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Good Cover Copy: why it will completely make or break your book

At one point in your life you might have thought about writing a book. Chances are, however, that you probably haven’t thought about what you’d write for the cover copy on the back.

You know, the dust-jacket text that accompanies that funny picture of you wearing a tie.

Recently, I applied to write for a specialty at scripted.com. One of the questions I was asked to answer (in a constrained 250-300 words) was how a new author might write a successful cover copy for their new book.

If you didn’t know, I am currently writing my first book, and in a matter of months I’ll have to come up with something creative and catchy to “woo” my readers. This question was not only fun to think through, but entirely relevant!

Here’s what I submitted. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice—they’d certainly be heeded!

So, you’re new to the self-publishing industry and you’ve just finished your first novel. Congratulations are in order, but not just yet. Pat yourself on the back, grab a snack, and come back here for your next assignment. I don’t mean to spoil the fun, but you’re only halfway done.

 

Marketing. The mark of a good writer is how bad he or she is at selling their work. Okay, not really. But, the truth is that many who write have a hard time understanding the importance of advertising. Their final product might be New York Times bestseller worthy, but if they fail to woo their audience in more ways than juicy plot lines and compelling character development, their book will inevitably fall face down into a CVS sale bin.

 

One of the best ways to woo is to offer a taste. An author’s cover copy is the most delectable portion that their book has to offer, and often, it becomes the only part of the meal that gets tasted. It could make or break their novel’s success. Creating compelling cover copy requires three things: attractiveness, charm, and brevity.

 

Attractiveness is the garnish upon the plate. It means the copy should be appealing to look at. The truth is that people judge books by their covers all the time. The same is true of cover copy. Make margins, font types, and letter sizing absolutely captivating or the book will get placed right back on the shelf.

 

Charm is an art form. It is the ability to hook and engage the reader, sometimes in a way so compelling that it is mysterious. Within the first fifteen words the author must have the reader’s attention or the likelihood that they will continue reading drops severely.

 

Brevity implies delivering only the best words. It means removing adverbs and adjectives entirely. Cut straight to the dilemma and then get out. Leave the reader tasting the plot in their mouth but still feeling the hunger in their stomach.

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