How to write a back cover for a book

How to write a back cover for a bookThe back cover of your as yet unwritten book can help you write a better book, and write it faster, too.

The front cover has a critical role to play, of course, but today’s post is about the strategic use of the back cover. The back cover copy of your book is your sales pitch to prospective readers and book buyers. You want to be sure to include certain elements so that decision-makers will be led to decide ‘yes’ as they consider buying your book. The more professional your back cover looks, the more credibility your book will earn.

There’s another, critical, use of the back cover of your book – and that’s to make it easier to write the book in the first place.

The back cover text starts with a description of what the book is about. Ideally, it continues with a list of benefits for the reader. If you write the description and benefits BEFORE you write your book, you’ll find they help keep you on track during the writing process. You’ll know where you’re going, so you won’t get lost. And, because you have a description of the final product already, you’ll know when you’re done.

I insist that my coaching clients write a summary of their book early in the program. Generally they write a long one first – 300 to 500 words – because it’s easier to write more than it is to be concise. But we end up with a 25-50 word summary very soon. This summary is used as back cover copy as well as marketing copy in press releases, online retail sites, and elsewhere. You can read more about this in a recent post I wrote about book summaries.

Here are the elements to include on your back cover:

  • Categories (one or two – to help booksellers shelve your book where you want it shelved)
  • Attention-getting headline that leads the reader into the rest of the copy.
  • A concise, enticing summary of what the book is about. This should be 30-50 words or four or five lines.
  • A list of benefits the reader will get by buying and reading/using the book. Aim for 3 to 5.
  • Social proof” that the book is worth buying –
    • Testimonials that come from identifiable people or organizations and
    • Author bio that demonstrates qualifications for writing this book
  • ISBN and EAN Bar code; Price; Publisher logo and website

We choose categories from the BISAC list of categories. However some self-publishing guides suggest a visit to your local bookstore to find out how the bookstore labels the section where you’d like your book to be shelved, and use that label as your category.

The summary and headline should work together like a promo blurb for a movie or TV show – written with a marketing flair to capture interest.

The benefits provide justification to the potential reader/buyer for purchasing your book. They are not buying a book; they are buying these benefits or results or outcomes.

Testimonials can be short and punchy; never too long. Who provided the testimonial is often more important than what they wrote.

Do put the price of your book on the cover.

If you’re writing non-fiction, create the back cover copy – headline, summary and benefits – early in your writing process to keep you focused and on track.

You’ve finally done it; you’ve finished your first novel after years of toiling, typing and researching, and now you are ready to present your masterpiece to the world. The next step is grabbing the reader’s interest with a tempting back cover synopsis that leaves her guessing and wanting more. This is what will sell your book, according to Llumina Press. (See Reference 1.) Although it may seem tough to condense an entire novel into a short paragraph, it is actually somewhat easy. Adhere to specific guidelines when writing a back cover summary to pique potential buyers’ interest.

List on a sheet of paper “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “Why” (see Reference 1). These words are the basic guidelines for any story. Each point also gives you the opportunity to appeal to many different people. Leave a couple of spaces between each word.

Jot down the basics according to the guidelines. Under “Who,” write the main character’s name and profession. For example, “John Doe, marine biologist.” Include relevant secondary characters as well.

Fill in a sentence indicating the basic plot of the story under “What.” This is what the story is about. For example, write “Preserving the habitat of native dolphins.” Keep it basic; do not give away any major plot points or climactic scenes.

Write the location, or setting, of the story under “Where.” If the plot has several locations, go with the one the characters interact with the most. Do not give away anything that could spoil a major point in the story. Instead, choose something basic, such as “Along the African coast.”

Jot down the character’s or plot’s motive under “Why.” What is the character’s motive for accelerating the plot? Write something like, “Due to the over-fishing of areas along the coast, dolphins are leaving their natural habitat.” Or, if the book is more about the character’s morals, stick with something like, “John Doe’s passion stems from untold memories as a captain on the open sea.” Again, do not give away too much. If you give away the character’s entire motivation, the reader will not be surprised by the book.

Organize the sentences and sentence fragments into a discernable paragraph summary. Keep the text provocative and tantalizing; leave the readers wanting more. (See Reference 1.) A short example could be, “John Doe, a troubled marine biologist haunted by his past, takes on a mission that could change his life. Accompanied by the mysterious Jill Waters, an activist with a heart of stone for mankind, John must tackle the African government and his own demons to save the creatures he is most passionate about–dolphins.” Do not get too wordy and do not over-summarize. Llumina Press says to avoid meager copy that does not include “hooks” to bait the reader.

