When I used to work for Bantam Books, back in the day, I occasionally was tasked with writing back cover copy for books that I had edited. I should say, rewriting. Bantam did have copywriters, but my boss, Carolyn, was a perfectionist when it came to back cover copy. After all, along with a book’s title and cover, copy is vital to convincing a customer to carry that book she just picked up over to the cash register and buy it. So sometimes, Carolyn was dissatisfied with the cover copy she received from the copy department, and she’d hand it off to me to fix.
I’d do my best and carry it back across the hall to her. She’d read it, usually with pen in hand, delete, rework, add, or sometimes just thank me and then ask someone else to work on it. Of our staff of five, I was considered the least able to write good cover copy.
That was many years ago, though, and I have improved. Many of the clients of my freelance editing business are self-published, and writing back cover copy for their books is often their task. So my clients will ask me to write it for them, or at least edit what they have written. They learn that, along with query letters and synopses, good back cover copy is one of the most difficult things to write. (When clients finish writing their books and ask me what’s next, I usually respond with, “Now that you’ve done the easy part …”)
Since I am self-publishing some of my books this year, starting with Lost Mothers and Every New Beginning, available on March 21, 2016, I now have to write my own back cover copy. Yesterday I went to my favorite café, which has the best atmosphere for working (not to mention the best coffee), ordered a cappuccino, and wrote and crossed out and rewrote and added and deleted. Then I came home, typed up the copy, and sent it to my mother. She is an excellent writer who has published several books, and so I trust her to tell me whether the copy works or not; and to help me fix any weak spots.
Once the copy has been polished so that it shines, I will send it to Nika Dixon, my cover genius, to insert into the back cover of my books. As soon as I get the proofs from her, I’ll post them here. Hopefully, everyone will agree that I’m much better at writing back cover copy since my days at Bantam.