Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sell More Books With a Powerful Back Cover

Filed under: Back Book Cover Tips,Book Cover Tips,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 8:00 am
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Judy Cullins, Guest Author

Did you know that your back cover information is, after the cover, the best way to sell more books? And, that most authors, emerging and experienced, miss this opportunity to engage more potential buyers?

frustratedwriterYour book’s front cover and sizzling title must impress your buyers in four-eight seconds. If they like it, they will spend ten or so seconds on your back cover – a great opportunity to convince them that your book is necessary for what they want.

Does your back cover pass the test?

Best Solutions to the Biggest Mistakes

1. Mistake: Too many non-powerful words and too busy to have a focus.

Solutions: A back cover of 6 by 9 inches should have fewer than 70 words. Use sound bites; picture and emotional words; benefits, not features; and testimonials to capture your readers’ attention to keep your message focused. Make every word count and be willing to get five-fifteen edits.

2. Mistake: Too much superfluous material on it such a long author’s bio or large photo.

Potential buyers want to know how the book will help them, teach them a skill, or entertain them. They don’t care much about you. They want their concerns addressed.

Solutions: Print only a one or two-line bio on the back cover. Put your photo and more bio on the inside of the back cover. Omit features such as format information, which belong in the mini sales letter short introduction.

Connect with your buyer emotionally with specific, powerful ad copy. For self-help books use bullets with specific benefits, and enough of the right kind of testimonials to sell your book in under 15 seconds. For fiction, modify to include a startling scene with snappy including a bit of plot, and maybe a powerful quote. Use bookstore models to assist you.

editing3. Mistake: Repeating the book’s title at the top of the back cover.

Solutions: Since your potential buyers already know the title and are stimulated enough to look at the back cover, hook them with an emotional question or headline that gives them the #one benefit of your book.

Create a”Hot Headline” that compels your reader to buy. Notice the headlines in your newspaper. Visit your bookstore and notice other best selling authors’ headlines. “What’s So Tough About Writing?” by word smith Richard Lederer, author of The Write Way; ”Imagine Being an Author,” in Dan Poynter’s Writing Nonfiction; or “To Age is Natural…To Grow Old is Not! In Rico Caveglia’s Ageless Living.

4. Mistake: Omitting testimonials.

Solutions: Testimonials sell more books than any other information on the back cover. Put at least three up. Contact a variety of people. Use one from a top professional in your field, one from a satisfied reader, one from a celebrity who cares about your topic, and one from a top media person. These can be local contacts.

Example: “The Ten Commitments of Networking by Larry James is a wise and powerful guideline that will help lead you to the life you deserve!” ~ Og Mandino, Bestselling Author, The Greatest Salesman in the World

In her book, “A Kick in Your Inspiration,” Ruth Cleveland got one testimonial from an ex convict! Jacqueline Marcell, author of Elder Rage, took eight months to get forty testimonials from celebrities. Her book is endorsed by: Steve Allen, Ed Asner, Dr. Dean Edell, Dr. John Gray, Dr. Nancy Snyderman/ABC, Regis Philbin, Jacqueline Bisset, and Phyllis Diller.

Worth the effort? Yes, because in April 2001, she made the cover of the AARP Bulletin distributed to over 35 million readers. It included a feature story, some how-tos and contacts and pictures of the author and her book. She had to dance fast, and order 10,000 books to get distributed by the time the piece came out. After it came out, she was inundated with speaking engagements. There’s a problem you might love to have!

WRITERatWORKAfter you write several books and become rich and famous, you, like other professionals, will fill your back cover with testimonials. You won’t even need to add benefits, because people have already bought your other books and liked them.

Potential buyers will purchase when they see people they trust and know recommend the book. Besides filling the back cover with testimonials, you may want to even add extra testimonials in title page, right after the cover. The more testimonials, the better!

If you are unsure how to ask for testimonials the easy way, contact a professional book coach.

5. Mistake: Independent publishers submitting galleys to reviewers, distributors, and wholesales without ANY back cover information.

Solutions: “Make the back cover your first area of concern,” says Susan Howard, Director of Consulting Services at top publishing firm, The Jenkins Group Inc., who write “The Publishing Connection” She adds, “Waiting for testimonials is generally the reason the back cover of a galley is left blank. Failure to realize the value of the back cover seems to equate with the failure to realize that the text for the finished back cover can always be changed before the printing of the book.”

Click book cover to order

6. Mistake: You don’t put up a sales letter on your Web site where you sell your book.

Solutions: Your back cover information is important for your print books, but don’t forget eBooks and print books also need a sales letter that includes these points to go up on your book-selling Web site.

You need to put up powerful benefits that give your web visitor enough information that he or she can make an educated decision to buy.

It’s important for writers to “market while they write” with the “Essential Hot-Selling Points” – To make each part of their book sell copies. The book’s back cover and web and email sales letters are all-important.

Copyright 2011 by Judy Cullins. – Reprinted with permission. Judy is an author, publisher, and book coach. She helps writers manifest their book dreams. More than 25 clients published since 1999! “Write Your eBook or Other Short Book-Fast!” – www.bookcoaching.com. Send an e-mail to Subscribe@bookcoaching.com. The Book Coach Says… For 2 FREE eReports send e-mail to: Judy@bookcoaching.com.

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Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Drafting Your Back Cover Sales Copy

Filed under: Book Cover Tips,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 7:00 am
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Dan Poynter, Guest Author

The outside of your book should sell the inside. Everyone judges a book by its cover – and what you can do about it.

People do not read the book before making a buying decision. Consumers do not read it in the store. Sales reps only carry book covers and jackets to show store buyers while wholesalers and distributors say “just send us the cover copy.” All buying decisions are made on the illustration/design and the sales copy on the outside of the book. Yes, packaging is everything.

