Currently I’m working on the back cover copy of my novel…I think I’d rather go into labor than figure out how to boil down an entire story into a couple of short paragraphs.

It is an important part of the process though. It can either clinch a sale, or not. Nailing good back cover copy is no easy task however. It has to capture that perfect balance of grabbing a reader’s interest, while at the same time not pushing too hard.


I have found some helpful guidelines to abide by along this particular stretch of highway on the way to publication.

Back Cover Tips & Tricks:

Tease, don’t tell: Give enough to spark interest but leave them wanting more. Remember this isn’t a plot summary but an advertisement.

Include elements of your genre: You know what a reader in your genre is looking for when book hunting. Give them their fix!

  • Fantasy: mention the creatures/magic/quest
  • Science-Fiction: weave in the planets/species/ships
  • Dystopian: include the catastrophe/grim world/survivors
  • Paranormal: reference the demons/angels/mythological beings

Avoid block text: Quick snappy sentences and paragraphs no more than a couple of sentences long are best. Think of this as the amuse-bouche, the prelude to the meal. Don’t fill them up on bread.

Introductions: Who is this about? Why should the reader care about him/her? Hint at what makes the protagonist compelling, whether it’s their circumstances or a talent or power.  Reveal some personal aspect. Just like in History class, it’s far more interesting when connected to someone who actually lived that history.

The stakes: Whether love, death, the destruction of the universe, let them know how high the stakes are as related to the protagonist, not just the plot.

Movie trailer on the page: Action verbs. Quick sentences. Words that evoke vivid images. Don’t use big, poetic phrases or deluxe vocabulary. Keep it simple but visceral.

It’s a good idea to read examples of back copy on other books in your genre to get a feel for it. Dissect what strikes you as interesting and what doesn’t.

Some authors advocate starting with a headline to grab interest and pull the reader into the rest of the copy, just like a newspaper headline does an article.

In the retail world of ebooks, the back copy is usually the deciding factor on whether a reader buys your book or scrolls on. Be a good fisherman and dangle the most attractive lure you can.


Want more on this topic? Check out this article for additional pointers and a good template: http://crimefictioncollective.blogspot.com/2013/07/tips-for-writing-compelling-back-cover.html