How to write a back cover for a book

I met Casey at the recent Author U event in Denver, Colorado. It’s not every day you run into someone whose specialty is back cover copy for your book. This is one of the most important pieces of copy you’ll write, since it has a lot of work to do representing your book and showing people what’s unique, interesting, or especially valuable about what you have to offer. I asked Casey to point out the big things authors ought to be thinking about when it comes to the back cover, and here’s his response.

Every author knows the importance of a well-designed book cover can never be overstated. However, moments after being engaged by your cover, readers are going to flip your book over to read the back cover.

If your cover is good enough to grab readers, your back cover copy needs to convince them to buy. For authors who self publish this can be a challenge because writing promotional copy many not be their area of expertise. Plus, for many authors it’s never easy to “brag” about themselves and their own work.

Here are seven essential tips that provide you with a success formula for creating back cover copy that motivates your crowd to take action.

1. Start with a headline that makes or implies a promise

Headlines have two simple goals: capture the attention of readers and drive them into your body copy. You don’t need zippy, clever, sexy headlines to do this. In fact, simple headlines are usually the most enticing. Start your headline with an action word and then state or imply a promise of what readers can expect to gain from your book. Here are a few examples.

Learn Newly Uncovered Secrets about JFK’s Murder

Discover How to Think and Grow Wealthy

Find Out What Drives Serial Killers to Act

Thought-provoking questions are also a great way to grab readers.

Are you dying to know who wanted Marilyn Monroe dead?

2. Make your copy “at-a-glance” friendly

If your headline draws readers in, don’t lose them by using large blocks of text to fill out your back cover. Instead, make it “at-a-glance” friendly by employing a liberal use of headlines, subheads, short paragraphs and bullet points. This common sales writing technique creates a lot of open space around your copy, which visually makes it look fast and easy to read.

3. Choose exactly the right voice

Create a definite, confident voice for your back cover. Depending on your topic, your writing should emanate authority, compassion, wisdom, insight, humor, suspense, intrigue, mystery, etc. Choose a voice for your back cover that matches your book and fuel it with emotion.

4. Create a powerful rhythm

Think of the movie trailers you’ve seen for the films you love. They move at a steady rhythm and pace because their creators know they only have one minute to convince you to go watch a two hour movie.

The same can be said for a back book cover. You’ve got one page to motivate people to read your entire book. After you’ve written your back cover copy, it should have a beat and pulse to it that you can snap your fingers to as you read it.

5. Focus on what your book is about – not on what happens

It’s certainly acceptable to write about what happens in your book. However, focus your back cover much more on how readers will benefit from your book. What curiosity will you satisfy? What challenge will you help readers overcome? What itch are you going to scratch?

What thirst will you quench for your audience? What inner desire or need are you going to meet? Describe the human satisfaction and value readers will gain from reading your book. Take your writing to this level and your ability to motivate readers to buy increases dramatically.

6. Stir up human emotions

The only marketing messages that really move us are ones that grip us on an emotional level. Always describe the benefits readers will derive from your book in emotional human-value terms.

Think of it this way: you don’t read about anti-aging skin creams so you can get rid of wrinkles. You read about anti-aging skin creams to get rid of wrinkles so you’ll feel more youthful and vibrant. You don’t read a murder mystery to find out who did it. You read a murder mystery to stimulate your imagination and create a sense of intrigue and excitement within yourself.

No matter what your book is about, your crowd will read it to fuel specific emotions within them. Identify what those emotions are and use your back cover copy to stir them up.

7. Leave them wanting more

This technique requires a little practice, but always conclude your back cover in a manner that leaves your readers begging for more. Wet their beak. Tease them up. Give them the sizzle, but not the steak. However you want to phrase it, conclude your back cover so readers have no choice but to flip through your table of contents as they’re reaching for their wallet.

How to write a back cover for a bookCasey Demchak is an author, speaker and recognized expert at writing highly-effective sales copy for coaches, authors and corporate clients. You can sign up for his free, weekly sales writing updates at www.CaseyDemchak.com.

The statement “never judge a book by its cover” is true because most people don’t stop at the front cover – they continue reading the back cover to see if it grabs their interest. However, we live in a new era where almost 70% of all books are now purchased online (meaning Amazon). This new reality means that your back cover copy is more important than ever before.

When people view a book online, they usually see just a tiny picture of the front cover and the first few sentences of back cover copy. This fact should give authors and publishers a great deal of trepidation. Why? People are deciding whether or not to purchase books based on a tiny picture and a few words of text you create.

