Last week I watched a webinar from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA): “Back Story: Back Cover Copy That Sells” with Lee Silber. The recording is available free to IBPA members here: https://www.ibpa-online.org/page/pubuniversityonline. (Non-members were able to sign up for the live webinar, so there may be a way for them to pay for the recording as well, but I don’t know.)
I had thought writing cover copy was simply about creating a good hook to snag readers, but the webinar introduced many more factors to consider. Here are some that I found particularly useful.
Some of the points stressed in the webinar are ones I have heard before. But I had heard them in other contexts, like writing blog posts. I had not considered applying them to a book’s back cover.
- Put the most important information at the top, in larger text, then work your way down
- Focus on one main idea, and let your excitement shine through
- If you use bullet points, 3 is best; otherwise use 5 or 7
- Keep things simple and clear
- Focus on the reader and what the book can do for the reader
Consider the Audience
Lee brought up some interesting points about audience, such as the following.
- Baby Boomers value status and credentials, so you’d want to include a bio on a book targeting them; but Millennials generally don’t care about credentials
- Emotional words (e.g., heart, kiss, sweet) appeal to women*, so if your target is women, find ways to use these words (e.g., “Kiss procrastination goodbye”)
- Right-brained readers are hooked by teasing and creative wording, while left-brained readers want a clear problem and solution
The webinar briefly touched on design in a way that was helpful.
- Design trends change with time; if you’re trying to fit in today, you’d want a minimalist design with less words
- The cover sets the tone of the story inside
- Remember your brand and stay true to it
- Different colors compel people more or less, or convey certain feelings or ideas
- The headline should be readable in a glance
- Use a sans serif font for the headlines, and serif font for the copy
The webinar ended with the reminder that books are for people, and your cover copy should make people feel something and show you care about them. There were a lot more details, tips, and examples in the webinar. I recommend watching it if you are interested in learning more about effective back cover copy.
*Lee used the terms “men” and “women” for gender, but the fact that gender is non-binary was addressed. I’m not sure how to properly categorize: maybe “people who are more emotional like emotional wording”? Also note that some viewers may not care for Lee’s humor; to his credit he seemed to realize that his jokes were problematic, mid-webinar.