Cover Copy Tips

Cover Copy Tips

cartoon of book with blank cover

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.

Main Points

people looking at books on a table in a store

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

open book with pages folded into a heart, with a pink rose

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

Design

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
shelves of books at a store, outdoors

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.


Posts on this blog are copied from Emily’s blog at http://emilybuehler.com/news/. Subscribe by email to that blog for more practical tips for authors, editors, and self-publishers, as well as occasional thoughts from Emily and news on Emily’s writing and events.

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