Indie Tips Friday: What to put on the back cover

blogging-bonanza-bugI’m celebrating the countdown to launch on March 28 of Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982 with a month-long blogging bonanza, which means I’ll be blogging here every day this month about my book, about memoirs in general and about the launch.

On Fridays during this crazy blogging bonanza month, I’m be writing about different aspects of self-publishing. Let’s call this Indie Tips Friday. Having self-published two previous books and helped several other authors publish their own works, I have a little experience to share with other aspiring publishers. Today I’m tackling back cover copy.

* * *

To my designer’s eye, back covers are as interesting as front covers. Some are beautiful, evoking just the right amount of information and intrigue. Some are sad, last-minute messes.

When I get to the point of designing a book’s back cover, I  rub my hands together and spend the day playing. Playing with words. Playing with fonts. Playing with leaving out just enough to get a reader to open the book up.

Unfortunately, my books are not in most bookstores, so my lovely back covers are only visited when a potential reader on Amazon clicks on “flip to back,” but for the occasional reader who does flip, I want to impress. Often, I reread the back cover when I finish with a book, so I’m always thinking of that reader, too.

Here are the five parts of an excellent back cover:

Paperback Back Cover with numbers Lo Rez

  1. Genre: I always list this in the top right corner of the back cover. I think belongs on every book. If my books ever were to find themselves in a bookstore or library, I would want them filed in the right place.
  2. Book summary: This is the most important 250 words (or less) you’ll write about your book. For fiction and memoirs, you’ll want to summarize what the book is about, creating suspense, without giving anything away. Ending with a question is never a bad idea. If you have a high-profile quote from a reviewer, that could be placed on the top, but failing that, you might create a headline-type hook, and never fill the page with one big block of gray type (drop cap, anyone? multiple paragraphs at least). You can probably use some version of this copy in other places where a summary of your book is necessary.
  3. Author biography: A picture — almost certainly one of  your face — is required. You’ll be lucky if you have space for more than three sentences. Always keep the potential reader in mind: What does she need to know about you to be interested in picking up this book?
  4. Easter Eggs: These are the secrets of your book you don’t want readers to miss. Mention color maps, reading guides, ancillary products (like ebooks), publisher, publisher’s insignia and/or website. I always add copyright information for cover artwork here, too, in tiny print.
  5. ISBN bar code: Amazon’s Createspace requires a space 2 inches wide and 1.2 inches tall to insert the book’s unique bar code.

Did I miss anything? Is there anything else you as a reader or author would put on the back cover to make the book more appealing? Do tell.


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