There are very few frustrations that compare to picking up a book with an attractive front cover only to flip to the back and find no book description. Do you take the chance and trust that it’ll fulfill what the title promises, or do you return the book to the shelf? On rare occasions I whip out my phone and do a quick Google search. But as an author, you can’t count on your potential readers taking the initiative to find the description themselves.
Your back cover is arguably more important than the front. The front cover catches the eye, but it’s the back cover that makes the sales pitch. This is primarily done through the book description, though some authors include testimonials too. In a limited space, you need to explain what the book is about, who your audience is, what your audience will get from it, and why you’re the right person for the job. That’s a lot to cover in only 100-200 words, but it can be done and you can certainly do it.
There’s an overwhelming number of nonfiction books that cover every subject imaginable, so ask yourself what the reader will gain from spending the time and money on yours. It’s not enough to just allude to an answer here. You have to present it outright, and maybe, just maybe, that’ll be enough to get your book into the shopping cart, virtually or otherwise.
When writing your back cover description, try to consider your book from the perspective of a potential reader. What’s going to get their attention? What do you have that they want? This isn’t an opportunity to inflate your ego or to over-promise the book’s worth.
There’s no definitive formula for writing a compelling back cover, but if you take a look at other books, you’ll start to see what kinds of descriptions suit your needs and what styles you want to avoid. It’s a good idea to take your book description for a test run, both with people who have read your manuscript and those who’re unfamiliar with it. This combo will ensure that you deliver on your promise in the content and are compelling enough to get people to crack open the cover to read your work.
Avoid clichés and other overused expressions. These don’t convey very much information and are essentially a waste of your precious space. The trick here is to give a teaser on what your book promises without giving away all of the details for free. It’s a fine line to dance, but with practice you’ll stay right on point.