Imagine a potential reader selecting your book. Maybe the reader recognizes the title because you’ve employed some good book marketing. Or maybe your book cover design is attractive. What’s likely next is the quick twist of the wrist that allows your reader to check out the back cover of your book. The reader will briefly review what they find there and decide whether or not your book makes the cut to be next in line on their reading list.
This is a make-or-break moment for your book, which is why it’s so important that your book design includes a stellar back cover. We’ll review the most important elements for a back cover and how to write these elements in ways that connect to your audience and your work.
Your book description serves as a window into your book. When writing your book description, you’re providing your reader an opportunity to see themselves reading your book. You’ll want to create a description that’s engaging, and that also looks nice when incorporated into the whole book layout.
Define your audience
Keep in mind that your book is not for everyone. A reader looking for a light summer fiction is not likely to identify with a book in the business genre, and that’s OK! You’ll write your book description for a specific audience, just as you wrote your book with a particular reader in mind.
If your description is aimed at too broad an audience, you risk that your future readers will not connect with your book. Though it might seem counterintuitive, writing your description for a select reader will allow you to reach more people with your work. Start by considering your genre and demographics and build your description from there.
Engage your reader
Your description should be more than a summary or overview of your book. With fiction and nonfiction, you’ll want to write a hook at the beginning of your description to draw your reader in. Bring the reader into the plot line of your fiction book or give them guidance for a problem if writing nonfiction.
You’re trying to match readers with your book when writing your description, so keep it accessible. Write your description in the third person regardless of what perspective you’ve used throughout your book. Don’t try to show off your creative writing skills by using overly flowery language. You want to be able to showcase your plot here in a quick and alluring manner.
Your book description might be the most important element included on your back cover, but it’s not the only element. To ensure a clean and attractive design, limit your book description to under 200 words. A word limit close to this will also hold you accountable in your mission to keep your book description succinct.
Including blurbs or testimonials on your back cover is a way to build credibility for your book and you as an author. Without sounding over enthusiastic, blurbs can convey why a reader should read your book.
Who can write a blurb?
If self-publishing, there are many ways to find the contact info of other writers in your genre or experts in your field. Craft a short letter that details how meaningful it would be to have your book reviewed by the addressee.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have your work reviewed by a media source, that media source can be quoted to serve as a blurb as well. You’ll want to choose a positive statement or two from the review. Even if the media source didn’t give you an outstanding review, there are bound to be some positive words in the review somewhere. Even being able to reference a media source will add credibility to your writing.
If you’ve built a launch team in addition to your book editing and book publishing teams, you may already have compiled a list of reader testimonials. These can be used as blurbs as well and can be particularly effective if you’re able to include a job title or position with your reader’s name that brings some credible weight with it.
How many blurbs?
Blurbs are not a complete necessity, but they can help you reach a wider audience. Blurbs can sometimes be included on the front cover, if coming from a source of high notoriety, on an inside cover fold, or on the back cover. Since we’re talking about your back cover layout, it’s important to consider once again the variety of elements you are including. To allow ample room for your book description and author bio, it would be best to limit the number of blurbs to three maximum.
Your bio should include the basics, like where you live and a short mention of your family life. Readers like to feel connected with their favorite authors, and the basics show you as someone to whom they can relate. But what else should an author bio include beyond that? Let us show you how to write an author bio in ways that connect to your audience and your work and establish you in the industry for years to come.
The importance of a writer’s bio
Striking a balance between providing the context of your life in which your book came to be without it is essential to understand the material reflects the importance of a book writer’s bio. In other words, your biography shouldn’t appear so large that it diminishes your work, but at the same time, the result is also informed by your bio.
The book you’ve just written was probably informed by the life you’ve led, making them interconnected. An author’s biography is critical because, after all, everything the author writes is filtered through their life experiences. However, some say an author’s bio should never factor into understanding and interpreting their work. So, how to achieve that balance?
What to include on the back cover of a book
It’s more important for your author bio to be interesting than accurate. The author’s hobbies aren’t mentioned explicitly, but you get a livelier and more exciting picture of their active language. And when their genre is action-packed crime fiction, including their love of museums, birding and baseball seem too slow-paced. Leaving out some hobbies and interests can also give you content for revising your author bio for the next book or for using in other online marketing efforts (like on social media!).
Your bio needs to be (mostly) relevant to your book’s genre or subject matter. Rather than saying which prestigious places of employment are in your past, why not say how a particular aspect of them inspired your writing? On the flip side, if you’re a fantasy author with a Ph.D. in mythology or folklore or a history professor who writes alternative historical fiction, that’s relevant and should be highlighted—just not too much. Only enough to lend credibility.
Author bio template
Again, write in the third person. Keep to about 250 words. You can use this bio to give to people introducing you in public speaking and signing events, so make sure it’s lively and will sound good read aloud. You’re aiming for a style similar to a book jacket copy. The purpose is to make yourself sound professional as well as attractive. A bio is all about making yourself stand out. Follow this template:
- Whatever Might Make You Newsworthy
- Work History
- Where You Live
- Life Experience and Hobbies
- Travel/Exotic Residences
- Writing Credentials/Prizes
- Family: Use Discretion Here
- Performing History
- Your Online Presence
There is debate about how necessary it is to include an author photo on the back cover of your book. But one thing is for sure that, like all the other elements of your back cover, your author photo is an opportunity to attract and connect with your readers. If you decide to include an author photo, ensure that it follows these guidelines:
Your photo should be taken by a professional
It would be best to include a professional headshot as your author photo. Don’t take the photo yourself unless you are confident you can make it look professional. Including a professional photo gives your back cover a polished and organized appearance that will only add to your credibility as a writer.
Your photo should be of the current you (and only you)
Don’t use a headshot from 20 years ago. It will be evident if you’re using an old photograph and you want to show up as your authentic self in order to establish a connection and a relationship with your readers. Also, you may have beautiful family photos or a picture of you and your dog that you love, but leave everyone but yourself out of your author photo.
Your photo should complement your message
No, your photo doesn’t have to look scary if you’ve written a gory thriller. But it’s worth considering your audience, message, and genre when taking and selecting your author photo. Personal development authors will want a photo that seems optimistic and energetic. An author of financial advocacy books may want to be wearing a suit or professional attire in their author photo. Would it feel best to include your photo in color or black and white?
There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to what to include on the back cover of soft- and hardcover books. The back cover is an opportunity for you to engage and connect with your readers and to extend your message to a deeper audience. In addition to services like hardcover book printing and book editing, a book editor from Palmetto Publishing can help you with your book cover design and layout. Palmetto is a top-tier publishing company that can help you bring all of your hard work to light with an abundance of publishing services.