Well, first, think about how you buy a book. You pick it up, look at the cover, and if you like the visuals, title, and subtitle, you flip the book over and skim the back cover. This is the last piece of promotional material that has the potential to sell the book.
The back cover copy must pull you in and make you want to know more!
Contrary to what most people believe, back cover copy is not a summary of the book. It’s the tease that draws the reader in and compels them to buy it right now! It should be provocative and engaging enough to hook a reader’s interest, yet not give away too much of the story. Who-what-where-when is a good journalistic formula, but for purposes of the back cover copy, it should only hint at what’s inside.
Think of the back cover copy as valuable real estate. There is only so much space, so you want to make sure that everything included sells your book. With that in mind, consider these things:
- Hook prospective readers with a statistic, a shocking statement or a question that forces them to think. For example: What would you do if you and your family had to survive on $500 a month?
- Think twice before you add your picture. If it doesn’t help sell your book (which it probably doesn’t if you’re an unknown or a first time author), don’t include it. If it means a lot to you, you can put it on the inside.
- When writing your bio, stick to information about your background and credentials. Answer the question, why are you qualified to write this book?
- The back cover is a good area to highlight reviews a book may have received, as well as promote the author. Try to stick to 2 – 3 sentences per review since space is limited.
- Highlight what the reader can expect to learn from the content. This often is best achieved with bullet points. (Ironic, huh?)
Consider back cover copy to be the movie trailer or preview of your book. Based on the trailer, you will decide whether to see the movie, or not. The same holds true with your book. Your cover design and copy must entice readers and make them hungry for more.
If you need help creating compelling back cover copy that will hook readers and lead to more book sales, contact us. We have professional copywriters that would love to help you share your message with the world!
Lately, it seems I’ve been presented with title after title that stirs within me a resounding, wait for it…yawn! That’s right, most book titles are downright boring. Don’t get me wrong, in most cases, there’s a powerful, compelling, helpful message inside the pages. It’s just that most readers won’t ever get that far.
So what’s the secret to crafting a compelling title. What I’m about to tell you applies to book titles, product titles, headlines for magazine and blog articles as well.
1. Be Intriguing. Some headlines or titles tell me all I need to know about what’s inside. They may be factual, but their thoroughly unoriginal. Say something that will make me stop and say “Huh?” or “Hmmm.” Stop Complaining and Start Living. In traditional marketing thinking, there’s nothing wrong with this title. It’s clear. It promises a distinct benefit. It has a nice rhythm to it. But what’s missing is the intrigue. I don’t feel I need to read this book because I already know what it’s about. Now if the title were How Complaining is Killing You or The Unexpected Secret to Living Well, well now you’ve got me curious enough to at least pick up the book, flip it over to the back cover and read more.
2. Be Contrarian. Don’t always say the expected. Often times, taking an opposing or off-beat approach to a topic is a key to getting noticed, getting media attention and standing out. If everyone is telling you that short headlines sell, then a title that reads; The Surprising Truth About Long Headlines and How You Can Use Them to Build Your Business, can set you apart from your peers and help you get noticed and build your audience. Of course, you don’t want to be so “out there” that you look like an idiot. But often times, there are powerful nuggets of truth in the minority opinions and less common wisdom. Step back and take a fresh look at your subject or industry and make note of all the traditional wisdom. Now look for key aspects of that wisdom and find subtle distinctions or anomalies that can be expanded upon.
3. Be Unique. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes a difference. Consider the book Freakonomics. That’s a one-word book titles that’s not even a word. But I was in an airport and that title (coupled with a day-glow orange cover) caught my attention and made me stop and pick up the book, which I eventually read. Look for unique ways to describe a situation, product, service, problem or opportunity. As is often the case, it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference.
Stay tuned, more keys to beating the boredom blues coming. In the meantime, if you’d like some help in crafting winning titles and compelling copy, call us.
A key aspect of successful marketing is differentiation…how to make yourself stand out from, not just your competition, but all the other distractions that may not be direct completion to your product or service. They do lay down a minefield of obstacles that can keep prospective customers from responding to YOU.
Here are three things to keep in mind. I call them the three “R’s” of good branding.
Resonate – your message needs to resonate in the mind and heart of your target audience. Your tag line, your central appeal, your book title needs to not just make sense inside the head of your consumers, it needs to create an image or an emotion. Why was Chicken Soup For The Soul such a phenomenally popular series of books? Was the wit and wisdom offered in those books really that compelling or different than the thousands of similar books that were published before? Perhaps. But the author’s were very smart in creating a title for their book that connected with their audience. Think about it…chicken soup for your soul? It doesn’t even make sense. How many times has your soul cried out for soup of any kind? And yet, when you read or say the phrase, you instinctively get it. The same is true for John Grey’s book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. The title doesn’t have to make sense…it just has to resonate in the mind and heart of the potential reader.
