The Oh-so Neglected Book Spine

Years of experience in the publishing industry have shown us that you can, in fact, judge a book by its cover. Because today's consumer is so visually motivated, even if your book is pure perfection on the inside, what it looks like on the outside can make it a flop. As Shayna Krishnasamy, Kobo Writing Life Merchandiser, puts it, "That your book's success depends so heavily on something that has nothing to do with its contents might be a hard nut to swallow, but it's a reality that can't be ignored."

Significant thought and effort have to go into conceiving the right cover for your book and its genre. From font choice, image selection, colours used, layout, flaps, and more – no stone must be left unturned. But what about the spine? How much attention does that critical side-facing piece of your cover get? Often, not enough, and that's a big oversight, especially if you're self-publishing a print book.

Big publishing houses have the resources to pay for face-out cover placement on bookstore shelves, but this often isn't the case for the self-published author. As a result, the first thing a potential book buyer will see is your book's spine, and that makes it a pretty important component of your cover design.

What makes a good spine? Colour is important, as is font choice and size, but a well-designed spine is also interesting to look at. Sure, it has to feature the book title, your name, and your publishing imprint, but why stop there? Think of the spine as a miniature, narrow extension of your book's cover. Use artwork, graphics, and interesting elements to make your book's spine stand out from the others on the shelf. Simple test: take a look at your own bookshelves; which spines are not only the most legible but also the most eye-catching? Ultimately, that's the effect that you're after.

So, do pay proper attention to the design of every facet of your book cover, including the spine. We wouldn't want you to lose out on sales because of poor spine design (or worse, have your book end up here: Lousy Book Covers).