The back of a book and the front matter are two sections that most readers will never see. But they’re an essential part of the publishing process, and they can be just as interesting as what’s in between those covers! This article will discuss some of the most common elements on the back of a book and the common mistakes you should avoid when writing one.
Table of Contents
What is the back of a book?
The back of a book is the part that can be seen when it is standing on a shelf. The front cover of a book usually has the title of the book and often the author’s name too. The back of a book might also have information about what other books you should read, if you liked this one, or where to find out more about the author or publisher.
There are two main types of backs: dust jackets and plain backs.
Dust jackets were standard in the 19th century but are now rare in new books. They were made from stiff paper and covered with cloth to make them look like an extra piece of clothing for your book (like an old-fashioned overcoat). They protected your book from getting dirty or damaged when it was taken outside.
The plain back doesn’t have any decoration at all. It’s plain paper or a card folded over so that only part of it shows when you hold up your book. Plain backs are most common today because they don’t cost much money, although many publishers still produce books with decorated backs.
What to put in the back of a book
The back of a book is a prime real estate for authors to put their best foot forward. It’s the last chance you have to convince readers that they should invest time and money in your book, so you should use it wisely.
1. An excerpt of the synopsis
An excerpt is a small portion of the book. It should represent the material well and be interesting but keep the ending and major plot point private. This can be tricky to write since you must think about both writing in your voice and keeping up with that voice throughout the book.
The excerpt will be an introduction for readers browsing online or thumbing through pages at bookstores or libraries. It often appears on the front flap (or front cover) before the first chapter begins.
Some authors also include excerpts within their books below opening chapters if they want people to quickly get into what they’re reading without having to read through an entire story from start to finish first (which sometimes happens).
2. An author bio
Your author bio should be in the third person POV. This is a small detail, but it makes your bio look more professional and severe rather than self-promotional.
Your author bio should be no more than two or three sentences long. Longer author bios tend to look like advertisements for you rather than helpful information about yourself as an author.
A good, basic structure for an author bio is as follows: name (or pen name), age, education, experience, writing history, and other relevant interests, such as a background in science fiction or fantasy fandom.
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. If you have more to say about yourself as an author, feel free to include it! A short author bio can be a great way to share your credentials and give readers an idea of who you are and what you’re interested in writing about.
3. Reviews and information on the book
If you’re seeking reviews, ask: Who would be the best people to read this book and provide feedback?
There are two main places you can seek reviews: from publications and readers. The more popular your book is, the easier it will be to get reviews from publications. However, even if your book isn’t super popular yet, there are still ways that you can find publications willing to review it.
And if not publications? Well, then it falls on the readers! If they like what they see when they read or hear about your book (or even hear someone talking about how much they enjoyed reading something), then the odds are good that they’ll tell at least one other person about it—and maybe two or three other people as well!
So, how do you go about getting reviews from publications? First, you need to know who will read your book. What type of people will be interested in reading it? What are their interests? If someone loves science fiction novels, but your book is a romance novel set in the 1920s, that probably doesn’t work out too well!
So, you need to figure out who will read your book before pitching it. Once you know that, it’s time to find publications that will be interested in reviewing it.
The easiest way is probably just searching around online. See if any big-name news sites have reviewed similar books and see what they say about them. If there are any positive reviews on Goodreads or Amazon (especially positive ones), then include those links when pitching magazines or newspapers!
4. Blurbs, endorsements
If you’re an author, blurbs and endorsements are your book’s two most important parts. They give readers a sense of what to expect from your book. It also helps them decide whether or not they should read it.
Blurbs are short descriptions written by someone well-known in your industry (e.g., another author or editor). Endorsements are written by authors whose names appear on the back cover of your book or inside page(s).
Both blurbs and endorsements should be written by someone well-known in their field. They shouldn’t just be colleagues or friends trying to help out because they know how much effort went into writing it!
5. An image or design element (like a graphic) to make the book cover stand out
As a designer and writer, you can shape your book cover and make it a work of art.
A great book cover will help sell your book. A high-quality design can draw in readers looking for something new and exciting, while an uninspiring design may turn them away from your content.
Think about what you want from your cover: Do you want it to get people interested in the story? Or do you want it to catch their eye, so they know they’re reading something unique?
