Well, it’s not exactly book “design” so to speak – but it is all part of your cover and the initial impression your reader will have about your book. It’s also the world’s smallest space for turning a potential reader to into a sold purchaser. You need to grab your target customer’s attention and MAKE HIM OR HER BUY… all in two paragraphs or less… and you thought writing your book was tough – creating less than 300 words of copy from a 100,000-word manuscript is difficult to say the least- there is so much you want to say!
Below are some thoughts on writing your promotional copy – both for your book cover and your other marketing vehicles. We’ve also provided space on our web site, in the Projects area (where you can register your books) where you can upload your author bio and cover copy.
On virtually every traditionally published book, the exciting and graceful words working their magic on the back covers weren’t written by the author, but by a professional copywriter. Like any creative endeavor, Copywriting is a craft all unto itself. This isn’t to say, however, that you can’t be extremely successful writing your own back cover copy – it just presents it’s own unique challenges.
The words on the cover of your book are intended to offer a brief description of the book that will hook your readers into your story and motivate them to open the pages and buy your books. It is also a good area to highlight any reviews a book may have received, as well as promote you – the author.
We offer copywriting services to those authors who have no desire (or time) to compete with the stables of copywriters churning out pages and pages of copy for the big publishing houses – however, many authors can quite competently do this on their own – and for those authors we want to offer some tips and tricks for writing exciting and effective promotional copy.
First – Read the cover copy on other books in your genre.
Go to the bookstore or a library, pick up books in your genre, and read the cover copy. Take some friends so that you can ask them why they liked certain books. Compare the writing side by side on several books, watching how they build the case for each book – what information they reveal. You’ll see some books that really grab your attention (and ENGAGE you!) – write down the titles, what you think makes their cover copy successful, and how well the writing on the cover is representative of the impression about the book you get from looking at the cover. Now – think of ways to apply it to your own book. Pay attention to how few words really get to show up on the cover.
Second – Have a friend write a description of your book.
Tell your friend about your book – then have them read it. Get them to write a quick description of your book – highlighting elements within your book that they found most enjoyable. This may give you a new set of ideas about what is or is not important in your self published book.
Third – “KISS” – or Keep It Simple Stupid – it’s about the quality, not quantity.
The best promotional and cover copy doesn’t cover every character, scene, plot twist, or feature of your book. Remember this – the goal of your promotional copy is to ENGAGE your reader, CREATE a desire to buy your book, and DELIVER a brief summary of your book. It’s about being descriptive without being all-inclusive and cumbersome, engaging but not exaggerated. Your cover text should complement your book – but never, ever over or understate what your book will do for the reader.
Fourth – Borrow from your own work.
Sometimes it can be very effective (not to mention efficient) to just use passages from within your book. If you’re having trouble cutting your epic novel down into a few brief paragraphs, then skim your manuscript looking for paragraphs to excerpt. Remember that this is most effectively used if you have strong content that can be taken out of context and still make sense. Place the passage in quotes and underneath the quote identify the passage as having come from your book.
Fifth – Got Reviews?
Someday you’ll have lot’s of great reviews – if you happen to have any of them at this point in your career, then by all means, put at least one of those reviews on your cover! Pull the most complimentary sentence or two from the review(s) and put them in quotes on the back cover (or front cover if you have room).
Sixth – Brag a little!
Readers are curious folks – and they want to hear about you as an author. For fiction or other more fanciful works, tell the reader a little about your background (especially parts that may be relevant to your story) and if you have published any other works. On the covers of nonfiction books – you need to establish yourself as an expert in your topic – list your success, affiliations, or even degrees if it’s important.
It will take some time to get your copy written – especially if this is your first time. A couple more suggestions – look at your work as impartially as possible, try to identify features that set your book apart, try to visualize how the copy will look on the jacket and back cover of your book, and last – keep it short.
Your promotional copy is meant to give readers an emotional connection to you and your book – as well as motivate them to BUY it -don’t neglect this often overlooked (and so very important) communication tool for your book.