Tips for Indie Writers: Your Book’s Back Cover

Last week I discussed designing the front cover for your book.  Today, let’s look at what should be on the back cover.  Obviously, what you want on the back of your book and where it’s located on the back cover is entirely up to you, but these are just a few tips to get you started.

Do Your Homework

You more than likely own books, live near a bookstore or live near a library.  And while the last two may not be currently open in your area – thanks to a current global pandemic – if you have a stash of books, you can do your homework just fine.

Just flip those paperbacks over and look at what’s present.  Many hardcover books have dust jackets that may only have a large photo of the author or some image related to the book, but if you find one that has information about the book, use it as well.

Now, of those elements, which ones do you feel would best help to sell your book to a potential reader? Remember, you now have to mentally distance yourself from the creative side of the writing process and get into the writing process’s marketing side.  Think of what’s on the back cover as a sales pitch to the potential reader.  This is your opportunity to sell them on your story and get them to buy the book.  

Let’s examine some of these elements.

The Blurb

Pretty much this a short description of what the story is about.  Lay out the story’s basics, the characters, and the conflict in a couple hundred words or less.  Your goal is to entice the reader to want to know more and purchase the book to read the full story.

If you’re like me and have a hard time not being wordy, write a synopsis of your story, then pare that down to the sentences that lay out the basics and will hook the reader into buying your book.

The Bio

If you want to include your bio on the back, this should also be basic information.  If you want to add more detail, you can always have an “About the Author” page inside the book as well. But a few sentences about you can be useful on the back cover.

The Picture

I think it’s nice to have a photo of the author on the back cover.  This should look somewhat professional since, again, you are selling yourself and your book.  Have a friend or family member – hopefully, one of them takes decent pictures – take several photos of you in different locations and in different outfits.  This way you’ll have choices when you sit down to decide.  

It might be wise to even contact a local photographer and see how much they charge for an hour or so to take a few shots, so you get quality images for your book.

But, please, no selfies.

The Info

Make sure to include your book’s or author’s official website and social media.  This is another way that people can find out more about you and your books. 

The Reviews

How do authors get reviews on a book that’s not even out yet?  Well, if they’re well-known, they have their agent or publisher send out advanced copies to critics to read and then use snippets of those initial reviews on the book.

But if you’re an indie author, you may not have that luxury.  Luckily, there are pay services available where you can have people read and review your manuscript before publishing to get a few review quotes about your book to add to the back cover.

Using a legitimate review service adds credibility and gravitas to your writing, especially since these people don’t know you and can be objective in their opinions about your work.

Besides, putting “The greatest author EVER!” – Mom, on the back may come across as a tad hokey.

While you are using small snippets from these reviews on the back, the full reviews can be used on your website and social media to help promote the book.  

Choose sections of each review with statements that sell.  If you were to pick up this book, what words from those reviews would make you want to read it?  Choose those, then make sure you attribute the quote to the reviewer and their outlet.


If you plan to sell your book as a paperback and hope to get it into a store one day, having the UPC code on the back is a wise move.  The publisher you are using will have a template for you to use to explain the dimensions of the UPC (example 1.5” x 2”).  

Make sure you have a white box positioned wherever you want it on the back cover, with the specific dimensions given, so the UPC barcode can be added during printing.

Now What?

Once you are 100% locked into what you want on the back cover, all of this information should be given to your cover artist.  Make sure you describe exactly where you want each element, then once you get a draft back, you can make alterations if needed.

Again, this is your product with your face and name on it.  Make sure it sells you and your story in the most effective way possible.

And now, you should have a professional and sellable cover for your eBook and paperback.

Next week, we’ll explore some more writing tips.  See you then!

Tips for Indie Writers: Finding a Cover Artist and Creating Your Book’s Cover

As the old clichéd saying goes: You can’t judge a book by its cover. However, if you’re an indie author, it’s vitally important that your book’s cover is what you want and how you want your work represented either as an eBook or a published work. As a writer who has gone through the cover art process twice, I wanted to give you some advice you can use to make sure your book’s cover delivers what you need it to.