Before books were sold online, people walked into a store, picked up a book with their hands, looked at the cover, flipped it over and read the back, then opened the book and read a few pages. Those days are long gone. If you want to sell more books online, you need a good cover. But, you also have to grab people’s attention and make them want to read your book with just a few precious sentences of marketing copy.

The stakes are higher than before, which means you need to get really good at writing back cover copy. Those words may be all that anyone sees on your Amazon page to convince them to buy your book.

4 Simple Steps to Write Better Back Cover Copy

I’ve helped several bestselling authors improve their back cover copy, including both fiction and non-fiction books. There are many ways to develop compelling promotional text. But, if you feel stuck in the process, use these four simple steps to help take your back cover copy to a higher level. Let’s start with non-fiction titles. (For novels, keep reading below):

Step 1. Display an attention-grabbing hook
Start your back cover copy by displaying an attention-grabbing hook in the form of a statement or a question. Use a large bolded font to make the hook obvious to readers and separate from the other text. If you’re new to the idea of creating a book hook, use my popular “What if I told you?” technique for help.

Step 2. Describe the felt need in society your book addresses
In the first paragraph under the top marketing hook, use 1 – 3 sentences to explain the big problem in society and the need for your book to exist. What is the big problem you’ve noticed that is affecting thousands of people? What are the consequences people are experiencing? Don’t get too dark or negative. But, describe the burden that led to the need for a book to be written.

Step 3. Tell the reader the specific payoff of your book
The next step is to transition from the problem to the payoff. Tell readers how your book will inform, inspire, or entertain. Why should people buy a copy? I recommend the transition technique of using the sentence, “This book (use actual title) will help you…” Then, list 4 – 5 bulleted statements that describe specific results people will experience from reading your book. An example could be, “This book will help you…Increase your confidence to control emotions during sticky situations.”

Step 4 – Clarify your credibility as an expert who can be trusted
The final step is about creating credibility in the reader’s mind. Why should people listen to you? Beneath your 4 – 5 payoff statements, finish your back cover copy by using 2 – 4 sentences that provide a brief bio in a manner that explains why you’re worth trusting. List academic credentials, bestseller status, and describe a track record of helping people experience the payoff results described in Step 3.

That’s it. Follow those four steps and you’ve got effective back cover copy. However, keep mind that the small size of paperback books and Amazon’s product pages will limit your word count to a small amount (typically 150 – 250 words.) Brevity and punch are essential to making back cover copy effective.

When writing marketing copy for a novel,
use these two simple steps:

Step 1. Display an attention-grabbing hook
Just like non-fiction titles, start your back cover copy with a strong hook sentence in the form of a statement or a question. Make the hook text stand out at the top. Pick the most suspenseful scene form your novel and form a short hook around the emotion felt by the main character. Make sure people can feel a sense of fear, desire, or heroism. Otherwise, your book hook will be a dud.

Step 2. Tell an emotional summary of the most suspenseful scene
Below your hook, give an emotional summary of the most suspenseful part of your novel. People buy fiction based on emotion rather than logic, so it’s counterproductive to give a boring synopsis of the entire plot. Instead, describe the most gut-wrenching scene using as much emotion as possible in 200 words or less. Build the description to a climax and then leave the reader hanging. Avoid giving away a spoiler, but create a cliffhanger effect and tease the reader to want to know what happens.

Even though most books are now purchased on the Internet, never forget that you’re selling to people. People make decisions based on the language they read. Technology doesn’t sell books. Social media doesn’t sell books. Language drives the book sale. If you want to sell more books, start by hooking people with your back cover copy.

Learn how to write awesome back cover copy and other essential book marketing skills by taking my Book Marketing Master Class. Open to authors of any level and publishers of every size.

“Rob Eagar revolutionized the way I look at marketing my novels and connecting with my readers. His Book Marketing Master Class gave me more fantastic promotional ideas than I knew what to do with. Plus, Rob made sure that I understood each step along with the reasoning behind it and helped me craft a workable timeline to implement everything.”

Dani Pettrey
Bestselling novelist with over 300,000 copies sold

About Rob Eagar

Rob Eagar is the founder of WildFire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors and publishers sell more books and spread their message like wildfire. He is one of the rare consultants to help both fiction and nonfiction books hit the New York Times bestsellers list. Rob has consulted with numerous publishers and trained over 800 authors. He is the creator of The Author’s Guide Series, a comprehensive collection of resources that teaches authors how to sell more books. Find out more at: WildFire Marketing and follow Rob on Twitter.

