Editor’s Note: This post has been written by book cover experts Susan Kendrick and Graham Van Dixhorn who are currently judges* (see below) for the Book Cover Category in Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards.
To assist authors in creating strong titles and back cover marketing copy for their ebook covers, Susan and Graham have compiled this checklist, which will also be used as the judging criteria for the Book Cover Category. Many thanks for their permission to reprint it here. It’s also availabe as a PDF (send me an email to request it).
For full details about Global eBook Awards (submission deadline is June 30), go quickly to www.awardsforebooks.com You’ll find entry rules, dates, ebook categories, and answers to any questions. This website is also designed as a complete resource for all things ebook.
Back Cover Sales Copy:
Your back cover sales copy is the most important ad copy you will draft for your book. You will use it everywhere, not just on the back cover, but also as the basis for most of your advertising and promotion. You will post it on Amazon, your website, etc.
Space is limited! Don’t include anything on the outside that does not sell the inside. You have room for about 300-350 words and 10-15 seconds to get someone to make a buying decision.
The following checklist is primarily for nonfiction ebooks. (We will only be judging the marketing copy, not any of the logistical details like ISBN, barcode, and price, so those details are not included here.)
1. Clean, Crisp, Inviting Copy. It may go without saying, but even if all the elements are there, your back cover still has to “sing.” Keep sentences short and light. Be conversational. Speak right to your reader. Avoid jargon. Be fresh but authoritative.
2. Headline. This can be a statement, a question, a powerful statistic, a high-end endorsement, and more. Surprise, delight, and inspire! But, do NOT repeat the title. One way to come up with a good headline, however, is to look at all those ideas that didn’t make the cut for your title or subtitle. Look at them again. One of them may be perfect as your back cover headline.
3. Positioning. This section follows the headline. This is where you connect with your potential buyer’s needs and interests. Make the case for what they get from your ebook. Describe what makes it new or different or how it fills a gap in what people already know about your topic or the solutions that are available. Keep this section one or two short paragraphs of several lines each.
4. Bullet Points. The key to your back cover is to keep things highly visual. That’s why you use chunks of copy—like your headline, brief positioning paragraph, and now the bullets. For nonfiction ebooks, the bullets should describe the benefit to the reader of using the ideas in your ebook or listening to your story. Use 5 to 7 bullet points and lead into the list with a phrase like, “Learn how you can.” Then start each bullet point with a powerful verb to create energy and momentum.
5. Testimonials. Having the right people endorse your ebook adds a lot of credibility to it. Aim high: What a testimonial says is less important than who says it. Potential buyers look at the endorser’s name, title, company, affiliation, etc. You can use one good testimonial. A maximum of three testimonials is a good rule. Keep them to just one or two short sentences. NOTE: If you do not have any testimonials yet, don’t worry. Just make sure the rest of your back cover copy is strong.
6. Bio. Your Bio should be short but packed with credentials. Include your professional accomplishments, background, awards, the title of a previously published book or ebook, etc. Demonstrate your credentials to write this ebook. Also mention other services you offer, like consulting or speaking, to generate leads. If you have more than you can fit on several lines, you can include a longer, more complete Bio on an “About the Author” page at the end of your ebook.
7. What NOT to Put on Your Ebook Cover. Do not include anything that will divert attention from the interior of your ebook: Your publishing company name, your company URL, or a QR code.
Those first seven points include the main marketing components on your back cover. Here are tips for creating crisp, clean, inviting copy for each component:
8. What Makes You Different? What do you offer in your ebook that’s unique and different that people need and want—and can’t get anywhere else?
9. Why Should Anyone Care? Again, keep in mind that it’s not what your ebook is about; it’s about what’s in it for the reader.
10. Decide What to Say—Then How to Say It. There are a lot of great-sounding ways to write copy. What can you say on your back cover that could not be said on any other ebook? That is the essence of your marketing message.
Since 1988, Susan Kendrick and Graham Van Dixhorn have been making every word count for a wide range of businesses and entrepreneurs. Their clients have included corporate giants such as DuPont, IBM, and Mayo Clinic. In 1992, they began working intensively with individual authors, speakers, and consultants who were taking their expertise to the next level.
As business branding and book cover experts, Susan and Graham develop book titles, subtitles, back cover sales copy, testimonials, and other client-attracting sales copywriting. For more details, go to www.writetoyourmarket.com
* In addition to picking the best covers from those submitted, Susan and Graham will be featuring many covers on their blog over the next two months with a brief “What’s Great About This Ebook Cover?” write-up. They will use select ebook covers to point out a key book cover strategy—always something positive—so you and your ebook look good. This gives you even more marketing visibility!
Make a comment or ask a question about creating great back cover copy in the comments box below.