How to Write a Back Cover Blurb & Online Book Description

Wondering how to write a back cover blurb for your book? Especially if you’re venturing into self-publishing, this can be a sticky and even controversial topic. You are not alone as a self-published writer wondering what makes the best back cover copy for your book. Self-published authors grapple with this every day, working to create an enticing summary that compels readers to open their book and dive in. Today let’s discuss some of the key elements that make your back cover blurb the best it can be, regardless what genre you’re publishing.

Back Cover is Both Sales Pitch and Art

Essentially, the back cover of your book is a teaser that provides readers with a summary of the main plot points that set the story in motion, while giving your reader a sense of the theme at the heart of the story, and without giving away too much that the reader feels disappointed if there is no more to the book than what is included on the back cover. No big deal, right?

Your back cover is also a sales tool, as it often pitches the story to a potential reader before they have any other exposure to it. It should intrigue potential readers, making them eager to discover what lies within. A well-crafted blurb may also feature a brief endorsement from a fellow author, ideally someone well-known in your genre who can vouch for your writing prowess and the merits of your work. But a lot of readers become disengaged if the back cover is nothing but endorsements and blurbs, so make sure that if you include an endorsement, it’s a real doozy.

How to Write a Back Cover Blurb: The Structure

Typically, there is a common approach in how to write a back cover blurb to address the main questions readers have without violating space constraints. Most professionals divide the back cover of a book into a structure of four paragraphs. The opening paragraph addresses the central questions of your story: What does your main character desire, and what obstacles stand in their way? If you can distill these key elements into just a few sentences, you’re on the right track.

In the second and third paragraphs of your back cover blurb, you should also touch on the main themes of your book and offer hints about your target audience. Tell your readers: Who will love this book? Some authors mention comparable titles, while others incorporate keywords, major themes, and symbols that readers can infer from language choices.

Throughout the back cover blurb, keep readers guessing by offering them something “the same but different” as you nod to the familiar while presenting something fresh and exciting. You want your book to feel both comforting, like a cozy visit to their favorite place, and adventurous, like an exploration of uncharted territory.

If Including an Author Bio

For your author bio, keep it concise. Limit it to two sentences, sharing your background, what you’re known for, and your current achievements. If this is your debut novel, mention that specifically. If readers want to learn more about you, they can easily find additional information via a quick online search or by visiting your website.

What About the Online Book Description?

Now, let’s talk about online book descriptions, which is a bit different from how to write a back cover blurb but a lot of the same principles apply. So the thing about physical book descriptions is that they take up real space on a real object, and they have to fit within standard limitations in order to be palatable to real readers. Unlike physical book covers with space limitations, online bookstores allow more flexibility with description length, but you must make sure to strike a balance.

So in your online book description, you can go a little wild. Within reason.

While you can provide more information online, avoid giving away the entire plot or revealing the ending before readers make their purchase. Don’t give away the whole book for free. You don’t want your online description to become too wordy. Keep it to the point and engaging, so readers will be enticed to hear everything you have to say.

Tips for Clickable Online Book Descriptions

Today’s tips for online book descriptions that maximize click-worthiness:

  1. Summarize what readers will gain from your book: Begin with a compelling “In this book, you’ll learn…” statement.
  2. If your book is part of a series, dedicate a few sentences to providing context and building anticipation for readers by discussing previous and upcoming plot points.
  3. Consider adding content warnings and comparisons like “Perfect for readers of…” to help readers identify if your book aligns with their interests or preferences. Highlight aspects such as female-led groups of characters, LGBTQ themes, or neurodivergent representation to attract your target audience effectively.

How to Write a Back Cover Blurb: Take the Time to Get it Right

By mastering the art of crafting back cover blurbs and online book descriptions, you can engage potential readers and entice them to embark on a literary journey within the pages of your book. Some writers love polishing their back cover copy and online book descriptions, but if you’re not sure how to write a back cover blurb, consider workshopping it with other writers or seeking professional advice. It’s such an essential part of your marketing package and sales tools that it’s worth the time it takes to get it to Goldilocks-perfection: Just right.

Ready to speak with an editor about your back cover blurb and online description?

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