Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing Back Cover Copy

Back when I was first working on a query for my YA Urban Fantasy, Crow's Rest, I wrote the query "blurb" section with back cover copy in mind. I thought, "Why not make it do double duty, and have it ready to go when I need it?"

But although that query blurb got my book lots of interest and requests, I came to realize it wouldn't work very well for a back cover blurb. For one thing, it was too spoilery for cover copy, and that meant it didn't have that hook a reader is looking for. The hook that makes them actually crack open the book (or download the sample) and keep reading.

In the end, the text for the back of a book is much simpler than a query. As I said in a post about queries on my blog, "a query serves as your introduction to an agent or editor, gets them excited about your premise and how you've enacted it". In an ideal query, you also want to show some voice, and possibly reveal one or more plot twists.

But none of that belongs in your back copy--except the excitement about the premise, which is where your hook comes in. Copywriter Carly Hoogendyk, in a post on the Book Country blog, says this about a hook:

"There’s something about your novel that makes it original and specific and intriguing to readers. That’s your hook. Working your hook into a tagline that opens your copy is a tried and true way to get a reader to continue on to the rest of your synopsis and, ideally, the first page of your book."

I'm still playing around with my hook for Crow's Rest, but I've moved on to tackling the actual blurb and have discovered that the version I like the best is pretty bare-bones. It's only 5 paragraphs, and each paragraph is only 1 or 2 sentences. A few years ago, I probably would have been aghast at using something that short to convey my entire book, but since then I've learned that you're not trying to do that.

The blurb is a sales tool meant to intrigue the potential buyer into opening the book, and that's all! I found some helpful resources on writing back cover copy and wanted to share them here:

7 Secrets to Writing Persuasive Back Cover Sales Copy

How to Write a Blurb (Back Cover Copy)

What to Avoid When Writing Back Cover Copy

Tips for Writing Back Cover Copy

How to Write Kick-Butt BCC

And the best way to get a sense of successful back cover copy is to read a bunch of them! Go to the library, a bookstore, an online seller, or your own bookcases, and read a wide sample. Which ones make you want to crack open that book, even if you've read it before?


  1. OY! Back cover copy? I'm not there yet, but will remember your post when I do.

  2. Authors rejoice -- you can throw "show don't tell" out the window when writing your back cover copy!

  3. This is excellent timing--especially before conferences, when you're expected to "elevator pitch" your novel in a few short sentences. Thanks for the links!

  4. Great Post! I've been tweaking my back cover blurb for a while now... It's um...not there yet :-)