What to Include On Your Print Book Cover


Most book covers fail to sell books as well as they should. Does your book cover fall into this trap? Read this and then see how your cover compares. Oh, and while many of the topics I cover here relate to print book covers, some will apply to ebook covers as well. Especially since Amazon is now letting authors submit back cover art for Kindle books…

Okay, so before I begin, I want you to note what is NOT in this list: beautiful design or the perfect image. Those are important for sure, but most authors and designers focus on design and images too much. They fail on the rest of what I outline below which is the most important part of turning a browser into a buyer.

On to the list of what your book cover must include.

Readable title

Open up Amazon and start browsing book categories. Click a category and start browsing through the top 100 books in that category. See how long it takes you to find a book that has a cover but the title is unreadable.

When it comes to the title especially, it needs to be readable. Not readable by you the author and approver of book cover design. It needs to be readable by your parents or your kids or someone who is not so close to your project.

Make your title readable by keeping it short enough so you can use a larger font size. Your sub-title does not need to be readable from a thumbnail size image view – so it can be longer and tell more about the book.

Contrasting colors

Even a short title in large font can be hard to read sometimes. And this leads to the topic of contrast. Contrast as it relates to your book cover refers to using colors that help offset each other.

Remember that craze when everyone and her brother seemed to be publishing a book with a red background and large black letter title? Guess what? It works! It is easy to see and read the title of those books and that is partly because of the contrast in colors.

Choosing colors is beyond the scope of this article, but what is important to take away is that your cover background color (or image) should contrast your title font color(s). For example, this could mean choosing a dark background and using light or white as the font color for your title. Or vice versa.

Back cover copy

The text you put on the back cover of your book is like (or even the same as ) your book description on your book sales page.

First, it should have an attention grabbing headline. Attention grabbing is not the same as salesy or cheesy. It just needs to peak the reader’s attention or curiosity and make them want to learn more.

Your book title is not a good headline for the back cover text or your book description.

Next, like the opening paragraph in your book’s introduction, the first paragraph of your back cover copy should rouse curiosity and make the reader want to read more! The objective of each sentence is to lead the reader to the next sentence and then the close. The close is where you leave them either with a call to buy the book – or leave them anxious to read more from you.

Maybe what I’m suggesting sounds difficult or complicated. Really it is not. Instead of sitting down to write your book cover text as though it were sales copy, write it as though you were telling a long lost friend about you and the book.


As a self publishing author, it is your job to make sure your book is saleable. That means including the price of the book on the back cover both with a bar code and written out. It’s easy to over look this easy step! But I learned the hard way that a book store is not interested in carrying a book without a price on the cover.

Put the price near the bottom of the book in an inconspicuous place. Ideally, you want the reader who picks up your book to spend their attention on reading the wonderful reasons why they should buy your book and then see the price. If they see the price first, they may well make some kind of judgment (like this book is too expensive) and then put it down before reading anything about it.

Author / book website URL

Lastly, be sure to include a website address relating to you the author or the book. Not everyone who picks up the book is going to buy it – for a variety of reasons – but that does not mean they are uninterested in your work. Maybe the timing is just not right for buying the book today.

Why not give them a way to learn more about you?

And depending on your niche or topic, some readers may want to find out more about you first before buying the book. They may be seeking to find more content that shows your credibility / expertise  before they buy.

Either way, whether the reader seeks to learn more about your for credibility or because they just think you’re interesting, give them a way to find out more online.

Photo Credit: Bill McChesney on Flickr

Is it possible to self-publish your book for free?

In short, the answer is yes.

It will cost you nothing – no one-time fee, no ongoing monthly fee – to publish through Createspace on through the Kindle Store. Createspace is owned by Amazon.com. They are what is called a print on demand publisher. And by publishing your book through Createspace, you will be able to sell your book through Amazon.com and other online bookstores.

Kindle is the online store for electronic books (ebooks) which can be read on tablet devices like the Kindle or iPad.

That sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

 However, you should know that there are likely to be costs involved with self-publishing.

Most authors excel at writing books. But they are not graphic designers. What about you? Are you going to design your own cover? If no, you should plan have to pay someone to create a book cover. You can always try to find a family member or friend who can do graphic design to help you. I got my first book cover done free just because the designer wanted to have his name in the credits for my book. The same thing could happen for you – all you have to do is ask!

Additionally, most authors should not edit their own work. So you should plan to hire an editor. Technically, you don’t have to. But poorly edited books do not sell well and tend to get bad reviews. Again, if you know an editor, maybe they will edit the book for you free just for being mentioned as someone who helped you publish the book. But it is strongly recommended to hire a professional editor to review your work. Don’t let that stop you from getting your friends and neighbors to read the book for edits too!

