Writing your back cover copy

Writing your back cover copyFront covers attract … back covers sell! You already know that, in fact, everyone does judge a book by its cover. You also know that you have only two or three seconds to attract a potential reader with your front cover. But once that reader picks up your book and flips to your back cover, this is your chance to sell your book. That reader is already interested, and just needs convincing.

Grab your reader’s attention with a catchy headline. Don’t just repeat your book’s title on the back cover. Your headline can be a short phrase or a whole sentence. Just make sure it’s easy to read and to the point.

Tell your reader what a great benefit your book will be. It’ll be easy to use, or fast to use, or it’ll keep your reader up-to-date. It’ll simplify your reader’s life, or make him/her an authority on the subject.

Here’s an example from a book I designed called Tour of Duty: Spanish for Law Enforcement. The target readers are police officers on active duty, a group that needs fast information for potentially dangerous situations. The benefits are in the headline:

Learn useful, practical, and even life-saving Spanish commands and phrases in minutes!

List the benefits
Now write a paragraph or two (or create a bulleted list) setting out the benefits of reading your book. What will the reader gain by reading your book?

Does your book conveniently divide material into sections? Is it the most up-to-date reference? Will it save the reader time? Does it provide valuable advice?

For example, here are the benefits of reading Tour of Duty: Spanish for Law Enforcement:

  • Divided into user-friendly sections for quick reference
  • Simple to follow pronunciation guide and phonetic spellings
  • Removable translated legal forms
  • Designed to fit in your side pocket and sturdy enough to withstand the daily rigors of policing

Testimonials
If possible, include three testimonials or endorsements. Ideally, your testimonials will be from well-known people in the subject area of your book. Be sure to include their credentials after their name.

Someone may want to give you a testimonial, but be unsure about what to write. In this case, write a good testimonial and ask permission to use their name with it.

Here are a couple of examples from Tour of Duty: Spanish for Law Enforcement:

“This is a book no police officer should be without. It has a ton of information and has all the phrases you need to keep you safe and doing your job effectively.”
—STEVEN SARGENT, Police Lieutenant, Worcester, Massachusetts

“This is certainly a no-nonsense book. I found myself communicating in Spanish on the first day I used it.”
—ED FONSECA, Federal Correctional Officer, U.S.B.O.P.

About the author
A page about the author is often placed on the last page inside the book. However, a few sentences about the author (with an optional photograph) can be included on the back cover. If you choose to use a short bio on the back cover, make sure the author sounds like the ultimate authority on the subject.

Publishing information
Your publishing information is usually placed at the bottom of your back cover. This includes:

  • bar code with ISBN number and price
  • website URL
  • publisher’s name and logo (optional)

Bookstore categories
List one or two categories so that bookstore staff will know where to shelve your book. The categories are usually shown at the top left corner of your back cover, but can also be placed at the bottom with your publishing information.

Keep it simple!
When deciding what to include on your back cover:

  • Ask what the main benefits are to your target readers. Leave out everything else.
  • Don’t clutter your back cover with too much information and a busy background.
  • Presenting less information in an easy-to-read type size is better than cramming lots of information into a small type size.

Connect with your potential buyer. In other words, if your book is for children, make sure their parents know why they need to buy your book for their children.

Remember, your back cover copy can be just as powerful a marketing tool as your front cover. Be clear about the benefits of buying your book, and you’ll deliver an irresistible message!

2 thoughts on “Writing your back cover copy

  1. Arlene Prunkl

    Fiona, what about children’s books? Should the copy be written for children, or for their parents who will buy the book? I would write differently for children than for their parents or other adults in their lives.

  2. Fiona

    Arlene, great point! The back cover copy is always written to your target market, in other words, to the person who will be purchasing the book. So for a children’s book, you’ll be selling to an adult. Having said that, children’s picture books don’t usually include back cover copy. The front cover image wraps around to the back cover, and then a bar code is added at the bottom. You might include the publisher’s name or sometimes a tagline or question, but usually the back cover has little or no text on it. A synopsis goes on the front flap of the dust jacket, and bios of the author and illustrator go on the back flap. I hope this helps!

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