Make the Most of Your Book Back Cover With These Tips

You have heard over and over from experts and read online how important your front cover is.  It is true.  How your cover looks is even more important that what you write inside the book. Because if your cover is not terrific, then no one will ever know how brilliant your writing is. It is… [Read More]

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

You have heard over and over from experts and read online how important your front cover is.  It is true.  How your cover looks is even more important that what you write inside the book. Because if your cover is not terrific, then no one will ever know how brilliant your writing is. It is the front cover’s job to convince a potential reader to flip the book over and read the back cover.  It is the job of the book back cover to convince a reader to flip open a book and read a few pages.

Don't Neglect the Back Cover

Our job as authors/publishers is to convince readers that our books are wonderful. The back cover is one of our best tools to do that. Too often, we try to get EVERYTHING we want to say about ourselves and our books onto the back cover.  We cram too many words into too small of a space and when we want to get it to fit, we shrink the text size. That is not how to entice someone into reading your back cover copy. Think about how magazines use space and headlines and large font sizes to lure their readers in. We should be emulating those same practices.Before you write that back cover copy, ask yourself the following questions:

1 - Does your Bio and picture NEED to be on the back cover? Are your bio and picture going to convince someone that your book is terrific?

2 - Do YOU read tons of text, in small type, smashed together with no line spacing to give your eyes a break? Or do your eyes gloss over the words?

3 - Do you read headlines on Magazines, Newspapers, and Online?

Let’s use the answers to form the content of your book back cover text.

For small press and self-published authors, WHAT to put on the back cover can be a hard decision.

Nonfiction Book Back Cover

Here is my formula for a nonfiction back cover that has a terrific chance of convincing a reader to open your book:

1 - Big, bold, exciting headline: LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT DIETING

2 - List 3-5 questions that will allow the reader to identify with an issue. (Are you struggling to lose weight? Have you lost and then regained the weight before? Do cravings and hunger plague you when you are trying to lose weight?)

3 - Write 3-4 sentences addressing the problems listed in those questions.

4 - Write a short paragraph describing the book and giving the reader a list of benefits they will receive when they read the book.

5 - Only put your bio on the back cover if your experience and credentials will sway a potential reader. If you are an MD but you wrote a book about tulip arranging, perhaps it is not necessary to use space on the back cover. You can include all of your information on the ABOUT THE AUTHOR page on the last page of the book.

Here is a BEFORE example of a back cover of a terrific book that was not using the back cover to its optimum effect:

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

Here is the same book with an optimized back cover:

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

See the new focus of the text and questions?  See how the flow draws the eye to each element in turn?

While the author’s photo was not HUGE, it was still taking up space and drawing the eye away from the benefits of the book.  In THIS case, we decided to leave the author bio on the back because we knew that the author’s credentials and experience would greatly enhance the book’s credibility.

Fiction Book Back Cover

Fiction copy is a VERY different type of writing with VERY different goals. Start with the statements that will most appeal to the reader and most convince them to buy the book. This means that before pen hits the paper (or fingers hit the keyboard), the author should determine what the readers are interested in and then match their copy to those interests. Here is my formula for a Fiction back cover that has a terrific chance of convincing a reader to open your book:

1 - Big, bold, exciting headline. There HAS to be a headline. Think “Movie Trailer” when writing the Headline.  (“In a World Where Woman Cannot Own Property….”)

2 - A description of the BIG ISSUE in the book’s plot that will drive the reader to want to know more

3 - Have one or two GLOWING quotes about your book.

Again, unless you are a BIG name in fiction, there is no need to put the author’s photo or even a bio on the back cover. Put your bio, photo, and information on the last page of the book and save that amazing real estate on the back cover for showcasing the benefits of your book.

This author used the space that would usually go to a bio for an endorsement instead. This is a terrific idea for new authors who want to increase the reader's comfort level that the book is well written.

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

For fiction authors, another way to go is to take snippets of all the nice things folks have said about your or your previous work and put them on the book back cover. In some cases, ringing endorsements and rave reviews will do a LOT more to convince a reader that your book is worth their time and money than a description. 

See if you have some enthusiastic quotes about your writing that you can use on the back cover such as the author did here:

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

So there are my suggestions for great book back cover copy. As we go through the publishing process, remember that every decision we make should be based on the following idea: “What would my reader want to know to decide to buy my book?”


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7 thoughts on “Make the Most of Your Book Back Cover With These Tips”

  1. Good advice. I’ll offer yet another. Demonstrate that your book is professional by sharing a common theme, front and back. That means using the same or a similar background color on both, along with complimentary images and a text description that builds to what the book’s front cover already says about the book.

    For instance, with my latest, my original efforts to come up with a cover came to naught. The book’s primary audience was hospital staff, but every stock photo I found of a random collection of hospital staff looked dull. Then I had a brainstorm. The book is about the issues that embarrasment creates in a hospital. Why not flip my cover to feature the only patients who don’t feel embarrassment—small children. For that I found two marvelous pictures of the same kids—probably a brother and sister—playing doctor.

    https://www.amazon.com/Embarrass-Less-Practical-Students-Hospitals/dp/1587420929

    Notice how smoothly everything fits together. Using the same kids on both ties the front cover to the back. The same white background goes well with their white hospital attire. And the back cover copy expands on their pictures, starting with: “Ah, if only a hospital stay were as much fun as playing doctor was as a child, then everyone from patients to doctors and nurses would be much happier.”

    Notice how each element builds on the previous in the order readers will view them. The title “Embarrass Less” is pithy but open to a host of meanings. The subtitle, “A Practical Guide for Nurses, Students, and Hospitals” makes the book’s purpose clear. The back cover text expands that still further by offering reasons hospital staff might want to read it.

    I was even able to close with “And if you’re a patient, you might offer it as a gift to your caregivers.” Adding “Patients” to the subtitle would have been counter-productive, particularly given that the subtitle was already long. But mentioning patients will, I hope, result in more customers. That suggests a useful point. Make the front cover and title appeal to potential readers. On the back cover, include reasons why someone might buy the book as a gift for someone else.

    One final note. My book mentions that it’s part of a “Hospital Series,” which is true. But each book in that series stands alone, covering a different topic, so I saw no need to mention the others on the back.

    But if your book were part of a series that does need to be read together, you might mention that. Stating that “This is the third book in the Inglewood romance series” will steer them to the first. You might even want to make “The Third Book in the Inglewood Romance” a part of your subtitle to make sure no reader is disappointed by reading out of order.

    In short, if you want to convince potential buyers that your book ‘hangs together,’ create a cover that hangs together.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

  2. Amy Collins says:

    Great advice Michael! Good catch with the series advice. That info also belongs on the FRONT cover.

  3. Wonderful post, Amy. I especially like your advice for nonfiction books. What you say makes so much sense. I’ll be changing how I write my back cover copy in the future.

    1. Amy Collins says:

      Thanks Frances,

      High praise coming from someone I respect as much as you!

      Amy

  4. Profile photo of Tyler D Tyler D says:

    Excellent post — everyone focuses so much on the front that they can miss this crucial area.

  5. Another great article – thank you, Amy!

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