Do you remember the last time you went to a bookstore?
You probably browsed the shelves until you found a cover that caught your eye and picked up the book. And if I were a gambling man, I’d bet the next thing you did was turn the book over to read the back cover.
Chances are if the description drew you in, you bought the book.
But what about shopping online?
Did you know that you can view a book’s blurb right on its Amazon Sales Page? That makes your book description a super important marketing tool.
Your book’s description should do more than tell you what the story’s about. It’s one of the first opportunities you have to convince your reader to buy your book.
Your back cover is not just a summary, it’s a special form of ad copy. There are three key areas you need to focus on when writing your back cover. With this in mind, let’s go over how you can create a killer back cover blurb and sell more books.
What Goes Into Writing a Back Cover Blurb?
The first step is determining what you’re going to include in the blurb itself. You’ll want to draw your reader in as much as possible–be tropey and hook them but provide some meat as well.
Imagine that you have five seconds to get your reader hooked. How on earth are you going to do that? With a snappy, interesting hook–that’s how.
This can be a hard one-liner from your story, a catchphrase, or even a solid review quote.
Remember, this is ad copy. You need to set a hook to snag your readers attention, and entice them further. There are many ways to do this. For fiction, paint a scene for your readers. Present readers with a problem and what’s at stake. For example, if you’re a romance author, try something like this:
“What’s worse than waking up next to a hunky stranger? Being married to him.”
And for nonfiction, think about what the reader is looking for and give it to them. Tell the reader what you’re going to teach them or what they’ll walk away knowing after picking up the book. This can either come in the form of a question or statement.
Here are two of my favorite examples from both nonfiction and fiction:
Fitness, money and wisdom – here are the tools. (Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans)
At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People think him bitter, and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots. (Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove)
The Book Summary
This is the meat and potatoes of your back cover. Here you want to write two to three paragraphs to explain what your story is about. This does not mean cram every plot point in or give away surprise twists. Your back cover is not a synopsis.
For nonfiction, be sure to present issues clearly and promise big answers. Your reader should have a clear idea of why they’re buying this book and what they’re going to receive from doing so.
Fiction authors should provide a tantalizing summary that makes readers want to devour the story. Imagine this being just like a movie trailer. You want it to grab attention and convince the reader to make a purchase.
Another key tip: avoid using clichés.
Clichés are well… so cliché. They’re so overused that they might actually discourage a reader from buying your book. An example of this would be starting your blurb with, “Juniper stepped out into the pouring rain. Her heart had been broken one too many times.” Yawn.
Sealing the Deal
As we determined, a back cover blurb is sales copy. And no sale is complete without a close. So be sure to focus as much on your closing as you do your hook.
However, you don’t want to say, “Buy this book now!”
Nothing turns off a potential reader like a hard sell.
Leaving a cliffhanger at the end of your blurb though… That’s a pro move. It makes your readers intrigued about what happens next. And the only way they find out is if they buy the book.
Be Sure to Properly Format Your Back Cover
No matter how well your book blurb is written, it won’t be read if your back cover is poorly designed and formatted.
The saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” only exists in fairy tales. It’s a hard truth to accept but a truth nonetheless.
Fonts, Colors, and Pictures
We’ve all seen those book covers that look awkward. And not in an intentionally good way. Maybe the picture is off or doesn’t suit the genre. It might look cheap or washed out. Or maybe something’s wrong that you can’t put your finger on. And that goes for back covers too.
Either way, you probably didn’t buy the book. Because, as I mentioned, we do judge books by their covers. They are our main marketing tools in this business.
When designing your cover, take into account whether or not your back cover pictures are appropriate for your genre. Don’t forget about the color scheme either. Don’t go around using faded colors for a bold, dynamic novel. And make sure it properly meshes with the front of the book.
Pay close attention to your font selection when writing your blurb as well. Some fonts work better than others. An awesome Serif font may be applicable for your ‘hack-n-slash’ medieval story but look tacky on a nonfiction book about workplace dress code.
A good idea would be to examine what your successful competitors are doing. Note the trends. This will give you some clarity into what works and what doesn’t.
Hire a Pro
We’re not all amazing artists or graphic designers. And if you’re like me and fall into this group, you may want to seriously consider hiring a pro.
Give your book the best chance of thriving–even if you have to spend a little extra money.
Get Yourself Involved…
The back cover is a great place to promote your author brand and become more recognizable in the world of writing.
But a word of caution: the back cover shouldn’t be solely about you–unless you’re a household name such as Stephen King or Dean Koontz. It should be about the book.
However, a nice professionally taken headshot and bio does go a long way. Keep your author bio short, sweet, and relatable.
This is also a good place to showcase a few accolades. A quick quote from a reputable publication or author could do the trick. List down a few prestigious achievements such as Bestseller List, Hugo, Newberry, or other well-known awards. But if you don’t have any of these, no biggie.
Need more guidance?
This is a quick rundown of how to write an amazing back cover blurb. If you’re looking for a more in-depth discussion, head over to Kindlepreneur and check out my article on how to create a back cover blurb.