NonfictionThe 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.