Your goal should be to create something meaningful for yourself and other readers and bring them into your story world!
6. Links to reviews, interviews, other books written by the author, etc.
The back of a book is a great place to showcase other books you’ve written and interviews you’ve done. If people like what they read in your book, they will probably be interested in reading (or listening to) more works by you.
The content doesn’t have to be directly related; for example, if an author writes about fitness and weight loss, she can link to any other books she has written on those topics.
The back of the book is also a great place to include testimonials from readers, which can be especially effective if they’re from well-known or respected people. If you have no testimonials, consider asking your friends and family for feedback on your work before publishing it!
7. Author photo
Your author photo is one of the first things people see when they pick up your book, and it’s essential to use this opportunity to create some good first impressions. Your photo should be a headshot that shows off your best features without being too much of a close-up/ Full-body shots can make authors look like they don’t exist.
It should be professional and flattering but not overly posed or hyper-stylized; if there are props, they should be tasteful (and preferably relate directly to the subject matter). You can also choose an image in color or black and white. If you go with color, ensure the quality is high enough that it looks professional rather than amateurish.
If you’re unsure about the best way to pose for a photo, practice with friends or try out some poses in front of a mirror. You can also ask someone who knows what they’re doing (like a photographer) to help.
8. A link to the publisher’s website or social media account
When you get to the back of your book, there are two things you should include. The first is a link to the publisher’s website or social media account. This can be done in several ways, including:
- Adding an “About Us” section that includes links to their Twitter account and newsletters list
- Including a single line with text like “Find out more about us at our website .”
The second thing you should do is provide information on how readers can connect with you. You may want to include the following:
- A brief bio (try not to write too much)
- Links/addresses where readers can send gifts or letters (if appropriate)
The best place to add these things is at the end of your book. This way, it won’t take away from your story or confuse readers who don’t want to see it immediately.
9. Copyright and acknowledgments
Back matter is the part of a book that comes after the main body. It can include any additional content at the end of your work, such as an index, bibliography, glossary, appendixes, or author’s note.
A copyright page is an essential aspect of any book, especially if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. It ensures that your work is not plagiarised or copied from elsewhere on the internet or published elsewhere first.
You can also include acknowledgments (for example, to people who contributed to the book) and perhaps even dedications if you wish. This is often seen as more personal than simply saying, “Thanks for reading!”
Six mistakes to avoid when creating the back of a book
The back of the book is a crucial part of any book and needs to be treated with care. When you’re making a back cover blurb, there are several things to keep in mind:
1. Leaving out a few key elements
It’s essential to include the title, author, publisher, and ISBN on your back cover because they tell people exactly what they’re getting when they buy it.
They can also help you sell more copies of your book by making it easier for readers to find in-stock copies online (especially if you’ve ever ordered a book online and have had to wait weeks before receiving it).
Another thing many people like is the summary of the story. It gives them an idea of whether or not they’d enjoy reading this particular book. This information can sometimes be found on the flap or inside the jacket flap instead of on the back cover itself, but if there’s room, use all three spaces!
2. Including an outdated picture
In the same vein as a photo of the author, you should also ensure that any other images in the back of the book are up to date.
This includes models, actors, etc. If someone is wearing a sweater on their model, but it’s summertime, and they’re sitting by a pool – this could be confusing for readers who might be more interested in what season the book is set in than how much she weighs!
Also, consider if there are any photos of people wearing sunglasses or having their eyes closed.
These may not seem important now, but if you have an idea for a movie or TV show based on your novel years down the road and need to find good actors/actresses to play roles from your book. Having something like these pictures around could help!
3. Not giving away any detail about the book
The back of a book is an opportunity to give away just enough information about the story without giving too much away. Remember, you want your readers to feel like they have to read your book—not that they already know what happens!
Here are some tips:
- Make sure there are no spoilers. If you reveal anything significant, include that at the end of whatever sentence or paragraph contains said spoiler (that way, if someone wants to know more, they can easily skip over it).
- Instead of describing your entire novel in this one page, give readers a taste of what’s inside by mentioning the main character and his/her goal(s). You can even offer two or three sentences from different parts of your story that describe how those goals change over time or where these characters go on their journey.