Comments

Your advice is priceless and extremely sensible. I am a co-author of an upcoming self-help and motivational book called Your New You After 65.

You’ve just made my copywriter’s job easier. Thank you Rob

How to write a back cover for a book

As more authors opt for independent publishing routes, I’m getting more questions about secrets to good book design, production, and layout.

While at F+W, I spent hundreds of hours in cover design/review meetings. Sometimes I forget about the education it’s given me. Here are the 10 biggest things I learned about book cover design during those conversations (and also from seeing the sales outcomes).

Remember: Most people in book publishing believe that a cover is a book’s No. 1 marketing tool.

  1. The title should be big and easy to read. This is more important than ever. (Many people will first encounter your cover on a screen, not on a shelf.) This is such a well-worn cliche of cover design that I have a designer friend with a Facebook photo album called “Make the Title Bigger.”
  2. Don’t forget to review a thumbnail image of the cover. Is the cover compelling at a small size? More people are buying books on a Kindle or mobile device, so you want the cover to read clearly no matter where it appears. You should also anticipate what the cover looks like in grayscale.
  3. Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. These fonts are only acceptable if you are writing a humor book, or intentionally attempting to create a design that publishing professionals will laugh at.
  4. No font explosions! (And avoid special styling.) Usually a cover should not use more than 2 fonts. Avoid the temptation to put words in caps, italics caps, outlined caps, etc. Do not “shape” the type either.
  5. Do not use your own artwork, or your children’s artwork, on the cover. There are a few rare exceptions to this, but let’s assume you are NOT one of them. It’s almost always a terrible idea.
  6. Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. I’m talking about the stuff that comes free with Microsoft Word or other cheap layout programs. Quality stock photography is OK. (iStockPhoto is one reliable source for quality images.)
  7. Do not stick an image inside a box on the cover. I call this the “T-shirt” design. It looks extremely amateurish.
  8. Avoid gradients. It’s especially game-over if you have a cover with a rainbow gradient.
  9. Avoid garish color combinations. Sometimes such covers are meant to catch people’s attention. Usually, it just makes your book look freakish.
  10. Finally: Don’t design your own cover. The only people who should consider designing their own covers are professional graphic designers—and even then, it’s not advisable.

Bonus tip: No sunrise photos, no sunset photos, no ocean photos, no fluffy clouds.

Here are some covers that do not follow these 10 tips.

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How to write a back cover for a book How to write a back cover for a book

How to write a back cover for a book How to write a back cover for a book

How to write a back cover for a book How to write a back cover for a book

Book Cover Template Ideas

It’s no easy feat to capture your book’s essence with a cover page. Title, subtitle, images, colors etc. are all very important considerations. To find the right cover design, that most closely appeals to your readers, we created a database of professionally designed cover templates sorted by writing genres. Here are some of the most popular ones:

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Creating your own book or ebook cover design has never been easier. Simply follow the steps below:

1. To get started click the “Create My Free Book Cover Now” button below

2. Browse our book and ebook cover templates and choose the one you like, or choose a blank canvas

3. Edit the design to your liking by modifying text, colors, images, effects and much more

4. Save and download your book cover design in the file format you need

How to write a back cover for a book

When you consider purchasing a book, either in a store or online, what do you notice first? The front cover grabs your attention. Right? After that, you might flip inside to read the first few sentences of the book, and then venture to the back cover (online the back cover is displayed as the “Description”). Or you may go to the back cover before opening the book. Regardless, the back cover copy is a critical element to selling your book once it’s available for purchase. But first, you can use it to your advantage in your proposal to sell your work to an agent or editor.

An aside: when an author is well-known, the name sells the book. Then you may see endorsements or praise (called blurbs) on both the front and back covers. Endorsements may abound on debut authors’ books, too. But I’m not writing here about endorsements. What I mean in this post is the summary of the book that will turn browsers into buyers.

For nonfiction, effective back cover copy is a quick overview of the book’s topic and goal, along with the takeaway value for the reader. Here is a made-up example:

Have you read Proverbs 31 a hundred times but still can’t relate? Or worse, you might wish she would just disappear like Jimmy Hoffa? Yet you still want to be the perfect — or at least near-perfect — wife? Married for forty years, writer and speaker Mrs. Pleasant Atalltimes shares ten keys to being perfect enough in the eyes of your audience of one — your own husband. In 10 Keys to Becoming the Perfect Woman the author shares tips on how to keep him knowing that, after God, he is the center of your universe. From the big picture, such as being prayerful and of good cheer, along with considering his needs before those of anyone else, to the everyday, such as wearing your best perfume only for him, you will learn tips that will make your marriage a happier and more God-honoring place to live.

