How to Get a Cheap Cover XVI

So,  we’re working on the horrible back cover, and so far you have your copyright, your barcode (or the blank spot where it will go) and your description, now what? That depends on what you want and how much room you have left.

If you opt for an author bio, my advice is to keep it brief – definitely under 200 words, and truthfully more like 100. So that you can get an idea what that word count looks like, here’s the bio I have been using:


Joleene Naylor grew up in southwest Iowa surrounded by soybeans, corn and very little entertainment – so she made her own. She’s been writing and drawing since she was a small child, with a particular leaning towards fantasy, horror and paranormal. It is this love of all that goes bump in the night that lead her to write Shades of Gray, the first in the Amaranthine series.

In her spare time she is a freelance artist and photographer.  Joleene maintains a blog full of odd ramblings, illustrates a webcomic and hopes to win the lottery.  Until she does, she and her husband live near Bolivar Missouri with their cats and turtles.  However, unless she starts buying tickets she may never actually win anything.


That clocks in at 126 words. I could probably tighten it up even more, truthfully.

So what do you put in your bio? You don’t need to list all your college credits and publishing history to impress your readers; they’ll either be impressed by your book or they won’t, and no list of degrees is going to change their mind.  Neither do you want a bio that is just a list fo previously published books. The place for that is IN the book text after the copyright page,  not in the bio. Instead, if you’re mentioning your other books, only list a couple – go for either the ones that have sold the best, or else ones that are related to this book ie. the same genre/topics. Aside from that, you want your name, maybe where you live, and, if you can work it in, something funny. People love funny. I’ve had a lot of compliments on my bio, simply because I added the part about winning the lottery but never buying tickets.
IMPORTANT!! Remember to write your bio in third person. Don’t put “I live in Missouri”, put “Joleene Naylor lives in Missouri”. Much more professional.

If you want to add an author photograph then go for it, but remember not to clutter the back of the book up too much. Your number one goal is to make it easily readable – all important information should be right there, at a glance. Should you choose to includeone, I do have some tips on your author photo.

Do not:

1. Use a blurry photo that looks like you took it with a cheap digital or a webcam. This looks cheap and “hack”, not the impression you want to give.
2. Use a photo with a lot of background in it. Too much background detracts form the important part – you.
3. Use a photo with obnoxious colors in it. This includes your clothing; don’t wear a super bright, or super patterned top unless you really want that “feel”.
4. Use a photo completely contrary to the feel of your work. For instance, if your book is a romance, you don’t want an author photo of yourself in bobble head be-boppers, instead you’d want a “pretty” or “glamour” photo. However, if your book is a funny book, then bebop away.
5. Use a photo where you’re holding something ie; cigarettes, beer, soda, your other books, etc, unless you absolutely HAVE to. Not only is it distracting, but in some cases, there are brand names. (Think MTV videos where they pixelate out t-shirts). Not to mention that, depending on what they are, the items in question can prejudice, and even alienate, potential readers.


1. Crop the photo. You can do this in any image editing program, or even in photobucket (upload your photo, click on the edit link and use the crop tool, then resave the image and download the cropped version to your hard drive).
2. Use a photo where you’re smiling, even if it’s only a small smile. Smiling photos make you look happier and more enthusiastic about your work, and it will subconsciously carry over.
3. Use a photo with only a few colors that compliment the colors used in your back cover.
4. Have someone else take your photo or, if you have to do it yourself, hold the camera out by extending your arm from the elbow down, but keeping your upper arm as much against your side as possible. This holds your shoulders in a natural position and makes it appear as though someone else took the photo.
5. Consider using a single color “frame” around the photo to set it apart from the background.

And now for the Handy Links we all love 🙂

Online photo editors:
Pic-Nik –
Photobucket –
Foto flexer –

More Photo Tips:

How to take flattering photos of yourself –

A guide to taking better pictures:

2 thoughts on “How to Get a Cheap Cover XVI

  1. Ruth Ann Nordin April 25, 2010 / 4:45 pm

    So wearing a t-shirt that says, “I Kill Snarky Reviewers” is out? 😉

    I think funny definitely works in your favor. I remember that author whose bio included “She earned her B.A. from the school of Motherhood and is working on her Masters in Whining and Repetitive Questions. I only read one of her books, but I remember exactly who that author is and do have more of her stuff in my TBA pile. So humor can also help readers remember who you are.

    • joleenenaylor April 26, 2010 / 3:57 am

      ha ha! If you have a t-shirt like that then let me know where you got it 😉

      Yep! I have to say MySpace blogging has taught me a lot. My most popular blogs are the ones where people got to play voyeur and read about some miserable horrible thing, followed closely by the funny ones. Since you don’t want your bio to be some miserable thing, that makes funny the next best option 😉

      and good point! a memorable bio is one that is doing it’s job!

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