Tips for Indie Writers: Your Book’s Back Cover

Last week I discussed designing the front cover for your book.  Today, let’s look at what should be on the back cover.  Obviously, what you want on the back of your book and where it’s located on the back cover is entirely up to you, but these are just a few tips to get you started.

Do Your Homework

You more than likely own books, live near a bookstore or live near a library.  And while the last two may not be currently open in your area – thanks to a current global pandemic – if you have a stash of books, you can do your homework just fine.

Just flip those paperbacks over and look at what’s present.  Many hardcover books have dust jackets that may only have a large photo of the author or some image related to the book, but if you find one that has information about the book, use it as well.

Now, of those elements, which ones do you feel would best help to sell your book to a potential reader? Remember, you now have to mentally distance yourself from the creative side of the writing process and get into the writing process’s marketing side.  Think of what’s on the back cover as a sales pitch to the potential reader.  This is your opportunity to sell them on your story and get them to buy the book.  

Let’s examine some of these elements.

The Blurb

Pretty much this a short description of what the story is about.  Lay out the story’s basics, the characters, and the conflict in a couple hundred words or less.  Your goal is to entice the reader to want to know more and purchase the book to read the full story.

If you’re like me and have a hard time not being wordy, write a synopsis of your story, then pare that down to the sentences that lay out the basics and will hook the reader into buying your book.

The Bio

If you want to include your bio on the back, this should also be basic information.  If you want to add more detail, you can always have an “About the Author” page inside the book as well. But a few sentences about you can be useful on the back cover.

The Picture

I think it’s nice to have a photo of the author on the back cover.  This should look somewhat professional since, again, you are selling yourself and your book.  Have a friend or family member – hopefully, one of them takes decent pictures – take several photos of you in different locations and in different outfits.  This way you’ll have choices when you sit down to decide.  

It might be wise to even contact a local photographer and see how much they charge for an hour or so to take a few shots, so you get quality images for your book.

But, please, no selfies.

The Info

Make sure to include your book’s or author’s official website and social media.  This is another way that people can find out more about you and your books. 

The Reviews

How do authors get reviews on a book that’s not even out yet?  Well, if they’re well-known, they have their agent or publisher send out advanced copies to critics to read and then use snippets of those initial reviews on the book.

But if you’re an indie author, you may not have that luxury.  Luckily, there are pay services available where you can have people read and review your manuscript before publishing to get a few review quotes about your book to add to the back cover.

Using a legitimate review service adds credibility and gravitas to your writing, especially since these people don’t know you and can be objective in their opinions about your work.

Besides, putting “The greatest author EVER!” – Mom, on the back may come across as a tad hokey.

While you are using small snippets from these reviews on the back, the full reviews can be used on your website and social media to help promote the book.  

Choose sections of each review with statements that sell.  If you were to pick up this book, what words from those reviews would make you want to read it?  Choose those, then make sure you attribute the quote to the reviewer and their outlet.

The UPC

If you plan to sell your book as a paperback and hope to get it into a store one day, having the UPC code on the back is a wise move.  The publisher you are using will have a template for you to use to explain the dimensions of the UPC (example 1.5” x 2”).  

Make sure you have a white box positioned wherever you want it on the back cover, with the specific dimensions given, so the UPC barcode can be added during printing.

Now What?

Once you are 100% locked into what you want on the back cover, all of this information should be given to your cover artist.  Make sure you describe exactly where you want each element, then once you get a draft back, you can make alterations if needed.

Again, this is your product with your face and name on it.  Make sure it sells you and your story in the most effective way possible.

And now, you should have a professional and sellable cover for your eBook and paperback.

Next week, we’ll explore some more writing tips.  See you then!

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