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I’d say nearly all of the authors I work with have given exactly half a minute’s thought to one of the most critical pieces of their published book: the back jacket copy.

That’s because as an author you get so caught up with creating the MEAT of the book, the content of the book, you tend to let the idea of marketing slip by the wayside. Or worse yet, think that somebody else will do it for you!

And it’s true that many publishing options will give you guidance, and traditional publishing will even write the back jacket copy for you, that never gives you a Get Out of Jail Free card when it comes to not even thinking about all the marketing that goes into publishing and selling a book!

So, just how do you write the back jacket copy? Here are five tips:

1. It’s MARKETING copy!
Nobody cares that you spent 3,000 hours writing the book! They want to know what they’re getting. So you need to tell them what’s in it for them – what transformation are they getting.

Think of it as marketing copy that might appear on your website for your opt-in gift: it touches their pain and promises to solve it. The copy wants to convince the readers to pick up the book, buy it, and READ it. Focus on the benefits!

2. Length?
This is going to depend on all the OTHER stuff that goes on your book’s back jacket as well as your trim size. My suggestion is to write MORE than you could possibly fit and then edit it down to something tightly written and punchy.

You want every single word to count. But trust me, it’s way easier to cut it down to fit than it is to agonize over every word on a super-short piece and then try to add to it when it doesn’t look good on the cover.

3. Read other back jackets in your genre
There is a certain style to all back jacket copy – compelling, brief, exciting, and someone like a journalistic style. (Read some and you’ll see what I mean!) But within those over-reaching guidelines, each genre will have its own rules as well.

When you’re reading back jacket copy, make sure you’re reading the stuff on the best-selling books in your genre. There’s a reason they’re the best sellers! And if you’re going to be a copycat – copy the RIGHT cat!

(You do understand I don’t mean ACTUALLY copying somebody’s back jacket copy, I mean copying their STYLE!)

4. Think about keywords
I know it sounds funny, but search engines WILL use this copy! But don’t focus your SEO and keywords on the spiders, they don’t buy books! Instead, think about keywords that will ring bells in your potential reader’s brain. Just like keywords to attract Google results, using the language your reader thinks to herself will make your book more attractive to her.

5. End with a strong Call To Action
For book jacket copy, this is only ONE call to action: buy the book! Too often, I’ve seen book’s jacket copy just fizzle out. Or the author thinks that just because their picture and abbreviated bio is on the jacket, somebody will buy the book. (This is falling into the expert trap!)

Sorry to tell you this, but NOPE! Some people might buy the book off the strength of your name, but most people will buy it because it’s promising to solve their pain!

Here are some examples:

  • If you’re tired of spending more money than you earn, you need this book!
  • This book will show you exactly how to get your kids to go to bed – without the fight. So don’t spend another night arguing – buy BOOK TITLE today!

And if you’re really stuck, I do recommend hiring a professional! Writing the  back jacket copy is included in any of my publishing packages!

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Kimberly Eldredge

Kimberly is an author, illustrator, and entrepreneur. She helps coaches, speakers, and authors take the content they already have and FINALLY get their book written and published.
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