Is Your Back Cover Copy Driving Away Potential Readers?

Today’s post is by publishing industry expert, Cheri Breeding.

When I’m looking for a book to read, the first thing that catches my attention is the front cover — whether it’s good, bad, or somewhere in between. After that, I flip the book over to take a peek at what’s said on the back cover. After roughly 10-15 seconds of reading, I know whether I want to buy that book. That’s how crucial effective copy is to the success of your book.

Are you making rookie mistakes that are pushing readers in the opposite direction of your book? Here’s a quick test to be sure:

  • How much time did you put into writing the copy for your book cover? You should spend a good amount of time here. Of course, you don’t need to spend as much as you did writing the book, but you must put some serious thought into crafting the “right” back cover copy.
  • Did you include a hook? A hook is a brief (possibly 5-7 words) statement that “hooks” the reader into wanting to read more. A catchy hook is second only to a strong title (and a well-written book). It usually appears at the top of the back cover.
  • Can your reader get intimate with your book’s topic or characters in the synopsis? Your synopsis should be to the point yet interesting. Ideally, you should introduce one or two (or more) of your main characters/topics in the synopsis as well as provide a bit of background for the story.
  • Does your potential reader know what to expect from your story by reading  the synopsis? If I don’t know what I’m getting myself into with a project, I’m hesitant to get involved. The same is true for books. If you haven’t given me a “sneak peek”, I will be less likely to move forward with the purchase.
  • Are you introducing yourself in your author bio? Make sure to include an author bio that allows people to get to know you on the level you prefer. Your bio should read as if you’re a real person — BECAUSE YOU ARE!

If you find yourself stuck on any of these, it’s better to hire a professional writer to compose these pieces for you. Your publisher may be able to point you in the right direction. For example, at Outskirts Press, we have  service called Cover Scribing where one of our writers compose your back cover copy for you.

DISCUSSION: Do you have any experience with back cover copy gone bad? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.

Tips on Annotation for the Self-Publishing Author

Last week we discussed the book marketing value of professional cover scribing. Annotation provides an avenue to use that externally to enhance that marketing online.

ANNOTATION is used by Ingram during the distribution process. When the book is listed on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website, it’s the annotation that fills the PRODUCT DESCRIPTION/OVERVIEW section.   The ANNOTATION is also restricted in length, although very often can be substantially longer than the Back Cover Copy.  Ideally, the ANNOTATION should be as long and as detailed as possible, perhaps requiring multiple headings to separate elements of the ANNOTATION.  The total character count, including spaces, should be as close to 4000 as possible without exceeding it.   It’s okay to include the author biography again in the ANNOTATION, provided a separate heading (Like “About the Author”) separates the content. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the capability of understanding basic HTML formatting tags, so judicious use of several tags can help an ANNOTATION really stand out.  Two specific tags that should be used are the <b>BOLD</b> tags and the <em>italics</em> tags, both of which can help draw a reader’s attention to specific words and phrases within the ANNOTATION. Bullet point and numbered lists are good here, too.

Whew. Have fun. Keep writing.

– Karl Schroeder