Home > Frequently Asked Questions > Marketing Text Guidelines for Submission
Marketing Text Guidelines for Submission:
Tips to Write Your About the Book, About the Author, Marketing Headline and Keywords
Paperback Back Cover Copy/About the Book
The Back Cover Copy is a brief overview of the book that entices the reader to browse and purchase the book. The ideal length is 150 to 200 words, but it must be at least a paragraph (three or four sentences) long.
Think of this copy as a movie trailer or commercial—provide highlights, tease your audience, but don't give away the ending! This should not be a detailed, straightforward description of the book, but rather brief, pointed selling copy to interest the reader.
The back cover text for nonfiction should state what your book is about, how it's unique, and why a potential reader should buy it.
The back cover text for fiction should state the setting and main characters of your book and something about the major conflict they face.
In all marketing copy (back cover copy, author bio, and keynote), the following guidelines apply:
- Refer to the book as "the book." Instead, use the book title, set in italics, in most cases.
- Underline words or use all caps. Instead, let the text speak for itself.
- Refer to your audience as "the reader" or "readers." Instead, write the copy in a manner that incites the reader to take action. For example, instead of "Readers will learn how to improve relationships with their pets," write, "Learn how to improve your relationships with your pets."
- Write the copy in first person (I, me, my). Instead, use third person (he, she, they) and refer to yourself by name, preceded with author. Example: Author Joe Smith tells the harrowing story of his trip to the grocery store.
- Break up the back cover copy into paragraphs. One long paragraph is very difficult to read.
- Use bulleted lists help to tell the reader what’s included in the book at a glance, if your book is nonfiction.
- Make sure your bulleted lists use parallel construction for each item in the list
- Create ...
- Learn ...
- Motivate ...
- Create ...
- Learning ...
- Motivation ...
- Avoid clichés such as "a must-read" or "This book will change your life." The back cover copy is not a book review. It is a preview of the exciting world within.
- Keep the tense of your language consistent throughout.
- Make sure last paragraph of the copy is compelling the reader to take action; it's the take-away promise of the book. (This is important for nonfiction.)
- Include advance praise, if it's from a notable source (quotes from people well known in the field are good; quotes from your next door neighbor are not as useful).
- For advance praise, include short excerpts with a credit line of the person who gave you the endorsement. Rather than just a name, provide the person's title or credentials as well; for example, for a book on speed walking you could list a quote from Cathy Smith, President, Northern California Speed Walking Association. It's best to use endorsements from people or periodicals that relate to your book in some way.
If you need additional examples or ideas, look up books that compare and compete with your title and read the book descriptions on Barnes&Noble.com (bn.com). Better yet, go to your local bookstore and browse the section in which your book would ideally be shelved. Read the professionally created back cover copy of the bestselling titles in that genre; this will give you an idea of what readers will expect to see on your back cover.
Author Biography/About the Author
The Author Biography should be no more than fifty words and should consist of the following elements:
- A few statements that communicate why you are qualified to write the book, usually indicating your professional background or education. Are you an expert in this field? What unique insights or experience do you have that give your book credibility? For example, "Jane Smith is the founder and president of C-Cat, the leading online magazine for ceramic-cat collectors in the United States."
- A statement that moves from the qualifications above to something more personal. For example, "Her collection of ceramic cats now numbers more than 5,000." This personal information should relate to the book in some way.
- Where you live and something about your personal life. You don't need to be specific; your listing can be as general as the state you live in, although the city is also preferred (consumers often lean toward buying books by local authors). For example, "Smith lives with her husband, her three children, and her three real cats in Lincoln, Nebraska."
Another way of formatting the biography would be to list the following information: education, current career, other publications, family information, and regional interest (e.g., city and state of residence.
Joel Pierson is the author of numerous award-winning plays for audio and stage. He spends his days as editorial manager at the world's largest print-on-demand publishing company. Additionally, he is artistic director of Mind's Ear Audio Productions, and also writes for the newspaper in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.
Joe Author, currently a basket-weaving technician, has a bachelor's degree in basket weaving from Any University. He has previously published two other books, Baskets and You and Weave Your Way to Success. He and his wife, Mary, have four children and live in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Marketing Headline/Keynote Statement
The Marketing Headline (keynote) or "elevator pitch" should consist of one or two sentences (twenty-five word-count limit) that succinctly tell readers what the book is about and why they should buy it.
Imagine you have only ten seconds to tell someone about your book and convince him to buy it. What would you say? Be sure to avoid clichés.
- A novel of suspense, wry humor, and the paranormal, as two relative strangers take a cross-country road trip to save others in peril.
- This crafting handbook offers the newest and most innovative techniques in basket weaving and basket technology.
Keywords will help people find your title through retail outlets.
When you go to the library and search the library database by subject, or when you enter words and topics in a search engine such as Google, you are using keywords. Keywords for a romance title might be: love, betrayal, romance, love affair, paramour, Paris, and the type of romance (i.e., gothic, regency, contemporary, historical). There is no minimum number of words required, but the more words or phrases you provide that have a direct relation to the subject matter, the more opportunity people will have to find your book.