Nonfiction Book Writing, Self Publishing, & Marketing Coach

Sell More Books With a Powerful Back Cover

Book Back CoverDid you know that your back cover information is, after the front cover, the best way to sell more books? And, that most authors, emerging and experienced, miss this opportunity to engage more potential buyers?

Your book’s front cover and sizzling title must impress your buyers in four to eight seconds. If they like it, they will spend ten or so seconds on your back cover - a great opportunity to convince them that your book is necessary for what they want.

Does your back cover pass the test?

Best Solutions to the Biggest Mistakes

1. Mistake: Too many non-powerful words and too busy to have a focus.

Solutions: A back cover of 6 by 9 inches should have fewer than 70 words. Use sound bites; picture and emotional words; benefits, not features; and testimonials to capture your readers’ attention to keep your message focused. Make every word count and be willing to get five-fifteen edits.

2. Mistake: Too much superfluous material on it such a long author’s bio or large photo.

Potential buyers want to know how the book will help them, teach them a skill, or entertain them. They don’t care much about you. They want their concerns addressed.

Solutions: Print only a one or two-line bio on the back cover. Put your photo and more bio on the inside of the back cover. Omit features such as format information, which belong in the mini sales letter or short introduction.

Connect with your buyer emotionally with specific, powerful ad copy. For self-help books use bullets with specific benefits, and enough of the right kind of testimonials to sell your book in under 15 seconds. For fiction, modify to include a startling scene with snappy copy including a bit of plot, and maybe a powerful quote. Use bookstore models to assist you.

3. Mistake: Repeating the book’s title at the top of the back cover.

Solutions: Since your potential buyers already know the title and are stimulated enough to look at the back cover, hook them with an emotional question or headline that gives them the #1 benefit of your book.

Create a ”Hot Headline” that compels your reader to buy. Notice the headlines in your newspaper. Visit your bookstore and notice other best selling authors’ headlines. “What’s So Tough About Writing?” by word smith Richard Lederer, author of The Write Way; ”Imagine Being an Author,” or “To Age is Natural…To Grow Old is Not! In Rico Caveglia’s Ageless Living.

4. Mistake: Omitting testimonials.

Solutions: Testimonials sell more books than any other information on the back cover. Put at least three up. Contact a variety of people. Use one from a top professional in your field, one from a satisfied reader, one from a celebrity who cares about your topic, and one from a top media person. These can be local contacts.

In her book, A Kick in Your Inspiration, Ruth Cleveland got one testimonial from an ex convict! Jacqueline Marcell, author of Elder Rage, took eight months to get forty testimonials from celebrities. Her book is endorsed by: Steve Allen, Ed Asner, Dr. Dean Edell, Dr. John Gray, Dr. Nancy Snyderman/ABC, Regis Philbin, Jacqueline Bisset, and Phyllis Diller.

Worth the effort? Yes, because in April 2001, she made the cover of the AARP Bulletin distributed to over 35 million readers. It included a feature story, some how-tos, contacts, and pictures of the author and her book. She had to dance fast, and order 10,000 books to get distributed by the time the piece came out. After it came out, she was inundated with speaking engagements. There’s a problem you might love to have!

After you write several books and become rich and famous, you, like other professionals, will fill your back cover with testimonials. You won’t even need to add benefits, because people have already bought your other books and liked them.

Potential buyers will purchase when they see people they trust and know recommend the book. Besides filling the back cover with testimonials, you may want to even add extra testimonials in your title page, right after the cover. The more testimonials, the better!

If you are unsure how to ask for testimonials the easy way, contact a professional book coach.

5. Mistake: Independent publishers submitting galleys to reviewers, distributors, and wholesales without ANY back cover information.

Solutions: “Make the back cover your first area of concern,” says Susan Howard, Director of Consulting Services at top publishing firm, The Jenkins Group Inc., who write “The Publishing Connection.” She adds, “Waiting for testimonials is generally the reason the back cover of a galley is left blank. Failure to realize the value of the back cover seems to equate with the failure to realize that the text for the finished back cover can always be changed before the printing of the book.”

6. Mistake: You don’t put up a sales letter on your website where you sell your book.

Solutions: Your back cover information is important for your print books, but don’t forget ebooks and print books also need a sales letter that includes these points to go up on your book-selling website.

You need to put up powerful benefits that give your web visitor enough information that he or she can make an educated decision to buy.

It’s important for writers to “market while they write” with the “Essential Hot-Selling Points” - to make each part of their book sell copies. The book’s back cover and web and email sales letters are all-important.

Get more information on all of the 9 pre-marketing strategies that sell more books.

Judy Cullins

Judy Cullins

Book Coach at
Judy Cullins, MA, is a book coach extraordinaire with 30 years of expertise.In her VIP packages, she offers entrepreneurs, leaders, and upper management shortcuts to complete their ebook and print book fast. She teaches the essential skills to self-publish and market your book and services online with powerful results.
Judy Cullins
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  • Got a back-cover blurb to write today so thank you so much for the help.

  • Great article and timely for me…just about to put the front and back cover of my book: The Book on Networking: Face-to-Face Networking is Dead. Wrong!

    I knew my picture/bio should be inside…yet, you provided me with the why for the testimonials etc. Looks like I better get busy getting them.

    Also agree about the proofing!! Been there done that when I didn't have enough eyes on it.

  • kayreusser

    So much to learn! It seems like I should know more after writing 9 chn's bks. Thanks for these ideas. They will be helpful for my next bks.

  • My book is already out, but I knew all of the way through this article there would be some place else I could apply this information. You didn't disappoint me. Now I'm going to get busy and write a sales letter. Thanks, Judy.

  • Brilliant! For my next book… but how do you get 'known' people to put their accolades on a book before it's published?
    In passing, my blog is and I would be grateful if you subscribed. Content is radical thinking about business matters. 'How Companies Really Grow'; next is 'Crystal Balls', which dismantles a few myths about business.

  • You're so right about testimonials. If I only knew how to get one.

  • this is good information but just wondering how this apples to fiction stories especially childrens books. Is there a link to a place that helps children story book authors? I enjoy your info and have followed your blog for over a year but find it it all geared to non-fiction which is great but just wondering if you could point me in the direction of marketing for fiction books

  • This article is right-on. A reader gives about 15 seconds to be “hooked.” Just like a fish, they’re not even going to nibble if we don’t have the right bait. Too much information deters the busy reader. Too little information just doesn’t give them enough to want more.

    Very good suggestions on how to resolve these errors.


  • Great information. Looks like I have made a couple of the listed mistakes. I will work on revamping our back cover.

  • This comes at a timely moment for me as I am evaluating how to proceed with self-publishing. I’ve heard how critical the book cover is, but now I have more concrete information. Thanks for such an informative post.

  • Judy, glad you came here to find what you need to proceed.

  • Kaye you are welcome. You will get a lot of value from my long time great selling “Write your eBook Fast” at

  • Jeanette,

    To revamp your back cover and get free report on How to Get Testimonials from the Rich and Famous check out

  • Brenda, Glad you got value from this blog. To get all the answers and how to do it, see my best selling book at

    It will help you through from ch. writing to getting good testimonials and the pre-marketing you need to launch a book.

  • This is Great!!!! Information Wish I found this sooner Hoping to do well with this New book I have coming out

  • Judy Cullins - This is a very useful article. Much of it seems to be common sense that you confirmed with this article, the rest of it seems intuitive that most writers should know. I will try to remember this article when it becomes time to publish my first full-length novel.

    Thank you.

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