While this example is intentionally over the top, in a few sentences, the reader can identify the author, target audience, goal, tone, and takeaway value of this book. In the next moment the potential reader will be able to decide whether or not to purchase.

Now for a fiction example:

Surrounded by cookie cutter mansions and manicured lawns, Virginia Dare is determined to live up to her name. There is no challenge she won’t risk. And that includes avoiding the dull suburban life she believes to be her destiny.

Scarred by a challenging childhood full of upheaval, Lance Bradford wants nothing more than to settle into a predictable, safe routine, and stay there. Part of that stability includes attending a large church in the suburbs, where he is a popular bachelor. But no woman catches his eye until Virginia Dare and he both sign up to help with a church mission trip fundraiser.

As they grow closer through their church work, Virginia challenges Lance to leave his comfort zone through a series of wild adventures, while he fights her restlessness. But when tragedy strikes, both of them must really learn how to live, and to rely on God for real peace as they grow together in love.

The above shows that this novel is a contemporary romance and the couple’s overarching conflicts, plus hints at the dark moment and event that will test the couple’s romantic commitment to each other and their commitment to God. Again, the reader is offered information to decide whether to buy or look at another novel instead.

So the back cover copy is a short pitch. Note that our agency’s guidelines asks for something like this. It can be critical in helping a marketing department know how to sell your book more effectively.

Don’t be surprised if you see your copy show up on the finished cover of your book. Editors will often use the material in your proposal as a basis for what they create in their own marketing copy. Don’t despair if writing such copy is not your strength. Your agent can often help you tweak the material and your editor may also help before they present the project to their committees. Thus it is worth your investment of time and effort to make this the best you can. Who knows? It just might be a key to your success!

Your turn:

What do you think is the most challenging part of writing back cover copy?
Does the back cover copy affect your decision to buy fiction? How about nonfiction?
Do you think back cover copy is as important as endorsements?

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If you are comfortable using templates, we offer Word and LaTeX templates for monographs as well as for contributed books. If you prefer not to use a template, please follow the alternate instructions given under the appropriate template below.

Book layout

When writing a book for Springer, please do not worry about the final layout. To ensure we always keep pace with all the requirements both online and in print, Springer

  • structures the data as XML as the basis for print or conversion into the latest online formats such as for Kindle, iPad, Google Android and smartphones
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What advantages does this mean for you in manuscript preparation? It means you can focus on the structured content and let Springer take care of the rest. We will professionally typeset the book and, with XML structuring, ensure that your content will be available to readers in many formats for many years to come.

A key part of the publication process (and in response to the changing requirements of the book industry), are the standard corporate book covers that Springer introduced for each subject area in which it publishes. These covers provide a strong, corporate brand identity for Springer books, making them instantly recognizable amongst the scientific community. In addition the covers also assist speed of publication, as having standardized versions greatly reduces the time traditionally spent on creating individual book covers for each title.

Springer provides templates for Word users that help structure the manuscript, e.g., define the heading hierarchy. Predefined style formats are available for all the necessary structures that are supposed to be part of the manuscript, and these formats can be quickly accessed via hotkeys or special toolbars.

Note: These templates are not intended for the preparation of the final page layout! The final layout will be created by Springer according to our layout specifications.

The usage of these templates is not mandatory. Alternatively, you may either use a blank Word document or the standard LaTeX book class (for monographs) or article class (for individual contributions) and apply the default settings and styles (e.g., for heading styles, lists, footnotes, etc.).

If you cannot use our Word template:

Springer provides templates for LaTeX users that help structure the manuscript, e.g., define the heading hierarchy. Predefined style formats are available for all the necessary structures that are supposed to be part of the manuscript, and these formats can be quickly accessed via hotkeys or special toolbars.

Note: These templates are not intended for the preparation of the final page layout! The final layout will be created by Springer according to our layout specifications.

LaTeX2e macro packages for

The usage of these templates is not mandatory. Alternatively, you may either use a blank Word document or the standard LaTeX book class (for monographs) or article class (for individual contributions) and apply the default settings and styles (e.g., for heading styles, lists, footnotes, etc.).

Springer Milan has developed macros and templates in Italian language to help you prepare your textbook in Italian.