How To Write Back Covers

As an author the back cover was the most challenging, which is kind of ironic. You would think that writing an entire book would be more of a challenge, but no, the cover was what really stumped me.

However, the back cover can make or break a book. Many people who pick up a book in a shop, skim the back cover and basically decide IF they are even going to read the book! The cover blurb is important, because it is basically an ad to buy your book! You have to entice people, inspire them, convince them the book is worth reading, and do all of that in a few sentences.

The following websites have tips and tricks about back cover writing (although no guarantee on the quality of these tips) to help!

Some other tips that found online were these:

  1. First – Read the cover copy on other books in your genre: Go to the bookstore or a library, pick up books in your genre, and read the cover copy. Take a friend so that you can ask them why they liked certain books. Compare the writing side by side on several books, watching how they build the case for each book – what information they reveal, and that which they keep hidden. You’ll see some books that really grab your attention (and ENGAGE you!) – write down the titles, what you think makes their cover copy successful, and how well the writing on the cover is representative of the impression about the book you get from looking at the cover. Now – think of ways to apply it to your own book. Pay attention to how few words really get to show up on the cover.
  2. Second – Have a friend write a description of your book: Tell your friend about your book – then have them read it. Get them to write a quick description of your book – highlighting elements within your book that they found most enjoyable. This may give you a new set of ideas about what is or is not important in your self published book.
  3. Third – “KISS” – or Keep It Simple Silly – it’s about the quality, not quantity: The best promotional and cover copy doesn’t cover every character, scene, plot twist, or feature of your book. Remember this – the goal of your promotional copy is to ENGAGE your reader, CREATE a desire to buy your book, and DELIVER a brief summary of your book. It’s about being descriptive without being all-inclusive and cumbersome, engaging but not exaggerated. Your cover text should complement your book – but never, ever over or understate what your book will do for the reader.
  4. Fourth – Borrow from your own work: Sometimes it can be very effective (not to mention efficient) to just use passages from within your book. If you’re having trouble cutting your epic novel down into a few brief paragraphs, then skim your manuscript looking for paragraphs to excerpt. Remember that this is most effectively used if you have strong content that can be taken out of context and still make sense. Place the passage in quotes and underneath the quote identify the passage as having come from your book.
  5. Fifth – Got Reviews?: Someday you’ll have lot’s of great reviews – if you happen to have any of them at this point in your career, then by all means, put at least one of those reviews on your cover! Pull the most complimentary sentence or two from the review(s) and put them in quotes on the back cover (or front cover if you have room).
  6. Sixth – Brag a little!: Readers are curious folks – and they want to hear about you as an author. For fiction or other more fanciful works, tell the reader a little about your background (especially parts that may be relevant to your story) and if you have published any other works. On the covers of nonfiction books – you need to establish yourself as an expert in your topic – list your success, affiliations, or even degrees if it’s important.
  7. It will take some time to get your copy written – especially if this is your first time. A couple more suggestions – look at your work as impartially as possible, try to identify features that set your book apart, try to visualize how the copy will look on the jacket and back cover of your book, and last – keep it short. Your promotional copy is meant to give the reader an emotional connection to you and your book – as well as motivate them to BUY it -don’t neglect this often overlooked (and so very important) communication tool for your book.

This article was found online too, on an author forum:

Back Cover Copy is the Welcome Mat to the Front Door of Your Book

By Sari Mathes

The words you place on the back cover of your book are the words that will either walk your book right up to the cash register or march it back to the shelves. Your back cover is the final billboard, a point-of-sale advertisement, and the last piece of promotional material that hits potential purchasers on their way to pay. It can either lure readers inside your pages with well-chosen words or knock the wind out of your sales with faint and feebly phrased copy. Your back cover is an invitation for readers to purchase and wasting that space on anything else won’t ensure you any immediate RSVP’s.

This is not the place to put a book report. The back cover is really not the spot for the story of your life (except for maybe a brief biography with a couple of sentences that capture the essence of you), unless your life story is so compelling that it’s the basis for your book. You have your dedication page to thank your family members for tolerating your mood swings; cover space is not the place for it. Back cover is not the spot for a picture of your pet or for you to list your hobbies (unless this is a book about them). Nor is it an arena to qualify your sources, quash your critics, or question your intentions. Wasting that precious space on anything other than carefully chosen sales copy is like flailing at the air. You might land a couple of punches, but you’re not going to score a knockout.

Back cover copy should be an open invitation to the reader to cross the threshold of a book. It should beckon the reader, tempting him with choice tidbits that hold the promise of the banquet within its covers, wafting the essence of what’s within and making the reader hungry for what’s being served up inside. It should be provocative and engaging enough to hook a reader’s interest, yet not give away so much of the contents so that the bait is gone in just one bite. It should be enough of a tease about what’s inside to force readers to get out their wallets and buy a ticket to see the rest of the show.

Authors often submit synopses when it’s time to develop their back cover copy. No!

Yes, you do want to give a tiny preview of what’s inside, a reader should get an idea of what to expect, but please save the Cliff Notes versions for the Ingram listings. Instead, take a lesson from the internet search engine marketers. Good back cover copy should include significant details that may incidentally appeal to your audience and make the difference between sealing the deal and sending your book back to sit on the shelf.

Giving details about your book without giving away the story synopsis-style should be your goal. Who-what-where-when is a good journalistic formula when used sparingly, but it should only hint at what’s inside. The protagonist is a professor? Academics will identify. The plot involves scuba-diving? There is an ocean of enthusiasts who may jump on board. Your hero comes from Brooklyn? Brooklyn people like reading stories set in their own backyard. Don’t neglect to say whether it is mystery or memoir, fiction or fact. Just save the blow-by-blows of your book for inside its pages and use the back cover to get the reader primed and psyched for what’s inside.

When In Doubt?

Larisa Hunter: “I actually had the editor of my book look at the cover idea as well, It helped me have another set of eyes on it, because the editor had ‘read’ the book and could add things that I did not consider.”

It does not hurt to get as many people as possible to review your book, read it, suggest ways to maximize the back cover and make it spectacular!

It is a good idea to go and look at similar books, and see what they did, find similar wording that you can use to sell the book! Successfully marketing a book can be a daunting process, but Immanion Press/Megalithica Books is here to help! Any author who needs guidance, advice or help can contact Taylor or Storm at any time and they will get you additional help. We also have wonderful editors who will help you through the process of writing, and although she is new, Larisa Hunter is the publicity rep who can provide additional support and marketing help with books.


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