The Truth About The Back of Your Book

It's a mistake authors make all the time. They labor away on their manuscript, editing and re-editing; they even hire someone else to help them. And when they're done, they tentatively put it up for sale.

Without thinking about the one thing that can make or break a book: the sales copy.

Your content will determine if they read the book all the way through and whether or not they buy your next book, but the sales copy is all they have to go on to make their initial decision.

Especially online, where a reader can't pick up your book to flip through and read a sample, the teaser text you include (what would, for a print book, be the back cover) is a big part of their decision to buy or not to buy. That means carefully crafting that little blurb is an important part of the process.

The Parts of A Back Cover

There are three common parts that show up in a book blurb: Reviews, Product Description (a teaser for your book) and an About the Author section.

Each of these plays an important part in convincing a browser to become a reader. Reviews show them someone else has read your book and enjoyed it; a product description gives them an idea whether or not they would too; and the about the author section gives them a moment to "meet" you.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to share how you can perfect each of these. Since book reviews and testimonials are generally the first to appear in the sales copy, we'll discuss those first.

Getting Book Reviews

While I was working at Columbia University Press book blurbs were one of the things I helped with. We'd solicit experts in whatever category the book was in (since CUP is an academic publisher) and have them read the book and provide feedback, which we then used for the back of the book. Whether your book is non-fiction, memoir or a novel, asking others in your genre to read your book and provide feedback for a blurb serves two purposes.

  1. It gains you testimonials, quotes that show how much readers enjoy your book right from the start; the reviews also serve to reassure readers the book won't be a waste of their money.
  2. It adds the name of someone your readers might recognize to your book—and their testimonial. Sometimes a good review from an author a potential buyer knows is enough to convince them to give your book a shot.

Even on Amazon, where readers are encouraged to write their own reviews, it's a good idea to include one or two in the sales copy you submit—it may take some time before readers begin to review your book on their own and soliciting reviews before the book goes live also gives you a chance to use your reviewers as "test readers," and get their feedback.

Always ask permission before including a review in your copy. Sometimes a test reader might want to re-write a sentence or change how they worded something before it's "published." And other times the test reader might be so delighted to be asked that they'll help you promote the book—for free (and who doesn't want that?).

Next week we'll talk about how to condense your entire book into a few measly paragraphs—also known as your book description.


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My name is Melissa Breau & I’m a Raleigh-based tea-drinker and dog aficionado. If you’re local, let me know—I’d love to grab a drink.

By day, I’m a keyboard junkie, and (shameless plug) craft killer marketing content for small business owners far and wide.

By night (and sometimes on the weekend) I help out at several nonprofits, teach my dog new tricks, and try to spend as much time outside in the sunshine as I can.

Before joining the world of marketing I spent several years at various publishing companies in NYC, including both magazine publishers and book publishers. I also earned my Masters in Publishing from Pace University.

Want to chat? Find me on twitter or drop me a line via my website.

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