Front cover: I like covers that are unexpected enough to catch my attention, and subtle enough to make me want to know more. I always make at least three, show them to my beta readers, and see which one they gravitate toward.
Less is more - The more complex and layered the image, the less memorable it will be in the readers' mind. You want a distinct, clear focal point that leaves a definite impression. When I do book events, everyone comments on Made for Breaking. It's a strong image, but not a cluttered one.
Keep the audience in mind - for some people, sweaty, tangled bodies on a front cover will be a repellant (like for me. I don't read any books with writhing, unclad couples on the fronts). But those same tangled bodies will attract other people. Think about the content of your book, and why your readers are choosing your books. My books contain explicit sexual content, but those scenes are not the reason my readers read my books. The focus for me is on character and story and setting, so the covers are never explicit.
Back cover: There's a great blog post about persuasive back cover copy here.
My personal spin on the process is:
- Play the trailer in my head. I cram the story into mental images, complete with music and voiceover, and imagine what big points the trailer would focus on. The book's snapshot, if you will.
- I set out the conflicts, and signal that characters will be forced to make choices. You'll have to read the book to see how it works out. The back cover is all about setting up conflict.
- Focus on the big conflicts, and keep it short and thematic. What are the big issues? Who has the most to lose?
- I don't talk about the sex because half the fun is finding out when, where, how. Sex is a given, might as well not spoil it.
Back cover copy is like flirting with the audience, intriguing them, making them want more. It's not exactly what the book's about, but the vapors of it. A hint. There is such a thing as too much information, when it comes to fiction. You want them to experience the novel, not pick it apart or mark their places by certain expectations.
Sometimes, I shorten and punch up the online book summaries, make them even snappier and more appealing, though I may have longer synopses on the books I have in stores. Online shoppers have reviews, blog links, Twitter links, and other factors that help them decide, whereas an in-store customer has only the book.
I'm so glad to have Keeping Bad Company set up. Glad I took the time this morning. Full synopsis below, subject to tweaking, because that's my prerogative :).
When their family was threatened, the Russells made a pact: no more secrets. But Johnny’s secret isn’t one he can share. To keep his father safe, he prospects with the Black Dogs Motorcycle Club, diving headlong into a whole new depth of counterculture, tangling himself in a war that his family started…and his new biker family is going to finish. If he wants to patch in, he must prove his unswerving loyalty to the club. If he wants to protect the people he loves, he’ll have to learn to live with outlaws.
Arlie Scott, runaway, bartender, longs to escape the mess she’s made of her life. It gets messier the night she flirts with the cute biker boy across the bar…and witnesses a murder. Now she’s swept up in the dark world of the Black Dogs, forced to trust Johnny Russell when he says he won’t let anything happen to her, determined to find her own place in this antiquated land of leather and lies.
Evil lingers in the shadows, threatening families of blood and brotherly bond. In this third installment of the Russell saga, the family will be put to the test, fighting a common enemy alongside the might and malice of an unstoppable outlaw force. Johnny must choose between two worlds, because he can’t belong to both, and he can’t betray either.
Keeping Bad Company, Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley