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Monday, May 20, 2013


Since 2007, Shelley Ring has written back cover and marketing copy for traditional publishers, as well as for independently published authors. A former Marketing Coordinator for a Christian publisher, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Colorado Christian University, where she worked in Public Relations and wrote for the college newspaper. Her writing vices, never far during creative chaos, include chocolate, iced tea, and baked kale chips. With a passion for outstanding romantic Christian fiction, she is the author of Ransomed, a romantic suspense novel that portrays one woman’s physical and spiritual escape from human trafficking. Shelley’s novels are available on Amazon in digital and paperback. She lives in Colorado with her family, including a sweet-tempered Rottweiler named Mya.

The following article is an excerpt from Shelley’s upcoming book, How to Write Back Cover Copy that Sells: Every Writer's Guide to Creating Successful Marketing Copy.

Blink, blink, blink.

I close my eyes, praying something brilliant will magically appear on the computer screen when I look again. God answers desperate prayers, right?

Well, not this time.

My eyes open to the blinding white screen staring back at me. A flashing black cursor mocks my mental block. For several minutes, my brain draws a frustrating blank. I wrote an entire book, but writing back cover copy seems an insurmountable task.

Insurmountable until I remember the purpose, structure, and language of back cover copy. As a novelist, copywriter, and former publishing Marketing Coordinator, I’ve learned to switch hats from fiction to marketing.

My direction reset, I take a deep breath, and my fingers fly over the keyboard.

The Purpose of the Back Cover

Your back cover exists for two reasons:
1.       Introduce your story.
2.       Compel the reader to open the book.

Once he or she delves between the covers, allow your characters and voice to complete the sale.

The Structure of Fiction Back Cover Copy

Many fiction writers create a basic foundation of goal, motivation, and conflict for their novels. The same structure applies to writing copy for your fiction back cover.

First, introduce your hero/heroine. Provide a snapshot of the character so we immediately identify with him or her.

Next, bring out your character’s motivation and overall conflict in one sentence.

Finally, highlight the character’s black moment. Don’t give the ending away, but show how much the hero or heroine stands to lose. Intrigue the reader.

The Outline for Non-fiction Back Cover Copy

Non-fiction books have a different framework, though they still employ goals, motivations, and conflicts. This style of back cover copy begins by targeting a person’s felt needs. Ask yourself:

  • What promise do I make the reader?
  • What does he or she want to discover, accomplish, or become?
  • Why does my audience desire this, and how does my book fulfill that desire?
  • What roadblocks prevent the reader from his or her desire, and how does my book help them overcome those obstacles?
The following examples give you an idea of the big thought or promise in a non-fiction book:
  • A proven strategy for conquering financial distress
  • Write e-books that actually sell
  • An outrageous true account of greed, corruption, and deceit

Follow the big idea with a short list of other reader-oriented benefits:

  • Get out of debt and gain a stress-free life.
  • Discover 10 secrets of highly effective e-book authors.
  • One of the most gripping and bizarre real-life stories ever told.

The Language of Back Cover Copy

As the author, you know your audience better than anyone. Build a composite reader and address that person.

Sales or information-based non-fiction uses you, your, we, and our to speak to the reader. Fiction and creative non-fiction apply more abstract ways. Maximize the danger, the struggle, or the life-and-death situation with words like true account, incredible, terrifying, life-changing, outrageous, or spellbinding.

More tips

In writing the back cover of your book, a few helpful reminders create the richest set-up:

  • Include 1-2 keywords about your book’s subject or theme. Keywords help readers draw a correlation between your back cover copy and blog posts, articles, headlines, or ads.
  • Watch your length. Keep the word count in the range of 75-200 words, depending on the size of your printed product. A length of 125 words seems to fit the backs of most printed books, while still allowing space for your bio.
  • Reflect the story tone or the voice of the non-fiction piece.
  • Be tight. Be specific. Be yourself. Your writer voice might be the only truly unique part of your book, so let your style, expertise, or personality shine through and make a connection with your reader.
  • Don’t introduce secondary themes or subplots in fiction.
  • Don’t reveal the ending in fiction, and don’t give up every secret in non-fiction.
  • Use testimonials, awards, and previous books to build credibility and earn trust. Testimonials are most valuable as headlines, while awards and other titles fit well at the end of your copywriting.

Following these simple tips empowers every author to write compelling copy for any book category. No more blinding white screen and mocking cursors. I can write back cover copy.

So can you.

After a heated argument with her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Siersha vanishes into the afternoon sun. Eight years later, her family still finds no trace of her. Until former Marine and modern-day prophet Micah Stone receives a disturbing vision.

Years ago, Micah knew his future. He would marry Rebecca and live in service to God forever. Her disappearance devastated him. Now haunted by the image of her running through the night, darkness chasing her, Micah hears an edict from the Lord: Save her.

Micah determines to uncover the truth behind Rebecca’s disappearance, but just when victory seems near, they meet evil face to face. This time it will take everything within Micah to obey God.

But exactly who will do the saving?

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