book back covers

Book Back Covers: How to Write an Irresistible One

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

February 13, 2023

You know how important your book’s front cover is, but have you forgotten book back covers? Like the front cover, the book back covers present an opportunity to sell your book to a potential reader. Most readers who are attracted to a front cover immediately turn the book over to get more information. If the information is compelling enough, that reader will think, “Yes, I have to read this!”

Why Book Back Covers Matter

Both fiction and nonfiction books use the back covers to tantalize readers and convince them a book is worth reading. In the best-designed covers, the author offers something irresistible that will make the reader choose that book over all the others on the shelf.

How do you create book back covers like that? Follow this guide.

Elements of Book Back Covers

All book back covers have the same basic elements. You will need these elements whether your book is fiction or nonfiction. The main difference is that nonfiction books promise a solution or conclusion, and fiction books promise an entertaining read.

  • Headline: This is a single line that catches the reader’s attention and invites them to keep reading more about your book. It is usually in italic or bold print and set in a large font across the back. The headline can hint at the plot, summarize the book’s viewpoint, or even be a key line from the book. A historical romance might have a headline like, “Can love survive in a time of war?” A nonfiction, how-to book might promise, “Get your finances in order using a simple system that’s proven to work.”
  • Blurb: The blurb is the summary you find on most book back covers. The blurb must be short, coming in at around 200 words or fewer. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to win your reader over, so choose your words carefully. A well-crafted blurb will show the reader what they can expect from reading the book. To see some well-written blurbs, check out the examples we’ve included below.
  • Hook: This is the final sales close that makes your book irresistible to your ideal reader. It invites the reader in to learn more about the solution you’ve provided, the viewpoint you’re presenting, or the fictional world you’ve created.
  • Review clips: If your book has already been reviewed, include a line or two from the review, the reviewer’s name, and where it appeared.
  • Author bio: The author bio usually goes on the book back cover. It may have your photo. It should also describe your background and list your previously published works.
  • Barcode: Include the book’s barcode, ISBN, and price in the lower part of the back cover.

Book Back Covers: How to Write the Tagline

To write the tagline, focus on a single sentence that sums up the idea of your book. Readers should immediately understand what the book promises. It could be a line from the book, or it could be something that puts the book in a historical or literary context.

Here are examples of book back covers from published books.

  • “Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.” – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • “A horrific murder in the land of aloha sends Detective Koa Kane on a harrowing journey through ancient ritual, cultural conflict, and a web of dangerous secrets.” – Death of a Messenger by Robert McCaw
  • “A book (and a half) of poetry about math!” – aRHYTHMetic by Tiffany Stone, Kari-Lynn Winters, and Lori Sherritt-Fleming
  • “I can’t type, I can’t file, I can’t even answer the telephone.” – The Washington Fringe Benefit by Elizabeth Ray
  • “Nobody outfoxes fantastic Mr. Fox!” – Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  • “How would your life change if it included a little more life?” – Live More, Work Better: A Practical Guide to a Balanced Life by Gayle Hilgendorff

Book Back Covers: How to Write the Blurb

A well-written blurb helps the reader make the decision to read your book. It should entice the reader into feeling like they can’t walk away from what you’re offering. Here are some tips to help you write it.

  • The blurb is not a summary. Don’t create a dry description of the plot. You want to present enough information about the book’s theme, mood, or plot to intrigue your reader without getting bogged down in details. Readers want to know the setting, time period, main character, and tone of the book.
  • Let the reader know what genre they’re reading. Is the book a romance, an adventure, a hero’s quest, a biography, or a how-to book? Your blurb should convey its main theme immediately.
  • Don’t give everything away. Never give away the ending or resolution. Leave some mystery for the reader to uncover.
  • Introduce the main character right away. Most blurbs tell you the name of the main character right away. Let the reader decide whether this is someone they can care about.
  • Keep it short. If a reader is scanning several books at a time, they don’t want to get bogged down in a lengthy blurb. Most blurbs are 150 to 200 words, and they are usually written in two to four short paragraphs.

Study these and other examples of compelling blurbs on book back covers.

“Someone’s been stealing from the three meanest farmers around, and they know the identity of the thief—it’s Fantastic Mr. Fox! Working alone, they could never catch him, but now fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. What they don’t know is that they’re not dealing with just any fox—Mr. Fox would rather die than surrender.” – Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

“Throughout history, the British monarchy has relied on its courtiers—the trusted advisers in the Queen’s inner circle—to ensure its survival as a family and a pillar of the country. Today, as ever, a carefully selected team of people hidden from view steers the royal family’s path between public duty and private life. Queen Elizabeth II, after a remarkable 70 years of service, saw the final seasons of her reign without her husband Phillip to guide her. Now, a newly ascended Charles seeks to define what his future as King, and that of his court, will be.

Courtiers pulls back the veil to reveal an ever-changing system of complex characters, shifting alliances, and a battle of ideas over what the future of the institution should be. This is the inside story of how the monarchy really works, at a pivotal moment in its history.” – Courtiers by Valentine Low

“Afghanistan, 1975: 12-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, in an event that will shatter their lives.

“After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realizes that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.” – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Design Tips for Book Back Covers

You should devote some time to designing beautiful book back covers. Remember, the covers are what sell. Here are some tips to help you create a cover that’s the perfect backdrop for the taglines and blurbs you just created.

  • Keep it clean. A clean, uncluttered design is easy on the eyes. It also makes your back cover text stand out. Use the words on the cover to draw people in, and keep the background design simple.
  • Keep it consistent. Your back cover and front cover should share colors and graphic treatments. If you used a particular font for the title on your front cover, consider using it for the headline on your back cover.
  • Use the right font. Make sure all the fonts are large, readable, and easy to read. This is no time to make readers struggle to read what’s on your cover.

Get It Printed

At Publishing Xpress, we know that book back covers are just as important as front covers. When we print your book, we give it the care and attention it deserves. If you’d like a printing estimate, check out our online pricing calculators.

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