Survive Cover Design and Blurb Writing with Sorchia Dubois

Posted on Aug 24, 2017 by   5 Comments | Posted in Blog

making book coversDesigning a book cover and writing a back cover blurb tend to drive writers to drink—or at least to more drink. Besides working on my next book, I’m trying to come up with a fail-safe, sure-fire, one-of-a-kind, guaranteed-to-attract-attention cover for my next release.

This is not my strong suit.

I would love to hear your opinions so I’ve made a couple of surveys. I’ll post results on my website www.SorchiaDuBois.com on August 25 and Sept. 1. If you don’t want to take the surveys, just leave your best cover design and blurb tips in comments.

Here are the Links:

Sorchia’s Book Cover Design Survey

and Sorchia’s Back Cover Blurb Survey

I searched the Interwebs for information about how to easily, quickly, and effectively design a killer book cover. Turns out, it can’t be done easily or quickly, but it can be done. Here’s what I’ve learned:

v  Be symbolic

Ø  Boil your conflict or premise down into a familiar image. If your book is about multiple marriages—then a ring finger with several wedding rings. Using a familiar symbol can tell a whale of a story in a small space.

v  Just as in writing—Show, Don’t Tell

Ø  Show the conflict, whether it’s a werewolf with dripping fangs or a lonely desert or a brain-sucking alien.

v  Set the Mood

Ø  Your use of colors should give readers a sense of what emotion you hope to trigger: black and red for horror, pink and blue for sweet romance.

Ø  Images can show emotion as well—a couple holding hands for a sweet romance; a bloodstained baby crib for a disturbing murder mystery.

v  Avoid clutter. You have two, maybe three images and no more than two font styles worth of room on a standard book cover. Yet you must somehow generate excitement/curiosity/intrigue/desire with those limited elements. Aaaaaand go.

Another major element on a great book cover is a mind-boggling blurb. Back cover blurbs should be:

v  Short. 100-150 words. Browsers won’t have to click Read More. Let’s save their clicking muscles for Buy Now.

v  The first line must be magically delicious. It’s your pick-up line and you haven’t had a date in however long it took you to write the book so make it good.

v  Introduce the protagonist. Give readers someone to identify with—a young fortuneteller from the Bible Belt; an inexperienced lawyer trying her first case.

v  Highlight the conflict. Cut right to the chase. “Smack dab in the middle of a clan war and threatened by seductive witches . . .” or “Lost and alone in the frigid wastes of Antarctica. . . “

v  End with a cliffhanger. Leave them wanting more. A provocative or suspensefully-worded question works or you can literally leave your character dangling at the edge of a cliff.

v  Don’t give away anything. The blurb should hint that juicy bits abound within, but if they want to be amazed, they have to buy the book.

v  Don’t compare to other books. Your book is unique. Revel in its uniqueness.

v  Don’t use clichés. These are as hard to avoid as the plague. Seriously, try to avoid wording like “In a world where…” or the ilk. My thought is that clichés can be useful for comedic value but at your own risk because not everyone will get it.

These general guidelines don’t take into account your genre or audience, two things you need to know extraordinary well and two things that sound easy but aren’t. Like skiing or axe throwing.

What are your secrets for designing fantastic book covers and for writing memorable blurbs?

More about the Author

Sorcia Dubois

Award-winning author Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with seven cats, two fish, one dog, and one husband. She enjoys a wee splash of single-malt Scotch from time to time and she spends a number of hours each day tapping out paranormal romance, Gothic murder, and Scottish thrillers.

A proud member of the Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at Scottish festivals watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.

Her stories blend legends, magic, mystery, romance, and adventure into enchanted Celtic knots. Halloween is her favorite time of year (she starts decorating in August and doesn’t take it down until February) and her characters tend to be mouthy, stubborn, and a bit foolhardy. Nothing makes her happier than long conversations in the evening, trips to interesting places, and writing until the wee hours of the morning. Well, chocolate cake makes her pretty happy, too.

5 Responses to "Survive Cover Design and Blurb Writing with Sorchia Dubois"

  1. Comment by Vicky Burkholder
    August 24, 2017 5:11 am

    Excellent advice and good survey. You’ve given us a lot to think about and in a way that makes it easy to follow. Thank you.
    One more word of advice I’ll give about covers – think about the colors of the fonts vs. the background colors. A lot of times they bleed together or are in the color-blind range (various shades of the same color) that many people can’t see. For instance, light green fonts on a medium green background.

    • Comment by SorchiaD DuBois
      August 26, 2017 10:48 am

      Thanks, Vicky. So true and this is a pet peeve which I forgot to include. Nothing worse than having to strain your eyes to make out the words because of either a busy background or colors that are too similar. Contrast is the word to remember. Thanks for pointing that out.

  2. Comment by Sorchia D
    August 24, 2017 7:03 am

    Thanks a million for hosting me, FF&P–and thanks, Nancy, for your patience and guidance.

  3. Comment by Robin Deffendall
    August 28, 2017 8:05 am

    Pardon if I state the obvious, but clarity is my #1 cover concern. You have to ensure that I can see what’s going on and–most especially–see the title/author in the thumbnail image on the Amazon sale page. Please also remember that I’m going buy it from the Amazon app on my phone, so the image will be even smaller. Thin delicate fonts or tiny letters are the mark of doom.

    Thank you for indulging me. I’m a new follower and a librarian, so I’ve got some experience in looking at book covers.

    • Comment by Sorchia DuBois
      September 21, 2017 2:01 pm

      You are entirely correct, Robin, and thanks for your insight. I love those artistic little twiggy fonts, but not for book covers.


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