Each year, U.S. industry spends more than $50 billion on package design. Now, that is not $50 billion for the packages, not for the contents. That money is for the design of the packages. Packages prompt buyers to reach for the product whether it is pantyhose, corn flakes or hair spray.

Stores have tens of thousands of books being displayed spine-out. With all this congestion, it is hard to get attention. Initially, all a potential buyer sees is the book’s spine. If the browser takes it down, he or she will gaze at the cover about four seconds and the flip it over to read the back cover. On average, he or she will spend just seven seconds here, so the trick is to keep them reading longer. Your copy has to be punchy and benefit-laden; it has to speak to the potential buyer.

For free instructions on how to write the sales copy and lay out your covers, download my Book Cover Worksheet, Doc­u­ment 116, and fill in the blanks.

Your book cover designer will lay out the package and incorporate the illustration, put it all on disk and send it to your printer, but you must draft the sales copy. This book cover worksheet will take you step-by-step through the sales copy draft process. Use your computer so you will be able to move the copy around once entered.

Drafting ad copy is hard work. Ad copy writers, people who write ads for a living, need to stimulate their imagination. Most of them study the field constantly. When they see an element of an ad they like in a magazine or on line, they will pull it out, circle the good part and put it in a “swipe file.” When they are commissioned to write an ad, they will go through the swipe file looking for ideas. You can use the same stimulating procedure but there is an easier, more direct way to do it.

Look for four or five other books at Amazon that are very close to your book. Think to yourself, if someone were to buy that book, would they be a good candidate to buy your book? Print out the multiple pages. Highlight the buzz words and good book descriptions. Now, spread out the page and draft your sales copy. All the good, descriptive sales copy is in front of you. The highlighting will stimulate your copywriting imagination and make the drafting easy.

A. Front cover

Select a working title and subtitle. Keep the title short and make the subtitle descriptive.
List the most important person in your field (association or industry) for the foreword (and please note the spelling of Foreword.) You will try to get them to pen the foreword later.

B. Spine

Stack the title on the spine so it will read more easily on the shelf. Use a bold, san-serif, vertically-legged typeface such as Arial Black, bolded.

C. Back cover

1. Category. Visit a bookstore and check the shelf where your book will be displayed. Note the categories on the books and the shelves. Listing the category on the back cover of your book will insure your book will be easy to find — because the bookshop personnel will place it on the right shelf.

2. Now you need an arresting headline addressed to potential buyers. You want them to relate to the book and find themselves in it. Do not repeat the title here; do not bore the potential buyer. You have already “said it” on the front. Use an alternate approach. For example, The Self-Publishing Manual’s back-cover headline is Why Not Publish Yourself?

3. Description. Concisely (two to four sentences) state what the book is about. What will the reader gain by reading this book?

4. Bulleted promises or benefits. Promise to make readers better at what they do. Be specific. Focus on who your audience is and what they want. Think: about who are you talking to and what are they going to get from the book.

You will discover:

• (benefit)
• (benefit)
• (benefit)
• (benefit)

5. Testimonials and endorsements. Dream up three different endorsements from people you would like to quote. If “This book changed my diplomatic strategy. – Colin Powell,” would look good, try it. Use names or titles recognizable in your field — sources that might impress potential buyers. This is just a draft; dress it up. You will secure some of these quotations later.

6. Show the author is the ultimate authority on the subject. Just two or three sentences will do.

7. End with a sales closer in bold type. Ask the book browser to buy the book. Use something like “This book has enabled thousands to . . . and it will show you the way too.”

8. Price. The book industry likes a price on the book. The price is a turn-off to potential buyers so place it at the end of the sales copy. Never locate the price at the top of the back cover. If this is a hardcover book, place the price at the top of the front flap.

9. Bar code with International Standard Book Number (ISBN). The bar code on a book identifies the ISBN, which in turn identifies the publisher, title, author and edition (hardcover, etc.). Make room for, but do not worry about, the bar code and ISBN just now.

For more details on the ISBN and bar code, see Document 112 (FREE).

Your title, subtitle, back-cover headline and benefits may be swapped. Once you have them written down, you may wish to move some of them around. Perhaps one of your benefits would be a better subtitle.

Most back cover copy is weak and uninspiring. The title is repeated and then is followed by several quotations and a bar code and that’s it! Haphazard copy is the sign of lazy (and maybe inexperienced) copywriter. This lack of effective competition on the shelf gives us the upper hand.

Book cover illustrations and design have improved tremendously over the past 30 years. Author/publishers used to spend all their efforts on the text and the cover became an after-thought.

DanPoynterbookSome publishers remember it was Robert Howard who brought bright, insightful, relevant, remarkable covers to the industry. There are many great cover designers today and it was Robert Howard who started it all. A good cover artist will read through your book and create a cover that will reflect the message of the text. The cover and text should match.

Years ago, we said, “Write your ad before you write your book.” This was to help you focus on who you were writing to and what you were going to give them. Then we realized the most important ad you will ever write is your back cover copy. Now we say: “Write your cover copy before you write your book.”

Packages sell products and covers sell books. Give your books the opportunity in the marketplace they deserve. Package your text to quickly tell the idle browser what is inside.

Larry’s Note: If you are going to self-publish your book, my friend, Dan Poynter, will be one of the greatest resources you can have. Dan is known as the “Guru of Self-Publishing!”

Dan Poynter

Copyright © 2011 – Dan Poynter. Reprinted with permission. Dan Poynter is the author of 126 books, including Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book. He’s been a publisher since 1969. For more publishing and book marketing tips, follow @DanPoynter on Twitter, and visit his website, blog, and YouTube page.

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Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

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