Back Cover Copy and Book Publicity: The Neglected Detail

Nothing detracts more from a book’s appeal than a bad back cover.

Whether your reader is a potential buyer, media professional or someone who wants to hire you for your expertise, your book’s back cover has to communicate to your target audience: buy me!

Authors often spend months or even years writing their book, yet give little time to what is on the back cover. Summarizing your book into 200 to 300 words can be a daunting task. Here are some tips for improving this vital area of your book.

  • 30 Second Elevator Pitch: If you only have 30 seconds to tell potential readers about you and your book, what would it include? Your goal is to give readers enough information to intrigue them into buying it. What may help is to ask a someone who has read your book to give you his or her 30 second pitch about your book.
  • Novel: Detailing every character and plot twist is not necessary. Read the back cover copy by your favorite authors in your genre to see examples of how to entice readers without giving away the entire plot. Your goal is to make an emotional connection with the reader so they will want to be transported into your world.
  • Non-fiction: Tell the readers what they will learn, what problems your book will solve, and why your book is different. The goal of a non-fiction book may be to inform, inspire, educate or entertain. Make sure the reader understands what is inside your book—and why you are qualified to write it. Bullet points work well with non-fiction books.
  • Author Bio: Less is more. Only include relevant information. For non-fiction, make your credentials clear by listing education, work experience, professional memberships, past books and awards. For fiction writers, consider including where or how you grew up, professional experience, writing awards or training, acclaims, past books or information explaining how you came to write your book.
  • Website: Include your website so people (especially the media!) can find out more about you and contact you!
  • Author Photo: If you chose include one, use a professional, uncluttered, current headshot. Keep your audience in mind. We worked with a book geared for children/families in which the author’s pose literally looked like an evil character from a B horror movie.
  • Reviews: Only use reviews from known sources or credentialed people. Professional colleagues in your field are especially helpful for non-fiction books. It can actually hurt you if you include, “Thrilling page turner!” ‘by Amazon reviewer.’ It’s better to leave this out.
  • Proofread: Last but not least, although it seems obvious, proofread your text. In the rush to complete what is often the final stage of a book, back cover copy can be neglected. We’ve seen outstanding books marred by typos—and yes, the media notices. Back cover copy needs to be proofread by professional eyes.

If you are working with a publicist early enough in the process, run the copy by him or her for feedback on content. Back cover copy is crucial for transforming the browser into a buyer. Don’t skimp on this essential piece to your project.

Sandy Diaz is the President of Smith Publicity, Inc. Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity is one of the world’s leading promotional firms, specializing in book publicity. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, the company has worked with over 900 individuals and companies–from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and businesses representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international with offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, and London. For more information about Smith Publicity, Inc., please visit