Do Your Homework

There are a wide range of cover artists that do book covers for indie authors. You can do a Google search, find them on social media, or even ask an author whose cover you liked. Depending on what you’re looking for and your budget, you can find a cover artist to meet your needs.  

Maybe you’re looking for a cover with actual costumed people, or perhaps a humorous drawing of your characters. Maybe you want something simple, or something more involved. Whatever your needs, you can find someone who can do it for you.

Along with this, you also want to keep pricing in mind as you begin your search. Some artists have separate pricing for eBook and print covers, and some offer a package deal for both. If the prices aren’t listed on their site, don’t hesitate to contact them and ask.

It’s also important to find out the average turnaround time from when you send your ideas to when you get a version of the final product. If you’re in a time crunch and the turnaround is three months, you may want to look for someone who can meet your schedule constraints and still deliver what you want.

Be Specific in What You Want

Once you find the cover artist you like, nail down the pricing, and have a basic timeline set, it’s time to figure out what you want on your cover. At this point, you should have some basic ideas of what you want the cover to look like, especially as you were working on the manuscript. As you think about the cover, what images or moments from your book would capture and convey the book’s essence and genre?  

Think of your cover as a simplified movie poster. You have the title of the book, your name, and now an image that draws potential readers in to hopefully purchase and read your book.

Once you’ve narrowed it down, decide on one that really feels like a great representation of the story. Now, write down what you want the image to look like. If the artist states you can send reference images, find images that will help get your vision across to them.

Much like with your story, you are creating a picture with words translated into an image by the artist.

Quick example:

– A lake illuminated by moonlight.

– It’s a clear night; stars are in the sky.

– In the background, we can see the shoreline; pine trees line the shore.

– A rowboat sits in the center of the cover in the calm lake.

– A body floats near the rowboat. 

– On the top of the cover is the title: The Laketown Murders

– On the bottom is the author’s name: Bob Smithenwesson.

The key is to give the artist detailed info to work with, but not to overwhelm them. And if they need more information or detail, they’ll ask.

Allow for Adjustments and Modifications

Have you ever read a book then seen the movie version and said, “That’s not what I had pictured at all.” Sometimes this can happen during the first go-around of designing your cover. And it’s okay.  

Now you have a version of the cover that the cover artist interpreted based on what you supplied. Not what you were looking for? No problem. Ask for adjustments and modifications. Again, be specific about these.  

This is the fun part since now you have a visual representation of your book’s cover right in front of you. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush to see your name and title on a book cover!  

Continue to work with and communicate with the artist until the cover is exactly what you’re looking for. This goes for the back cover of the print version as well (we’ll talk a little about that next week).  

If you are happy with your collaboration, make sure you tell the cover artist you are satisfied with their work (you may return to them in the future for another cover). Don’t just right, “Yeah, that works,” say, “Yes! That’s perfect! Thanks so much!” A little appreciation can go a long way.

Once you are satisfied, they will email you an invoice for their services. PAY THEM IMMEDIATELY. They are a part of your indie book team now, and you want to make sure that you treat all members like you would want to be paid…on time.

Remember, Your Name is on the Cover

This cover represents you. While you should thank the cover artist and include their website in your acknowledgments, it is your name that people will see on the cover. Ensure that it represents you and your story in a way that you are proud of and confident in marketing and promoting.

Once it’s published, it becomes a product. You and the book are the faces of the product, and the cover is the packaging that entices readers to buy and see what amazing goodies are inside.

Do your research, be specific in what you want, make changes when necessary, and you’ll have a great book cover to be proud of!

Start Early

If you have a draft or two done of your manuscript and have an idea for your cover, take the leap and start the design process early. It’s a fun way to create a sense of immediacy and give your manuscript a professional face. Then you can have it as the wallpaper on your computer as a reminder of what you’re working toward: a published book!

Next week, we’ll talk about the back of your printed book and a few other pre-publishing tips. See you next week.