Relieving “Backache” 7 Ways to Get the Reader from Back Cover to Cash Register

May 2001
by Chad Allen

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Pretend you’re a fly on the wall of a big bookstore.


Enter reader. His first stop is the café, where he orders a double skinny mocha latte. A teenage barista begins to steam milk for this drink. The latte will be ready in three minutes, so in that time the reader needs to find a book to skim with his cherished elixir. The reader walks to a bookshelf. With each book, he scans the front and then flips it over to the back. Some back covers grab him for a few seconds, while others barely solicit a glance.


But look! Now he’s smiling. The reader likes this one. He’s been looking at it for at least 30 seconds. “Yes!” he says and then proceeds to carry the book to the café. Later he’ll bring it to the cash register.


What made that reader put down the others yet keep this book? You guessed it!–a strong back cover. Here are seven approaches for writing back covers that have pushed books into bags for years.

1. The Question Approach

Good questions are for a marketer what nails are to a carpenter. Why? Because questions work! They capture the reader’s interest. Good questions give voice to unspoken, yet real needs, and customers want what will meet their needs.


Some books, like Change Your Life by Becky Tirabassi, use several questions to rivet the reader’s attention: “Do you struggle with a weight problem, an addiction, or a bad habit?”…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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