Once you wow your potential readers with an excellent front cover, the next part of your book that’ll hook them is your back cover copy, which is publishing speak for the information that appears on the back cover. This information usually falls into one of three parts: the sales handle (a one-sentence “Buy me!” piece at the top of the page), a couple paragraphs—usually similar to a book summary—and a shortened version of your author bio.
The goal of your back cover is to turn a book browser into a book buyer. That means you have a limited amount of space to tell a potential reader why your book is worth their time and money. Think that most people buy books online, so they won’t ever see your back cover? The same copy is often used by online retailers when your book is listed on their sites.
Even though you don’t have to write a lot, each word is vital. Back cover copy is sales copy, which means it has to be written with different considerations in mind than what you might put in a quick book summary. Because you’re so close to your book, it’s difficult to know what to include—and what to leave out. That’s why an objective party who’s read your book is the best person to write your back cover copy.
How your back cover copy is written depends on whether you write fiction or nonfiction.
Fiction Back Cover Copy
For fiction, this is your opportunity to introduce characters, setting, plot, and the overarching themes of the book, usually framed around the main character’s driving goal throughout the story. Although it should give a broad overview of the story, it should never contain spoilers for the book. Think of your back cover copy like a movie trailer, giving enough details to interest readers, but not so much to spoil their fun.
Below are a few examples of back cover copy for fiction. The third example shows how part of the back cover copy (the author bio, in this case) can show up on the inside flap of a hard cover book.
Nonfiction Back Cover Copy
For nonfiction, establishing yourself as an expert and differentiating your book from the others written about the same topic will help sell your book. Your back cover copy should answer “Why should I read this book instead of that other one on the same subject?”
If you’re a professor on the subject you’ve written about, for example, your job establishes you as an expert. If you’ve authored another book or won awards, these are also selling points. But establishing you’re worth listening to is only half of the back cover copy: you also have to show why your book is the book to read on your topic.
Remember, almost every potential reader will see your back cover—whether in person or online—so both your back cover copy and author biography need to fit together to really draw in your audience.
Below are a few examples of back cover copy for nonfiction.
How Mill City Press Helps
Mill City Press knows how difficult it can be to write effective back cover copy—and how important it can be to your book’s success. Our experienced team can craft a back cover copy for you, saving you the hassle and headache while giving you a head start in the race toward sales.