Repetition – you hear a message over and over and it will tend to have staying power. Think of all the slogans and tag lines that you can recall. We do chicken right. Just do it. Save money, live better. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Aflac! Tastes great, less filling. Most of these tag lines you remember because you’ve heard them over and over.
Recall – if you have a tag line or title that resonates with your audience and they hear it enough times, you will create recall or remembering! That’s what companies pay big bucks to creative agencies to come up with. They understand that if consumers can remember their product or service the next time they need it, or simply are out shopping, that will translate into more sales….or if you want to stick with our “R” theme, RESPONSE, or RESULTS or REWARDS! (hey, I’m on a roll here.)
So when planning your marketing strategy, book title, campaign theme or slogan, start with thinking about what will create emotion and resonate in the heart and mind of the consumer. Make sure they have ample opportunity to hear it over and over again. Do these first two “R’s” well and you’ve got a good shot at enjoying the benefits of the second two; recall and results!
If you would like us to help you with your brand strategies, call us. We can help you, and your team, bring a new level of clarity and connection with your consumers!
The cover design process can be a very emotional part of the process for most authors — and for good reason. Not only does this part of the process make your book more real, but its visual representation can and should evoke strong feelings.
Here are some ways your participation in the process can help create a winning package.
First, the Elements
There are several elements to the cover of a book:
- Overall design of the front cover, back cover, and spine
- Back cover copy, which offers the unique benefits and selling points of your book
- Your short bio with credentials for writing the book
- In some cases, a photo of you
You can help by sending your editor your resume and any bio you have used previously. Send in a high-resolution photo of yourself for the back cover. Give your editor some bullet points about the benefits of your book, which can be incorporated into the back cover copy.
Help with the Design
When it comes to cover design, give your input early. Send links to covers you like of existing books, and share styles and colors that appeal and resonate with you.
With HigherLife, you get several cover design options, so make sure you’ve given your input early on. You’ll want to respond with tweaks to the designs you’re given, rather than a request for total redesign, which will put you over budget.
Be Specific on Changes
When you’re given cover mock-ups, be specific about what you like or want to see changed. “I don’t like it” or “That doesn’t work for me” isn’t specific enough.
Instead, say things like, “I love the blue and would love to see the font stand out a bit more.” This is direction a designer can take and improve upon.
In short, the best way to give input is to be clear about your expectations up front and specific in your feedback. Then, trust your publisher to provide you with expert guidance for helping your book stand out in the marketplace to attract the attention of your audience.
Should your book be a paperback or a hardback? What about the size of the book? There’s no simple formula or cookie-cutter answer, but there are several factors that you should take into consideration:
1. What will the market bear? Is price a consideration? Hardback books typically have a retail price of about $5-$7 higher than paperback. And they will cost you probably only a couple bucks a book more to purchase, so financially, it would make sense to publish a hardback over a paperback right? But if your audience has some price sensitivity, then going with a hardback book could cost you both in sales and influence with your audience.
One of our clients is a successful medical professional. His book will appeal to other medical professionals (doctors, dentists etc). That audience won’t flinch at spending $20-$25 for valuable information. But if you are competing for the attention and the dollars of a summer romance novel reading audience, think twice about going with a hardback. Your audience may be willing to try something from an unknown author, but probably not willing to spend twice as much as they spend to purchase a mass market novel from a well-known author that only costs them $7.99.
2. What is the value of the information? Are you publishing exclusive information that is not readily available? Then, you might be able to go with an oversized hardback and charge $29.95 and more for that information. (Heck, some professional newsletters can cost hundreds of dollars a month and are nothing more than 4-8 pages long.) But if that information can bring the reader hundreds maybe thousands of dollars of benefit, then the cost is clearly worth paying.
3. What is the value of the author? The more well recognized the author, the easier it is to expect the audience to be willing to pay for the added expense of a hardback book. Tim Tebow recently released his memoirs…don’t get me started on what a 24 year old kid has to share with the world…but he is a sports and media darling for a variety of reasons. So, when his book came out, even though he’s a first time author, the publisher released it in hardback – and thousands of people stood in line for hours at a time waiting to buy a copy.
4. The limited access to the material. Why do you think college textbooks cost so much? In part, it’s because the information is not intended for a mass market or widely read audience. It’s targeting a specific type of student taking a specific course at a limited number of colleges and universities.
There are many, many other aspects that go into creating the “ideal” size, shape, thickness, cover design and yes, binding style of a book. Does it need to fit into a purse or pocket? Is it better to be an oversized book with a few words and big pictures (as a children’s book)? Or will a manuscript that’s over 100,000 words appear too daunting a read if it’s too thick, so the publisher chooses a thinner paper stock and perhaps tighter margins in the interior layout. Maybe it’s important to be a different trim size, well, just to be different. Good publishing takes all the subtleties into account when determining the final specifications of a book. You should, too.