9 Secrets to Writing Great Back Cover Copy

The one aspect of a book marketing campaign authors ask me about the most is how to organize and write strong back cover copy – and for good reason.

Every author knows the importance of a well-designed book cover can never be overstated. However, moments after being engaged by your front cover, readers are going to read your back cover.

If your cover is good enough to engage readers, your back cover copy needs to convince them to buy.

For this reason, your back cover copy is a crucial element in your book marketing success. Writing it deserves a lot of time and attention.

Given its importance as a marketing tool, I’m going to present you with nine essential elements for creating back cover copy that grabs readers and motivates them to buy.

1. Start with a headline that makes or implies a promise

Headlines have two simple goals: engage the attention of readers and drive them into your body copy. You don’t need zippy, clever, sexy headlines to do this.

In fact, simple headlines are usually the most enticing. Start your back cover headline with an action word and then state or imply a promise of what readers can expect to gain from your book. Here are a few examples.

Learn to Shift Smoothly into a Champion’s Mindset
Discover How to Generate Unlimited Wealth
Find Out What Drives Serial Killers to Act

Thought-provoking questions are also a great way to grab readers.

Did LBJ Know JFK Would Die in Texas?
Know the Secret to Attracting Success Like a Magnet?
Could You Escape from the Most Dangerous Place on Earth?

2. Make your copy “at-a-glance” friendly

If your headline draws readers in, don’t lose them by using large blocks of text to fill out your back cover. Instead, make it “at-a-glance” friendly by employing a liberal use of headlines, subheads, short paragraphs and bullet points.

This common sales writing technique creates a lot of open space around your copy, which visually makes it look fast and easy to read.

3. Chose exactly the right voice

Create a definite, confident voice for your back cover. Depending on your topic, your writing should emanate authority, compassion, wisdom, insight, humor, suspense, intrigue, mystery, etc. Choose a voice for your back cover that matches your book … and fuel it with emotion.

4. Create a powerful rhythm

Think of the movie trailers you’ve seen for the films you love. They move at a steady rhythm and pace because their creators know they only have one minute to convince you to watch a two-hour movie.

The same can be said for your back cover copy. You’ve got one page to motivate people to read your entire book. After you’ve written your back cover, it should have a beat and pulse to it that you can snap your fingers to as you read it.

5. Focus on what readers will gain from reading your book

It’s certainly acceptable to write about what happens in your book. However, focus your back cover copy much more on how readers will benefit from reading your book.

What curiosity will you satisfy? What challenge will you help readers overcome? What itch are you going to scratch?

What thirst will you quench for your audience? What inner desire or need are you going to meet? Describe the human satisfaction and value readers will gain from reading your book.

6. Stir up human emotions

The only marketing messages that really move us are ones that grip us on an emotional level. Always describe the benefits readers will derive from your book in emotional human-value terms.

Think of it this way: you don’t read about anti-aging skin creams so you can get rid of wrinkles. You read about anti-aging skin creams to get rid of wrinkles, so you’ll feel more youthful and vibrant.

You don’t read a murder mystery to find out who did it. You read a murder mystery to stimulate your imagination and create a sense of intrigue and excitement within yourself.

No matter what your book is about, your crowd will read it to fuel specific emotions within them. Identify what those emotions are and use your back cover copy to stir them up.

7. Leave them wanting more

This technique requires a little practice, but always conclude your back cover in a manner that leaves your readers begging for more. Wet their beak. Tease them up. Give them the sizzle, but not the steak. Always conclude your back cover so readers have no choice but to flip through your table of contents as they’re reaching for their wallet.

8. Endorsements

If you’ve collected reviews or endorsements from public figures, trade papers, well-known industry professionals, or respected literary publications – make room for at least one or two of them on your back cover!

Put simply, if “you got ’em, use ’em.”

9. Add your bio

Although it isn’t an absolute necessity, most authors include a two- or three-line bio in the lower portion of their back cover copy.

There you have it. Master writing these nine key copy elements, and you’ll have back cover copy that helps you sell more books.

Until next time, take a lot of action and make things happen!



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