Proofreaders who work with publishing houses or self-publishing writers are exposed to a variety of content. In addition to working on manuscripts, you can also proofread book covers for errors. In this post, you’ll learn how to proofread a book cover. You will discover the different elements that make up a book cover, and what to look for as a proofreader. There is a proofreading exercise for you to test yourself. Remember to download the answer key so you can check your work!
First, to proofread a book cover properly, you need to know what the different elements of a book cover are. This is important to know because each section has a purpose and contains different information. After you learn the elements of a book cover, we’ll dive into how to proofread them.
Elements Of A Book Cover
When you proofread book covers, there are 5 sections that need to be checked. They are:
1. Front Cover
The front cover of a book is the most important section of a book’s overall design. A compelling, great book cover can attract and prompt a reader to pick it up and learn more. It is a combination of art, graphics and text. A lot of thought and creativity goes into the design, making them works of art.
It is common now to see variations of a book cover. Publishers can use different designs for the eBook, hardcover, and paperback versions of a book. This is to elevate the value of a particular title; usually this is done with popular books that are going through another print run. A book that has been made into a movie, or has made it onto a well-respected booklist (like Oprah’s) is another example.
2. Inside Front Flap
The front flap is what you find folded over the front cover of a hardcover book when you open it. You can also find them as part of a paperback’s design. However, most paperbacks do not have inside front flaps, and only consist of the front and back covers, and the spine. The inside front flap can have reviews, blurbs from other writers, or even a summary of the book if it’s not already on the back cover.
Even though it is a small part of a book cover, spines play an important role. In bookstores, due to the limited space on shelves, many books are presented with the spine facing out. As a result, book spines are designed intentionally to grab the reader’s eye. Since there is only room for text, the spine needs to be error free.
4. Back Cover
While the front cover of a book can attract readers and even make a book a collectible item, the back cover is where they learn more about the contents of the book. The back cover is where you can find a book blurb, author bio, ISBN number, reviews, price, and publisher information. Often, the copy on the back cover can influence whether someone will buy or borrow a book.
5. Inside Back Flap
The back flap is minimal in design and usually contains information about the author or more book reviews.
How To Proofread A Book Cover
When you proofread a book cover, there are certain things you are going to look for and correct:
Book covers are a mix of creativity and marketing. There isn’t one standard way for them to be designed, which is great because beautiful and unique book covers are art. They can contain some or all of the elements mentioned above in this post. I’ve proofread thousands of book covers, and below are my tips for proofreading them.
When proofreading the front cover, you want to make sure there are no spelling mistakes in the title, subtitle, and author’s name. If you are familiar with the author and believe you already know how to spell their name correctly, it is good practice to double check with the publisher’s style notes. You never want to assume the correct spelling of anything, especially a name.
If there is a book review, double check the name of the publication or reviewer. Keep an eye out for spacing. Are there any letters or lines of text overlapping each other? That can make the text difficult to read and should be pointed out to the client.
The spine contains the book’s title, the author’s name, and the publisher’s logo. All of these elements should be free of errors and centered within the spine parameters.
The back cover has more text than any other part of a book’s cover design. Every book is different, and can contain various kinds of content. Some back covers have multiple book reviews. This is done by publishers to show readers that the book is popular, well written, and worth the read.
Back covers can also contain a book blurb, aka “back cover copy”. If you’ve ever flipped a book over to read the back, you know that the book blurb is a summary of what the book is about. For a fiction novel, it is a description that builds up the story and shares just enough to entice you to read more and find out what happens. For nonfiction, the copy will summarize what you will learn and how it can transform you.
Sometimes there is a mix of both reviews and a short book blurb on the back cover. Author bios can also be featured on the back, along with a picture of the author.
Specific Book Details
These are details provided by the publisher like price, ISBN number, and the publisher’s name. You always want to check these elements with the information provided by the publisher.
Proofreading eBook Covers
Ebooks do not have all of the elements that print books do. There is only a front cover to proofread. However, the same level of attention should be applied. Make sure the title, subtitle, and author name are correct. Even though it is a flat image, an eBook cover has just as much of an influence on whether or not a book will be purchased.
Exercise: Proofread A Book Cover
Your Next Step
If you’re ready to learn more about working with books, and other kinds of content, as a proofreader or copy editor, we have a free training masterclass that will show you how to start. You’ll learn what skills you need to learn to be profitable and how to build a sustainable editorial business.