun of it, I may write an actual synopsis for this thing I will never write. (I probably won’t.)

Thanks again for joining me this far! See you next week! ♥


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