You’ve done the hard part. You’ve taken the time and effort to write your book. You’ve maybe had some beta readers. You’ve made your own edits. You’ve gone through your work with an editor, gone through proofreading and final edits. You’ve formatted your book... You’ve arrived! You’re here, so close to publishing your book! What else needs to be done? Well, now that you’ve got the inside of the book ready, it’s time to think about the outside! Let’s talk about what should go into the back cover of your self-published book.
What Should You Have on the Back Cover of Your Self-Published Book?
This is the most important thing to have on the back cover of your book. A summary of the story will be what gets people to buy your book. Think about it, when you are in a bookstore looking at books, what do you do to determine if you actually want the book? The front cover is what draws your attention, but you flip it to the back cover to find out more about the book and if you think you’ll actually enjoy it. Having a summary is the best way to have potential readers see that they want to read your book.
So what makes a good summary? You’re not really trying to summarize the whole book—you don’t want to give away the ending and ruin the book! But you do want to set up a couple things in the blurb on the back cover:
The Genre The overall cover design should indicate the genre, but the tone of the blurb should also be consistent with the genre. If there’s a mismatch of tone, it will throw the reader off or cause confusion, and not many people will want to buy a book they are confused by before they even start reading it!
The Setting Give an idea of the setting. Is this a real setting, like New York City or London? Is it in a fantasy world with monarchs and dragons? Is it on a different planet with futuristic tech? When is it set? What is significant about the setting? How is this setting different or the same from settings or experiences readers are already familiar with? All of this basic setting information will give the reader an idea of what is in store for them when they read the book.
The Main Character(s) Who are the people we’ll be spending the most time with in the book? How do they relate to the other characters? If your book is nonfiction like a memoir, set up what you (or the main character) are like at the start of the journey.
Where the Plot Starts Remember, you don’t want to give spoilers, but you want to give an idea of what the main obstacle your characters are facing, and hint toward where the story will go.
Writing Style The setting, main characters, and plot are things you want to communicate in your back cover blurb, but how should that information be communicated? In a style that is cohesive with the style and tone of the writing in the book. The blurb should feel like a brief introduction to the book, because that’s honestly what it is.
Brief Author Bio & Headshot (optional)
A short, 2-3 sentence bio with a headshot can really help potential readers feel a more personal connection with your book, especially if it’s a memoir. In other nonfiction genres, it can also be a way to establish credibility. However, keep in mind that you can also put author info in the back pages of your book as well, so if it would distract from the design or plot of your book (especially if it’s fiction), maybe just use the back pages. But it’s always worth considering!
If you had some beta readers or someone who’s read the book before it’s been published say something special about the book, especially if that someone is recognized in your field or someone potential readers would know about and trust, then adding 1-3 reviews or quick quips could be helpful.
Creating the Back Cover for Your Book
We hope we’ve given you some direction on what your self-published book needs for its back cover! When in doubt, also take some time to look around your local bookstore. Find the genre that your book is in and take a look at what other authors have done. Take note of what you like and don’t like. Why do you react certain ways to certain design choices or blurbs? What can be incorporated into your own book with your own style? To help you out, here are some examples from our own shelves:
As always, Next Page is here for your self-publishing needs, feel free to reach out if you need help with your back cover blurb and design!
About Next Page
Next Page Editing & Design produces high-quality books that reflect authors' brands, purpose, and impact. We do this through editing, book design, launch support, author branding, and coaching. Once we finish our job, you keep your rights to print, sell, and promote your work while retaining 100% of your book's profits. We call this a "no-strings attached" model.
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