Selling your story – Secrets of the back cover!

Back Cover copy is VITAL to capture the attention of your potential audience!

My lovely editors have asked me to start writing my back cover copy (well, actually, they asked if I had already written it ; ) so I’m starting to think about my own process as a reader, and what kind of back cover copy makes me take a book home.

Firstly, I think I need that top line that captures the eye. Do any of these do that for you guys (these are in no particular order) ?

  1. What would you do if you inherited 221 Baker Street?
  2. What if you were the granddaughter of Dr. John Watson?
  3. How did an orphan from Toronto come to own 221 Baker St?
  4. There’s a new consulting detective at 221 Baker St.
  5. There’s a new Watson at Baker Street

Secondly, I need some text that teases the story without giving away too much of the story, so I was thinking this scene when Portia first arrives at Baker Street. Let me know if you think it’s too much given away or too long:

At some point Brian said from over my shoulder, “I thought it best to bring these back out of storage. You should be the one to decide where they go.”

“I should?” I answered, my eyes still locked on the precious tomes, though I could feel how close Brian was, and my stomach fluttered at it.

“Why, yes,” he said. “They passed to you the same as this house. And not a few of them were in fact written by your grandfather himself.”

I finally tore my gaze from the spines of the books. “My grandfather? These are his books?”

Nodding, he selected a brown journal from the bookshelf and handed it to me. “See?”

I read the cover page — “The Adventures of Mr. Sherlock Holmes – June-August 1852” — and my eyes travelled down to the author’s signature: “As faithfully recorded by Dr. John H. Watson.”

“Dr. John Watson,” I murmured, connecting the dots with a certainty that at once elated and shocked me.

“Your grandfather,” corrected Brian with another friendly smile.

BTW; here are some links I found in my research that might be of interest:

Author: Angela Misri

Novelist, Digital Strategist & Journalist

11 thoughts on “Selling your story – Secrets of the back cover!”

  1. I like the blurb which emphasizes the fact that Portia’s an orphan. Gets people interested in finding out more. I wouldn’t use a quote from the text though. Instead I’d work from the first sentence and then see what I could whip up that would get the reader interested in reading more.

  2. I have to be honest, I don’t read back covers when choosing a book. I read the first pay then one in some random location in the book to get a taste of the writer’s style and voice. Back covers just never feel like they are written by the same author.

    1. Really? Well, i am way more confident in the quality of a random page in my book than on the book cover copy (so far, as it is not complete yet!) so that works in my favour. Thanks for stopping by Nina!

      1. I picked up this horror book from the 80s, read the back. It was a book written in the perspective of an evil entity that drains souls. I though of that sounds neat then I turned to a random page and it was …… er ………… not so neat. That’s the cleanest way to put it.

  3. Rami’s advice make sense so I won’t disagree. There are a lot of questions packed into that one short sentence. When choosing a book I have a set progression: front cover, back cover, front matter (are there maps, chapter titles, or any other interesting tidbits?), the first page, and then random pages. The process can stall at any one of those steps.

  4. There are going to be illustrations which is awesome and unexpected, so there is that. And my editors are focused on finding an amazing Front Cover illustrator… so I am focused on the back cover, as it seems I should be. Thanks Christina!

  5. I wasn’t particularly drawn to any of the question-type hooks. I like the concept of a short blurb. Some of my favorite book-backs have a one-line quote or phrase, centered, clean, and impossible to miss.

    For a mystery-type book I would say something like: A candle, a bucket of toothpaste, and three men dead—Anyone know a good detective?

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