Your Back Cover = Prime Real Estate

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your back cover = prime real estateHave you ever seen a dinky little shop on a busy intersection and wondered why there wasn’t a bigger business there to capitalize on all that great drive-by traffic? An intersection is prime real estate for a brick and mortar retail store. If you are a nonfiction author, especially with a print book, you need to know that Your Back Cover = Prime Real Estate.

We often tend to forget that we even need back covers when all we see are front cover thumbnails in an Amazon listing. But all of those books that are not just e-books also have to have a back cover when the book is printed. And when those books are on a bookshelf at a bookstore, the back cover copy is even more crucial.

Judging a Book by its Cover

Your book cover is not just a place for you to put images that YOU like and pictures of yourself. It is a marketing piece that should be designed to attract readers to your book. The front cover needs to grab the reader’s attention, and the back cover needs to compel them to buy. Cover content needs to be strategic and magnetic. Don’t leave it to chance.

Marketers say that readers spend only three seconds looking at the front cover of a book, and an additional eight seconds on the back cover. If you do not capture your reader in that time, your book could end up back on the shelf.

What’s in a Cover?

Before you start to write your back cover text, you should think about your reader. Who are they? What drives them? What are they looking for in a book? What problems will your book solve for the reader?

Once you have a feel for how your book can address that reader’s needs, you can begin to express the benefits that your book provides. Buyers are attracted to what is in it for them, not the features of the book. They want to know how it will help them, what will change for them after reading your book, how their lives will be different, better, more successful, more exciting, or more profitable. Your back cover copy can tell them this.

You can find all manner of advice on what to include on your cover. I encourage you to seek it out. I believe it is that important. There are several elements that I believe should be present on your back cover. They are:

  • A gripping headline: Perhaps one that asks a question that readers of your book will want to know the answer to. Often this question touches a pain that they want a solution to. It could also be a startling fact that they want to know more about.
  • A brief overview of what the book is essentially about. This helps readers to determine if the book addresses what they need to know.
  • Benefits of reading the book: These are four or five specific benefits that the reader will gain from reading your book. “This book will help you to: …” or “If you ever wondered how you could…”
  • Social proof: We are often convinced by the recommendation of others. Are there other noteworthy individuals who have endorsed your book and provided a positive blurb for you? Ideally, these are people in the industry that you are writing about, but they can also be credible professionals or contacts in other areas. Reviewer quotes are useful. Reader quotes can be used if needed.
  • Call to action: What do you want them to do? Buy this book! Give them a command that they will want to follow given the promises you have made, the information you have shared, and the results others have had.

Action Words

Your back cover should use words that grab the reader and tug at their emotions, pique their interests, or stimulate their desires. Use active verbs. Find emotionally charged words like imagine, discover, and learn. Encourage them into action with phrases like “get this book now” or “discover your strengths” or another compelling call to action. Your words have power, so use that power to grab your readers. Remember that your back cover = prime real estate, so don’t just write up a quick book blurb and throw it up there. Choose your words carefully, and always have someone else (preferably a professional book editor) review your cover before you go to print. Look to Hallagen Ink for that and mention this blog post for a special deal on a review of your back cover copy.


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Your Back Cover = Prime Real Estate — 8 Comments

  1. Thank you for this insightful post, Tanya. I have not taken full advantage of my back covers and now I am rethinking this. It seems that it was an afterthought for me each time, and I just threw something together quickly. I will not do this for my next book!
    Connie Ragen Green

    • Connie, it is good to hear that you will take note about your back cover in the future! It really is important for potential readers who come upon your book from other sources. They need to see the benefits of taking their time to read your book, and your back cover is the way they will learn what is in it for them.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Ron. This concept is so important for first-time authors. I always encourage my first-time authors to send their book covers to me for review before they go to print. It is such an important part of the overall publishing process because your back cover = prime real estate.

  2. Tanya,

    Thank you for such a detailed strategic approach to the back cover of designing a book. These are things I would have never thought about!

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