You’ve written a book, so how hard can it be to write a couple more paragraphs for the back cover? It may seem easy in theory, but, writing a condensed yet enticing summary can be quite the feat. As an author, you know the contents of your book inside and out, but what does your audience need to know to convince them to read the book?
Here are some tips to write an effective and engaging back cover blurb:
Think of your back cover blurb as a roadmap for readers.
It’s your job to highlight the key things they will get from the book.
- Start with a hook, something interesting to grab the reader’s attention right from the start. A poignant quote, pressing question, or pithy summary may be a great place to start. This is essentially the “pick-up line” of your book, so grab your audience’s attention with something powerful.
- Your blurb should include context or background information to set the stage. For non-fiction, this could establish the premise of the book, and for fiction, this might be the setting of the book.
- Next, you’ll need to introduce the main character(s) of the book along with some detail about their role in the plot development. Use adjectives that would help to characterize while keeping the description succinct.
- Now that you’ve established a premise, you’ll want to tease the reader with the main conflict or problem in the book. For non-fiction, this could identify controversy, challenges or struggle in the book, and for fiction, this could hint at the climax of the story – although avoid spoilers.
- It can be quite effective to end the roadmap with a twist or cliff-hanger to intrigue your audience. The twist could be phrased as a question or a dramatic statement, which tells your audience that reading the book will answer it.
You’re looking to strike a balance between giving your audience too much detail, and being so vague the reader has no idea what to expect from the book.
Consider who your target audience is when writing your back cover copy.
- Is the book perfect for young adults, fantasy enthusiasts or those who enjoy escape reads? Or maybe the book would appeal to fans of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.
- Establishing the mood will help readers decide whether this is the right book for them by telling them why they would be interested in the book.
- Use vocabulary appropriate for your target audience. As you did when editing the contents of the book, take note of word choice used and make sure your main audience would understand the language you use.
- Avoid clichés at all costs! Remember, you’re trying to make your book stand out from the rest and overused phrases are not going to help.
Be clear, concise and convincing when describing your book.
Since the back cover blurb should be around 100 – 250 words in length, it will also help to use short, gripping sentences that maintain the voice and tone of the book itself.
Most importantly, REVISE, REVISE, REVISE!
Other than the cover, the back cover blurb is the first thing the reader will see when they look at your book. So, make every word count.
Here are some examples of great back cover blurbs from Tellwell authors:
Nicola Peffers – The Black Deck (Non-Fiction)
When Ordinary Seaman Nicola Peffers boards the Winnipeg for her first deployment with the Canadian Navy, she embarks on a psychologically deadly voyage rife with life-altering challenges. At a break-neck pace Peffers undergoes intense training, fierce hierarchies, endless fatigue, and mistreatment by her superiors. In The Black Deck, Peffers offers a revelatory and visceral glimpse into a harsh world at sea.
We are days away from the nearest port. There are kilometres of water under us. We are completely alone out here. We are not a shark, and we don’t go hunting. Instead we are a spider stuck in its web, cursed with waiting.
What am I doing here? No one comes here unless they have to. I’m as deep inside her now as I can go, and furthest away from the endless stares of the men and the bitter glances of the women. It’s a confused kind of relationship. I love my ship in a way I’ve never loved an inanimate object before, but every time I do rounds I’m terrified that she’ll blow up. I feel the fear as I sit here in the hot darkness. Maybe it’s just my own brokenness that I’m projecting. Maybe the cracks have already formed. Maybe it’s me that’s about to explode
D Kane – Fifth Dragon – Cumulous Capers (Fiction)
Magic can be fun unless, of course, you haven’t got a clue how to use it. When a levitation spell goes calamitously wrong, Raven meets a young man who makes her heart go pitter-patter. Turns out her Prince Charming is actually a prince – and quite charming.
They find Cumulos Castle which floats in a cloud high above the earth. There they encounter a Scots mage, a Transylvanian witch, and . . . a purple creature with the disposition of a honey badger. There’s a ten-inch pixie with a crush on the prince and an ebullient dragon. Giant, magic-sucking spyders, dark ghosts, and trolls infest her new world and sometimes Raven yearns for the peace and quiet of Denver – almost. Enter Valgren, a gorgeous and mysterious Rider of Gaia who takes an interest in Raven – and not just in her magical skills.
This series is for those of us who still enjoy a fun fantasy romp through the delightful world of magic reminiscent of childhood – but all grown up.
Samantha Wood – Lumps on a Log (Children’s Book)
This is a story about some very special creatures that live in the bog. Although they may look small, they have very large imaginations. Join up with the Lumps on a log and get carried away on their crazy adventures.