Guest Blog By Valerie Allen – “Book Covers And Spines”

 Book Covers & Spines


Valerie Allen



The front cover can sell your book. It must invite the readers’ attention, encourage them to select your book, get them to hold it in their hands, move them to flip through the pages, and help them decide to buy. A daunting task!

Browse in bookstores, and observe patrons as they scan a book cover. How long do they view the cover before placing the book back on the shelf or carrying it to the checkout? Research shows it is about 30 seconds or less.

The front cover must be clear and convey the theme of your book. With non-fiction, this is usually straightforward information and often has a sub-title to provide details that are more specific. A fiction title can be misleading; for this reason, the book cover is even more important to convey the story concept.

The two most prominent parts of your book cover are the book title and your name. The title should be easily read from a distance of three feet.

The cover of your book is the first step in getting a buyer’s attention. Unless you are an expert in graphics or photography, it is well worth your time and money to hire a professional to design your book cover or allow the publisher to do so.

If your book passes the front cover test, the reader will turn the book over to scan the back cover. This is a good sign.

The back cover should continue the color scheme and story theme. It should have the book title, your name, reviews or quotes. Additionally, the back cover displays the ISBN, price, bar code, and key words for display and marketing purposes.

The back cover is also the place to add something significant about yourself, your experience, awards, and your credentials to boost your credibility as an author.

This is the place for your photo. Unless it is a memoir, use a current picture. The background in the photo can lend itself to further you or your book’s theme. Try not to date yourself with clothing, jewelry or hairstyle. These will make an impression on the reader as well, so choose carefully.

Books with the front cover facing out attract more attention; however, most books are displayed spine out toward the prospective buyer. The wider the spine, the easier it is to read. The spine should have the book title, your name and the publisher’s name and/or logo.

When designing the outer parts of your book, remember, white space sells. It’s easier for the reader to find details about you and your book if the information is widely spaced between each paragraph and block of text. An exterior crowded with text, graphics, and bright color can create visual overload.

Excerpted from: Write, Publish, Sell! Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ideas for the Marketing Challenged 2nd Valerie Allen


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  1. amandachen

    “Browse in bookstores, and observe patrons as they scan a book cover. How long do they view the cover before placing the book back on the shelf or carrying it to the checkout?”

    People still go to bookstores?

  2. Yes they do. While on line shopping is fine, walking into a book store and flipping the pages of books cannot be replaced by a computer. If you like books, and reading, give it a try.

  3. I couldn’t agree more, Valerie. There are so many hideous covers nowadays, I literally crinnge when I see them. Sad, yet so avoidable. I don’t find a black background splashed with a sickening shade and amount of blood to be very inviting. And the word ‘blood’ has also been so overdone, I don’t think they get that a few small changes and using their imaginations just a little, could totally change things in a positive way for them. If I can’t get past the cover, I’m certainly not going to be able to read the book. :/

  4. Virginia Nygard

    Great reminders as I begin prepping details for my next book, Beyond Deja Vu! Thanks, Valerie.

  5. Thanks for such a great post. By the way, I LOVE to browse through bookstores. Buying online is like fast food. Browsing and buying in a good bookstore is like fine dining!

  6. Thanks! I have to come up with a cover for an ebook that I want to publish in print–as soon as I find someone to help me with it…

    Yes, I prefer browsing in bookstores and looking at all the info inside and out.

  7. I agree. REALLY important, Valerie. I use Chaz DeSimone for my book covers. You’ll see he even developed an exclusive font for my titles. (-:

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