Walk into any bookstore, and you’ll see thousands upon thousands of book spines staring at you.
For the average person who is “looking for a good read,” that means they’ll be scanning titles to see which ones appeal to them (usually with their head cocked to the left, to read those titles).
When they come across one that sounds interesting, they’ll pull it off the shelf and examine the cover.
What do they do next?
You guessed it: they flip the book over and read the back cover blurb.
A similar experience takes place online, too, although readers are often seeing the cover and title at the same time. But, once they find a book that looks interesting, they click on it and look for the back cover to read the blurb.
How to Write Compelling Book Back Cover Copy
Amazon started offering the ability to see the back cover in early 2017, much to the joy of self-publishers. As readers themselves, authors understand how the average person approaches buying a book (see above), so they know the importance of a back cover blurb.
What exactly is a back cover blurb anyway?
To understand the back cover blurb, it helps to know what it is not.
- It’s not a synopsis of your book.
- It’s not the description you plug into KDP (although some authors have used it that way).
- It’s not where you talk about yourself more than you talk about the book.
- It’s not the place to write the backstory of the book.
- And, it’s definitely not the place to “give away” the key teaching in your book.
So, what is the back cover blurb? It’s a sales pitch.
Remember those readers at the bookstore, pulling books off the shelf to read the back cover?
They want to know what makes your book unique. They want to know what’s in it for them. And they want to know how you can help them with their problems.
These are the questions your back cover blurb should answer.
In a way, you’re “fishing” for readers. You’re trying to catch their attention and their desire to know more so they will buy your book.
Depending on the size of your font, the size of any graphics used, and the physical size of the book itself, you want to keep it around 150 words.
If you get carried away while writing the blurb, try to trim it down to no more than 200 words.
What should I include in my back cover blurb?
There are three main parts to the back cover blurb for non-fiction books. Since it’s like fishing for readers, we’ll continue with that analogy here.
Much like the opening paragraph of your manuscript, you want to catch their attention in the first paragraph or two.
The right hook will penetrate deep and hold their interest. It will embed itself in their mind to the point where they feel they must know more and keep reading.
Use bold statements that play on the reader’s emotions, share statistics to back up those statements, and point out the problems faced by those who should read the book.
Another good hook is to open with a question, like in the example below.
Try to keep your hook to one paragraph—one very appealing paragraph—and then move on to the next part of the back cover blurb.
The line is what connects you to the reader. This is where you share a bit about what your book will teach them.
Use bullet points to outline the key message you will convey. Notice in the above example, there are five points you will learn from Signs of Emotional Abuse.
Try to limit this to two paragraphs. If you feel the need to “let out your line” you can use three, as long as they’re short. You need to save room for the last component of your blurb.
This is the part that nails it for the reader—the part that makes them say, “This is the book I need.”
It’s a summary of your book’s takeaway. It shows how life can be better for them after reading your book.
It doesn’t tell them how to get to this better place in life, but it states they can and they will get there. Notice the last paragraph in the example below.
Remember to keep it under 200 words because you’ll need to save room for more than just the back cover blurb. Keep your paragraphs short for easy reading—don’t be afraid of white space.
Always keep in mind that you are only luring in your readers, not giving them the whole book. Your writing needs to be succinct and tight.
Avoid clichés and over-used phrases such as “will keep you reading” or “guaranteed.” Stick to the facts of the book and let those do the selling.
What else should be included on the back cover?
A short bio explaining who you are and why you have the authority to write on this topic should be included.
Some authors have opted to mention their credentials within the actual blurb, thus saving room for endorsements by influencers who have read advance copies of the book.
Other ideas for the back cover include a list of books you’ve written, contact info, and your website address. All of this can be merged into the bio, or set apart.
What about fiction books?
If you’re a fiction writer, your back cover should offer a short summary telling what your book is about. If you have a strong endorsement or editorial review, you might want to put it at the top as a headline.
This summary should be a paragraph or two. As with a non-fiction book, your fiction book back cover copy should include hooks. But for fiction, the hooks include the story’s most engaging plot points.
You might also consider ending the summary paragraphs with a compelling, tantalizing question that makes the reader want to learn more like author Kerry Fisher does for her book, The Silent Wife.
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Don’t ignore the importance of the back cover blurb!
You’ll need to decide what the most important thing is for your back cover. Is it the blurb itself? Your bio? Endorsements?
If required, merge your bio into the blurb itself to save room for endorsements. If necessary, use a smaller font and tighten your writing to add more words and as much value as possible to your back cover.
The back cover blurb is often what convinces a reader to buy your book. Use all your writing skills to make it the best it can be.
After all, if you can’t write a good blurb, why would anyone want to read the rest of your book?
What do you put on your back cover? Leave a comment and let us know!