4. Having no clear CTA
If you want your back-of-book sales page to convert, you must have a clear call to action. But what does that mean?
A call to action is simply an instruction that prompts the user to take action. It tells them what they should do next!
If a reader finds something interesting on your site and wants more information, an excellent call to action will tell them precisely what you want them to do. Click through, schedule an appointment, download the app, and so on.
A bad call-to-action would be something like “buy now,” which isn’t specific enough for people who haven’t decided yet if they’re interested in buying something. You need a specific request or instruction here (such as “schedule an appointment” or “download our app”).
5. Making its appearance look sloppy
The back of the book is a crucial part of your book marketing plan. It’s something that you should be investing some time into. However, don’t let yourself get distracted by choosing fonts that are too small or getting sloppy with your layout.
Make sure everything on this page is easy to read and looks clean and professional. Otherwise, readers will be turned off by what they see there—even if they love your story! Here are a few tips for creating an eye-catching back cover:
- Use a clean, straightforward design: Too many borders or textures can make it difficult for people to focus on what’s important—the content! Stick with primary lines or shapes like circles or squares instead of using intricate geometric designs or images like flowers or animals.
- Use a professional font: Choose fonts that look good in size and style (serif vs. sans serif). Certain combinations will work better than others, depending on how big the text will be. For example, Times New Roman tends to work better when used at large sizes, but Calibri might look better at smaller sizes due to its thin lines, which help create more separation between letters. Also, remember whether any particular words would benefit from being italicized and how long sentences are so they can have proper spacing between them without looking cluttered together on screen (imperative if using limited space!).
6. Being too wordy or having no purpose
The back of a book is not a place to tell the story. It’s not a place to discuss the characters, plot, or setting.
The back of a book is only an advertisement for the content within. It should be concise and focused on selling that content. You don’t have time for filler when trying to sell something—you need every word in your copy to count!
So what does this mean? It means don’t get too wordy with some vague description of what happens in your book without any specifics because people care only if they know how they can benefit from reading it.
If you want potential readers to care about what happens next, tell them exactly why they should give up their hard-earned money on something like yours (and make sure it’s worth it).
Frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some of your frequently asked questions!
When should I write the back of my book?
After you have written your book, it is time to create the back of your book. And before you send it to an editor, this is an excellent time to write a few sentences about yourself. Also, add some information about how people can contact you if they have questions about the book or its contents.
You could include links that direct them directly to where they need to go for more information about your work or products/services.
How long should it be?
The back of a book is not an advertisement. It’s not a place to list every award you have ever won or to describe your other works. The best way to write the back of a book is to think about what a reader wants from it and then give it to them.
The most important thing for any writer writing their back-of-the-book copy is to be clear and concise. You want this section to be as short as possible but at most one full page (250 words). Anything longer will weary readers before they get through even half of your book summary!
How do I start writing the back of my book?
The back of your book is where a new reader learns about your story. It’s the last chance to convince them that this is worth their time, so it needs to be as good as possible.
Your first paragraph should set up the story to make readers want more. This can be done by introducing an intriguing character, explaining a critical plot point, or sharing great dialogue between two characters. It can be anything that draws people into the narrative will work here!
The rest of your summary should go through each event and explain how they were resolved at the end. How did everyone get along with each other? Did they save the day? Did anyone die? How did they get home again?
Leave your readers satisfied but wanting more—and ensure no major questions are left unanswered!
Can I test multiple versions of my book cover at once?
Yes, you can test multiple versions of your book cover at once. It’s a great way to see which works best and converts best. You’ll need to upload each variation as a separate copy to create multiple variations of the same image.
This will allow you to set up different variables when it comes time for conversion testing. It involves changing the title and subtitle text in each variation separately or adjusting the price per unit in order to see if that affects conversions (it usually does!).
What is an ARC?
An ARC is an advance reader copy. It’s a free copy of the book distributed to reviewers and booksellers. An ARC is not the final version of the book. It could have the final artwork or jacket design, but there may be typos in it as well. As with all pre-publications, it’s not guaranteed that you will like what you read (if anything).
Now that you know the essentials to craft compelling copy and book proposals, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, the back matter is one of the most critical aspects of your book. It rounds out what you’ve written and stalks readers with extra information.