By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning content writer and author who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
What goes on the back cover of a book? I’m not talking about design. Both the front and back cover of a book need quality graphics and typography to pull in readers.
And when it comes to look and feel, the front and back cover of a book should complement one other. Hexadecimal color codes or serif fonts versus sans serif fonts are important considerations. But all that artistic mumbo-jumbo lands smack in a designer’s arena.
But what about the content on the back cover of a book? Clearly, it’s important. You’ve seen the scenario dozens of times in a bookstore or library. A reader plucks a book from the shelf and scans the cover. Intrigued, she flips it over to read more on the back. Now, she’s truly interested. So much so that she opens the book to inspect the table of contents …
“The front cover gets them interested,” says Tucker Max, 4-time NYT best-selling author. “Then the back cover helps the reader decide whether or not they want to go any further.” You want to help that decision in your favor, don’t you?
Four pieces of content grace the back cover of a book. How you write yours helps readers step over the line and decide, “Yes! I most certainly MUST read this.”
Use these tips as you write the back cover of your book so prospective readers place your book on their not-to-miss list.
Whether you write a tagline or a teaser, readers are drawn to this short snippet on the back of your book. Your designer will likely place it in a large font – one that pops out. Do your part to make your teaser or tagline earn their keep. Treat this content like a headline to draw in readers.
What do you call the summary on the back of a book? Some publishers refer to it as back cover copy because it’s written to persuade. Occasionally it’s referred to as flap copy, given that it’s printed on a hardcover’s dust jacket.
No matter what you call it, the book summary is the most-read element on the back cover of a book.
Here’s the key tip to remember as you write the book summary: it’s not a synopsis. Instead, your blurb on the back of the book shows the reader what the book will do for her.
How long should your book summary be? About 150-200 words. No more. Remember – this is just one element on the back of your book. And you don’t want to give away the store. You want your book summary to intrigue or entice the reader to read the book.
And your book summary can do double duty. You can use it as an elevator speech as you talk about your book with editors, agents, promoters, and on social media.
Why are you the person to write this book? Note that I didn’t ask if you’re the ONLY person who was able to write the book. These days, anyone can put words on paper and paper into a print-on-demand or Kindle edition.
But consider why you’ve done so. It’s in these 100 words or less you need to tell the reader a personal or specific reason you can speak with authority about the content in your book.
Your designer may also ask you for a headshot to incude in your author’s bio.
Book reviews are gold – especially if the reviewer has notoriety or qualifications. If you’re fortunate enough to have beta readers review your book, pull a few choice comments and include them on the back cover of your book. You can even get book reviews for free.
Flip over any hardcover or paperback and on the back cover, you’ll see a barcode representing the book’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number.) It is a unique 13-digit number assigned to a book that allows for accurate and efficient tracking. How do you get one for your book?
Be aware that your book’s ISBN and the barcode are two different things. The ISBN is an actual number. The barcode is a visual representation of that number – one that is scannable.
Take a look at the different elements on this back cover of a book so you have a few ideas as you write your own.
More tips for writing a book
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