Part 7 in a Series of Book Marketing and Publicity Tips from Smith Publicity
Nothing detracts more from a book’s appeal than a bad back cover.
Whether your reader is a potential buyer, book reviewer, media professional or someone who wants to hire you for your expertise, your book’s back cover has to communicate to your target audience: buy me, trust me!
Authors often spend months or even years writing their book, yet give little time to what is on the back cover. We’ve seen books with no back cover copy! Summarizing your book into 200 to 300 words can be a daunting task. Here are some tips for improving this vital area of your book.
30 Second Elevator Pitch: If you only have 30 seconds to tell potential readers about you and your book, what would it include? Your goal is to give readers enough information to intrigue them into buying it. What may help is to ask a someone who has read your book to give you his or her 30 second pitch about your book.
Novel: Detailing every character and plot twist is not necessary. Read the back cover copy by your favorite authors in your genre to see examples of how to entice readers without giving away the entire plot. Your goal is to make an emotional connection with the reader so they will want to be transported into your world.
Non-fiction: Tell the readers what they will learn, what problems your book will solve, why your book is different. The goal of a non-fiction book may be to inform, inspire, educate or entertain. Make sure the reader understands what is inside your book—and why you are qualified to write it. Bullet points work well with non-fiction books.
Author Bio: Less is more. Only include relevant information. For non-fiction, make your credentials clear by listing education, work experience, professional memberships, past books and awards. For fiction writers, consider including where or how you grew up, professional experience, writing awards or training, acclaims, past books or information explaining how you came to write your book. For fiction, a sentence or two about your self and past work works. Again, read other bios in your genre to get a sense for what works.
Website/Blog: Include your website/blog so people (especially the media!) can find out more about you and contact you!
Author Photo: If you chose include one, use a professional, uncluttered, current headshot. Keep your audience in mind. We worked with a book geared for children/families in which the author’s pose literally looked like an evil character from a B horror movie.
Reviews: Only use reviews from known, respected sources or credentialed people. Professional colleagues in your field are especially helpful for non-fiction books. It can actually hurt you if you include, “Thrilling page turner! by Amazon reviewer.” It’s better to leave this out. Someone actually submitted a book to us with, “…this is the best book every written--author’s mother.” This could have been funny if it was not serious!
Proofread: Last but not least, although it seems obvious, proofread your text. In the rush to complete what is often the final stage of a book, back cover copy can be neglected. We’ve seen outstanding books marred by typos—even in the title of the book!—and yes, the media and especially book reviewers notice. Front and back cover copy needs to be proofread by professional eyes.
If you are working with a publicist early enough in the process, run the copy by him or her for feedback on content. Back cover copy is crucial for transforming the browser into a buyer. Don’t skimp on this essential piece to your project.