There are also costs involved with promoting your book.

You will need a website. That involves having web hosting and some other minor costs. You can always start a free blog on a service like Tumblr or you can opt to just have a Facebook Fan Page. Those options are free.

You should issue a press release when your book goes live. And if you want the press release to be seen by several media outlets than you will have to pay for the press release. But you can always write a press release (or several) and send them to news outlets yourself. You won’t get the broad reach that you do when you pay for the service (they can reach hundreds or thousands of media contacts) but you can at least hit your local papers and news sources.

 Finally, it will cost you a price to get copies of your book…

(assuming you self-published a print book). You get the copies a very discounted rate and there is a small shipping fee too. But if you

You may have already been expecting the various costs I just outlined. Importantly, Createspace does not charge any fees for you to publish your book. Today, you can even opt in to using their expanded distribution network, which enables you to sell your book on additional online platforms, for free. This service used to cost $40 per year.

Additionally, once your print book is published through Createspace, you can click a button to have the book converted to Kindle format. Then, you can publish your book on the Kindle store as well. Again, there is no cost involved.

 Technically, if you are looking for the cheapest way to get published…

Then you may want to consider publishing an e-book. Publishing an e-book, like to sell on the Kindle store, costs even less than self-publishing a print book. You still have to pay for a book cover and editing, however your book cover design will cost less. There is more work involved in designing a print book cover. Kindle and e-book covers are easier to design and therefore less expensive.

You can publish your book for free through Createspace and Kindle. This will let you publish your book in print format and electronic format. However, be aware that there are costs involved with self-publishing. The most important costs are getting a book cover design and editing. But you should not have to pay for the actual process of getting the book printed or distributed on Amazon.com.


Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Book Description Headline?


Have you ever stopped to wonder why you open some emails and not others? Have you ever had your attention drawn to a tabloid while you wait to pay for your groceries?

Welcome to the world of headlines. Good headlines have the power to literally stop you dead in your tracks and pay attention.  When they are good, they even cause you to consider picking up a tabloid paper you may not have ever thought of buying.

The same is true with headlines in book descriptions.

Book descriptions have space for headlines. Book descriptions are, in fact, like sales pages for your book. Now I’m not suggesting you need to get all salesy with your book descriptions.

But you should spend a significant amount of time working out the best possible book description. Oh, and incidentally, I’m talking book description here as it appears on your book sales page on a online store like Amazon. But this would equally apply to what you write on the back cover of your book.

By the time someone is reading your book description, they have narrowed down to buying your book or someone else’s. They are close to buying. This is where your book description will help close the sale.

What makes a good headline?

So what makes a good headline? To some extent, the answer depends on your niche.  But most of the answer has to do with human psychology. Great headlines play to things like curiosity or satisfaction or problem solving.

Let’s consider an outlandish but insightful example. This is a tabloid style example (which I’m not saying you should use – it just illustrates the sort of headline that draws our attention):

How to Grow Pumpkins (this is a “ho hum” boring title)

First Time Gardener Harvests a 102 Pound Pumpkin From Seed (tabloid style)

The second headline is again, outlandish. But it evokes curiosity, doesn’t it?

There are a few ingredients that you are sure to find across all great headlines. They tend to be shorter. Think Twitter “tweet” sized versus Facebook “post” sized.

Questions often make compelling headlines. Facts also make for interesting headlines.

What types of headline should you avoid?

Avoid using ambiguity. Saying “Author of over 20 books” is not as powerful or interesting as giving the exact fact: “Author of 23 books”.

Avoid using the title of your book as your book description headline. Again, people have already come to your sales page or picked up your book. They have seen your title and your sub-title. Now you must get their attention and draw them into buying.

How to get good headline ideas for your niche/genre

When it comes to researching good headline ideas for your book description, take a trip to the library or local newsstand.

Pick up a bunch of magazines from your niche or genre and study the covers of the magazines. Magazines and the table of contents are filled with news and article topics. Each one is vying for your attention. Write down the ones you like – the ones you think may resonate with people who would read your book.

It may be tempting to check out what other successful authors in your niche/genre have written. Go ahead and look. But don’t be surprised if you see some pretty boring headlines being used. Most self published authors write the book description / back cover text for their book on a whim right before they publish the book live.

And believe me, they sell less books because of it.

You are trying to sell more books and be successful. Don’t miss out on this easy opportunity to help sell readers on your book.


Photo Credit: Bart Everson on Flickr