When it comes to book covers, most people focus on the front. Obviously, the front cover, title, and subtitle of your book are vital elements, since they are what people see first. However, don’t forget about the other side of the book.
After someone picks up a book and looks at the front cover, odds are good that the person will then turn the book over. So the goal of your book’s back cover is to convince prospective buyers that it is worth their while to invest some cold hard cash and actually purchase your book.
The back cover copy is also the beginning of your overall positioning and marketing efforts. Many people write the back cover copy before they write the rest of the book because on the back cover you describe whom the book is for, and why this book will solve their problems. The back cover is an important marketing tool, so you want to choose every word wisely.
These eight elements should be on the back cover of your book:
1. A compelling headline. As with a headline for an advertisement or in Web site copy, you want this headline to reach out and grab the reader. The headline needs to explain what your book is about in just one sentence or phrase. Writing headlines is an art unto itself, so spend a lot of time crafting this element.
2. An introductory paragraph. After the headline, you need an introductory paragraph that builds on the benefits you mention in the headline. Draw the reader into what your book is about and again, explain why this particular book will solve their problem. Determine what it is about your book that makes it different from any other book on the subject and summarize it in this opening paragraph.
3. A list of bullets. The list of bullets explains the benefits the reader will get by reading the book. A great bullet whets the reader’s appetite for more information. The goal is to intrigue the reader, so he is compelled to learn more by purchasing the book.
4. Testimonials or endorsements. These may come from reviewers or peers in the industry. Send out advance review copies to people and ask for endorsements. If you get a fantastic testimonial, it can do double duty as the headline.
5. An author biography. Explain in a short paragraph why you have the expertise and credentials to write this book.
6. The book category. Most books include cataloging information on the back cover at the top. This information comes from the BISAC Subject Headings, which you can find online:
7. The ISBN and barcode. The barcode includes the ISBN, so it can be scanned. In some cases, you may also include the price. Some people opt not to put in a price, so they can test different prices.
8. A call to action. At the end of your marketing copy, you should include one final “push” to purchase the book.
If you spend some time studying book covers, you’ll see that most of them incorporate these elements. Your book should too!