So you’ve painstakingly gone through your manuscript several times, been through a few rounds of professional editing and proofreading, and working with a graphic designer to develop the perfect cover.

Then one day, just when you thought that the work was nearly complete, your designer asks you for the back cover copy. Uh oh… you didn’t forget about your book’s backside, did you?

Back cover copy is one of your book’s most important selling features.

It’s the second thing, after the front cover, that most readers will zero in on when shopping for something new to read. For example, think about when you’re in a bookstore. You see an appealing book cover. What do you do next?

You pick it up, turn it over and read the cover copy!

The same scenario applies online. You see a great cover, and then immediately read the blurb right beside it. It happens every time. Great cover copy is a must!

Many of the editors who skillfully develop your book can often help you create effective back copy. Chances are they’ve written dozens of covers, and know how to angle the selling points of a story. Not only that, they’re already intimately familiar with your book. As a result, your editor will be able to pull the most essential elements out of your story to include in the copy – elements the author may never have even thought of.

But what if you want to try it yourself?

 

Here are some simple guidelines to creating appealing cover copy that will entice readers to keep your book in their hands. We’ll break it down into three elements: About the Story, About the Author, and Quotables.

 

1. About the Story

Like in all marketing copy, which is what cover copy essentially is, there’s a methodology involved. Here are some of the most important elements of that methodology:

• Keep it simple: You’ve got great literal style, but this isn’t the place to show off your gift for flowery language. Again, think of cover copy as more of a marketing piece than a place to show off your writing chops.

• Less is more: The reader should be able to skim the copy quickly, so keep it to between 130 and 200 words, divided into two to three paragraphs.

• Be concise: Great cover copy should hook the reader in with clear but compelling text about the best part of the story, and clearly establish the setting, tone, and genre.

• See the stars: The main characters should be the focus here, with quirky details to make them stand out. Is your lead character a former sea captain, now solving mysteries in a retirement home? Is his buddy a former alcoholic contortionist? Is there a romantic tension between two characters that can be hinted at? Make your book stand out!

• We want more: End in an enticing way, perhaps with a question along the lines of, “Will Jack and Jill make it down the hill, and bring that pail of water in time to save the town from drought?” Make it intriguing!

Remember, back cover copy isn’t a synopsis or outline. It’s a brief blurb meant to draw those readers in. If you’re not sure how to approach your own cover copy, check out some of blurbs on other books in your genre, or consult a professional editor for help.

 

2. About the Author

Yes, this part is all about you! In most cases, it goes right beside your headshot, and is usually one paragraph long. This paragraph is sort of a mini-bio, featuring straight facts relevant to your writing career, or even something quirky that people will find interesting.

You can start off your bio with something like, “A former doctor, Mary Q. Jones has published 12 medical dramas…”. Or, “When not racing his motorcycle , Dan Smith balances a busy family life with sharing exciting fiction with his thousands of readers…”

These short bios are often followed an additional one liner: “Suzie Writer lives in Montreal, Canada, with her husband and two cats named Millie and Mollie.”

Again, this is where readers get to know you on a human level. Liking you through your bio works in your favour.

 

3. Quotables

Do you know a well-known person that would be willing to put an endorsement on the back of your book? If you do, that would go a long way to making your cover copy shine!

All that’s needed is a one-line quote that sings your praises, plus their name and what they’re known for. It’ll give that little hint of “Well, if that person likes this author, the book must be great!”

Quoteables aren’t mandatory for cover copy, but they’re a nice little touch. And every little touch helps, right?

 

Great back cover copy is just as important as front cover design in terms of getting your book noticed. Embrace it!