Your best chance at convincing a potential reader to inspect your book lies within the spine, front cover and back cover, so it is important to know the purpose that each plays in the process.
Purpose of the Book Spine
All authors wish it was not so, but in most bookstores your book will be presented spine-out. This is due to lack of shelf space to display all the books face-out. For this reason, the spine is the first thing that a potential buyer notices. Therefore, the spine should also attract the attention of readers so they will take it off the shelf to view the front cover. Spines with images or other intriguing elements can increase your odds of being noticed.
Purpose of the Front Cover
They say that an image is worth a thousand words, but in the case of your front cover, it is worth eighty-thousand words! This one image is your chance to represent your entire story and prepare your reader to get the greatest impact out of your story. Your front cover is pure marketing, and it is your best chance at reeling in a readers’ attention to your book. At first glance, your front cover should clearly communicate what the book is about while grabbing the readers’ attention and convincing them to inspect the back cover. On average, a person spends 5-8 seconds on a cover that they find interesting, in contrast to spending only 1-3 seconds on covers they find unatractive. The aim is for your front cover to ellicit such a powerful response that a potential buyer has the gut reaction to flip it over and read your back cover.
Purpose of the Back Cover
Now that your front cover has convinced them that this is indeed a book worth looking into, you have to keep their focus. People go from the front cover to the back cover with the desire to be convinced that their gut reaction was correct, and that the content of the book will be as good as the design of the cover. Luckily, a potential buyer will look at your back cover a little longer (about 10-15 seconds). If you can convince a reader with your back cover, then it’s just a quick flip through the pages and a walk to the cashier away from making the sale!