I’m writing the back cover copy for my newest book. Basically, that’s the little description you find on a book when you flip it over. It’s like a mini synopsis of the story, but it doesn’t give away all of the details…it gives readers just enough information to make them want them to read the whole thing.
It’s tricky because you have a little bit of space to work with. You have to decide which plot points and characters need to be mentioned, and which ones need to stay hidden. You have to show the voice/personality of the story, while also keeping it polished.
Here’s the back cover copy of All of This:
Sadie Franklin is all about independence, but when one of her popular parties gets too crazy, her usually uninvolved dad sends her across the country to spend the summer with relatives.
Living in small-town Pecan Creek, Georgia, is culture shock for a girl from Seattle, and it doesn’t help that Sadie’s aunt and uncle are total church people. Sunday school? No, thanks.
Add a houseful of little cousins, an accidental friendship with the preacher’s daughter of all people, and the attention of a guy who might actually understand her murky past, and it’s enough to cue an identity crisis.
When life-altering news rocks Sadie’s world and reveals messy family secrets, she’s forced to face the God she’s avoided since her mom’s death eight years ago. Sadie is surrounded by people who say God loves her and has great plans for her life, but if God is really good, why does He let Sadie’s life unravel? Could there really be a purpose in all of this?
See how Sadie is the only character who’s actually named? There are several other people in the book, but it’s her show. Also, see how some things are mentioned but not completely explained? Like, who is the “guy who might actually understand her murky past?” If you’ve read the book, you’ll know. But if you dive into it for the first time, that’s something you figure out as you go.
The back cover copy also shows the theme of the book. Look at that question at the end of the last paragraph: “Could there really be a purpose in all of this?”
And finally, the back cover copy lets you know the character’s journey isn’t going to be easy. There will be conflict in the pages – with uncontrollable circumstances, with other people, and within the main character herself.
So that’s what I’m working on with this next book. No, it’s not getting shopped around for publication yet, but making the back cover copy is part of the process. Sadie will be the focus again, but I have to decide what parts of the story to share with people. I have to ask myself: What other characters do I mention? Which plot points do I include? How do I incorporate the theme?
To sum it up, the back cover copy is a quick glance at a much deeper story.
Fun fact: This post isn’t actually about writing. As I was thinking through the back cover copy for my project, it made me wonder: how would I honestly sum up my own life? If I were to write a back cover copy for The Life of Anna Schaeffer (still working on a title for my pretend memoir), what would I include? Who would I include? Which details of my life story would I mention? What gets to the heart of who I really am?
Naturally, I’d put my faith on there. But if I were being honest about the conflict in my life, how would that look on the copy? Would it say I don’t always pray like I should? Would it say I love Jesus, but sometimes I struggle to step out of my comfort zone?
What about my relationships with others? Would it say I’m a loyal friend, a daughter who honors her parents, a good sister?
What would be the theme of my story? The thread woven throughout the pages of my journey?
It’s a lot to think through, I know. But I think it’s good for us to evaluate our life like that – to take an honest look at what others see when they interact with us.
I pray the back cover copy of my life story points to Jesus. I pray it reads that no, I don’t have it all together, but Jesus holds me together. My hope is that others see grace as that theme woven throughout my story. And I pray that snapshot of my life and His grace makes others want to learn more about the theme.
What about you? What would be in the back cover copy of your life?