Authors often ask me what they should include on their book’s back cover. Today I’ll share with you the possible content you could include on your back cover as well as tips on length and how to choose which content to include.
The most important thing to remember? Much like I mentioned in my article on font choices, the primary purpose of your back cover is to sell your book to the right reader. The back cover is your second opportunity to make the sale (after a potential reader is hooked by your awesome front cover).
To that end, back cover content should be concise, intriguing, readable, and representative of the book’s content.
What’s the most important part of a book’s back cover?
Recommended length: maximum of 200 words
The blurb is a must, and it’s crucial to selling your book. If your blurb stinks, your sales will suffer. A blurb should have a hook and introduce main characters, problem, and obstacle(s). It should leave the reader wondering and wanting more. It’s important to emphasize the right things and accurately represent the story in your blurb so as to not mislead your readers. There are many resources out there on blurb-writing (including this new release from The Queen of Blurbs, Julie C. Gilbert: 5 Steps to Better Blurbs [aff. link]). Be sure to get feedback from other writers and readers on your blurb and always, always have it edited. There are few things more embarrassing than terrible grammar and typos on the back of your beautiful new book!
What are your other options for back cover content?
Recommended length: a couple lines
One great way to hook readers is by leading with a very short excerpt. Try one or two lines of intriguing dialogue, action, or any other part that leaves them with both a taste of the style and the need to keep reading. Just be sure the excerpt makes sense even without the context of the rest of the book and doesn’t contain any spoilers!
The Author Bio
Recommended length: maximum of 100 words
Readers often like to know more about the author, especially if your past as a secret agent will lend realism to your thriller, or your love of baking makes you relatable to readers of your cozy mystery, or your credentials as a successful nutritionist gives your non-fiction book credibility. Remember a bio can be included on the last pages of the book as well, so if you want to keep it shorter on the back and longer inside, that often works well.
The Author Picture
An author picture can be a nice addition for some of the same reasons as the author bio. It helps make you real and relatable, and sets the tone for your brand as an author. Which is why it’s important not to use that poorly-lit selfie. Even if you can’t hire a professional photographer, do try to look your nicest and get someone else to take the picture in good lighting with the best camera you can get your hands on. If you write humor, feel free to bring the false nose!
The Review / Endorsement
Recommended length: 1-2 sentences, with exceptions
Did you land a review or endorsement from a big name in your genre? Did a well-known nutritionist say good things about your non-fiction? You can definitely include a short review or endorsement on your back cover, provided you have the individual’s permission. Reviews are often longer than you’ll have space for, so it’s perfectly acceptable to pull just the most impactful parts for use as long as it doesn’t change the intent or meaning of their words. Be sure to indicate trimming properly using … and [brackets]. As with the author bio, you can include more (and longer) endorsements inside the book.
The Publishing Logo
Do you have a fabulous logo for your publishing company? Some people choose to register as their own publishing company and have their own logo. This can be a great thing to include on your back cover, especially if you’re trying to build a brand. It also comes in handy filling the space to the left of…
The ISBN Barcode
This is another must-have. While you could produce a book without an ISBN barcode, it would be extremely limiting and impractical, making it near-impossible to sell. If you publish via CreateSpace using one of their free ISBNs, they will add the barcode automatically; you just have to leave space on the back cover design. (This is easy to do when you use their cover design templates.) If you buy your own ISBN or publish with IngramSpark, for example, you’ll need to add the barcode to the back cover. There are tools to help you turn your ISBN into the correct barcode.
Those are all things that can be included on your back cover. Do you need them all? No. You probably won’t be able to fit them all and have the text at a readable size, plus it will look cluttered.
A cluttered back cover with tiny text will not get read. It just won’t.
How should you decide what to include on the back cover?
You’ll definitely want the blurb and the barcode. Many authors go with just that and it works great! If you have a short excerpt that will make a particularly good hook, use it! If your bio is a selling point, I recommend you include it (or at least a short version) on the back cover. If your book is non-fiction, I recommend a credentials bio and one or two meaningful endorsements if you have them.
Above all, include only the content that hooks the right readers for your book, and keep it concise enough to fit in a visually appealing way.
Perry is a 20-something author with a lot on her plate. She’s wife to Tyler; mom to four little boys, two dogs, one cat, and 12 chickens; and author of five little books. She’s the admin of this site, as well as a freelance book designer and the creator of the WriteMind Planner for authors. She lives in the sunny southwest.
Offers: cover design and the WriteMind Planner at perryelisabethdesign.com