The most important part of your book’s back cover is the cover blurb. This is the text on the back of the book that attempts to convince a potential reader to purchase the book. To a degree, it tells about the book, but it is more advertising than synopsis.
Once you’ve hooked a reader into actually picking up your book at a brick or mortar store, they’ll likely check out the back cover blurb to see if the book matches what they’re looking for. If writing a novel, the reader might want to learn that there’s lots of action and adventure or perhaps a character undergoing a significant ethical crisis (Much of what the reader is looking for depends on the genre). If writing nonfiction, the reader probably will want to see if the book contains answers to all of the questions in her mind about the subject.
There are no hard and fast rules about writing a cover blurb except that you should thoroughly think about who your audience is and how to best appeal to them in fewer than 200 or so words. You may want to read the cover blurb of several published books in your genre to get a feel for how other authors or marketing wings of major book companies are attempting to accomplish that. You’ll probably notice some common denominators.
Typical elements of a cover blurb include:
• Headline – This line or two aims to pull the reader into checking out the rest of the blurb and usually is in all caps and in larger type than the text that follows. For example, you might write “The aliens came bearing gifts” or “Sophie swore she’d never fall in love again.”
• Compelling paragraph – This can take a variety of forms. It might be a few intriguing lines of text from the book that establish the novel’s central problem or dilemma. It could be positive quotations from reviews. It can be a list of interesting characters and their traits or personal issues.
• Intriguing synopsis – In three or four sentences at the most, summarize the book, focusing on the central problem or major ethical dilemma facing the main character. Don’t give away the ending, though!
• Encouragement to purchase book – At the end of the blurb, in a larger point size than the text before it (but smaller than the headline), encourage readers to purchase the book, such as “An all new stunning novel by Randy Polk!” or “This is your field manual to hiking with kids!”
If possible, sneak the book’s title and author into the blurb.
The blurb can double as a “description” of the book on your website or your Amazon.com page. For example, the back cover blurb of my book Hikes with Tykes with some minor modifications also is the wording on my website’s home page and is used as the book’s description at Amazon.com.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.