The 3 Ps of Writing Back Cover Copy

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

Stand in Barnes & Noble and watch what prospective buyers do. Note: It’s probably best not to wear a trench coat and definitely lose the sunglasses. What were you thinking, you big creeper? Now that we’ve got that straightened out, what do you see?

First, a potential buyer pulls off a book with a jazzy front cover. Yeah, pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. Two seconds later, if the cover grabs him, it’s time for the big flip. He turns the book over in his hands, scans the back copy, and:

A.) Zingo! His eyes widen. He’s hooked. He reaches for his wallet and races to the nearest cashier.


B.) Yawn. Book goes back on shelf. End of story and any royalties for the author.

What made the difference? The back cover copy. Trust me, writing that copy is not as easy as it looks, folks. But never fear, I have a handy-dandy list-o-rama to help.


  1. Pack a punch with power words.

If you’ve only got a limited amount of words to use, then use those that are powerful. Emotional. Shocking. Controversial or evocative. Those are the kinds of words that make a reader curious and leave them drooling for more. Examples: daunting, courage, beguile

The Essential Scenes in every best-seller

Essential scenes cover

Create a powerful story with these essential scenes!

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  1. Paint a picture.

Use your sweet writing skills to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind. Give them a taste of what’s in store for them if they purchase the book. Leave them with a teaser, a big question as to what will happen.

  1. Pithy is perfect.

Nowadays everyone’s got ADD, especially on the internet. Chances are your book will be sold on Amazon, so that means you’ve got to be short and sweet, baby. Make your description as easy to understand and as pared down as possible.

It also helps if you read examples of back cover copy from books that are out there on today’s shelves. That’s not stealing. That’s smart detective work.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.