The Do’s and Don’ts of Full Cover Design

Rosie Lowe, Assistant Production Manager shares her thoughts and advice on producing captivating full cover designs:

Please do judge a book by its (full) cover! We all know how important the front cover of a book is; it helps to get your book picked up off of a shelf, to sell the book for its wonderful content and to provide potential readers with ideas of what’s inside. However, we cannot underestimate the importance of the spine and back cover…

Tell me, what is the first thing a reader does once they have picked up a book? They flip it straight over to read to blurb – and check the price. This is where the full cover design comes to life. The full cover will solidify whether the potential reader will purchase your book or put it back on the bookshelf, where it will wait for the next potential reader to come along. 

Let’s start with the spine. Now, as you know, not all bookshops display your book front facing; many books will therefore be displayed by the spine. So that your spine stands out, we need to ensure that the title is nice and clear – it really is the main attraction. It is also important the fonts on the spine match the fonts on the front cover. Following the title, we need to include your author name – we still need to be able to read this clearly, but we need to remember that the author name is usually subordinate. If we have a bigger spine, and room to do so, it’s nice to be able to include some sort of imagery from the front cover, whether that be a part of the pattern or the imagery. Lastly, we cannot forget the logo – whether that be the publisher’s logo or the author’s (our logo usually appears at the base of the spine, around 5-10mm from the bottom). Finally, to note, all text on the spine must face the back cover, not the front. 

So, what do we expect to see on the back cover? The blurb, yes, and the barcode, of course, but we also want the back cover to be a continuation of the front. Each back cover is different, but I really like to incorporate elements from the front cover such as imagery, textures, patterns – you name it! A wrap-around cover is also very effective; this is where the image literally starts on the front and wraps around the spine and onto the back. This isn't always possible depending on the image chosen for the front cover, but is particularly effective when a photographic landscape, for example, is used on the front. 

The blurb should always be the focal point and needs to be legible for the target audience (i.e., much larger for younger children and around a 12-13pt font for the average novel). Please also ensure that the blurb isn’t too long – we don’t want to see long, laborious blocks of text, as it’s quite off-putting. As with the spine, the colour palette and fonts should match. Cohesiveness – we like it.

There are so many ways to make your full cover successful and these are just a few tips and tricks to help you do just that!