Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Book Cover Coaching: Back Cover Headlines

How to Create a Killer Back Cover Headline
aka, the "CUT and FRY" Technique . . .

By Susan Kendrick

If you’ve spent any time brainstorming a title for your book or information product, this back cover headline technique is for you. Remember all those title ideas that didn't quite make the final cut for front cover? Go back and look at them again. One of them could be a killer headline for your back cover.

Using the "Cut and Fry" Technique
A favorite example comes from a book cover title we worked on that was published in 1998 by Larry Clapp and is still getting five-star reviews on Amazon. You’ll see below why this book cover headline is still fresh in my memory. Part of it is because of the lively team dynamic that included Dan Poynter, self-publishing expert and bestselling author of The Self-Publishing Manual, now in its 16th edition. If you don't have this book, get it! Go to

Larry Clapp's book is about healing from and preventing prostate cancer. This author refused to have surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy for his cancer, instead opting to investigate alternatives therapies. Since he successfully survived on his own terms, and wanted to warn others about the potential harm of more invasive procedures, he wanted to call his book:

“Don’t Let Them Cut or Fry Your Prostate”

While this is an extremely powerful and commanding phrase . . . it only tells readers what not to do, instead of telling them what they can do or what positive benefits this book offers them. It’s also just a little scary. The solution that evolved for this title was:

“Prostate Health in 90 Days: Without Drugs or Surgery”

Much better! Again, this book is a gold mine of information, guidance, and encouragement for many men, as well as for their wives and partners. This brings up another important point about book titles. Studies continue to show that the majority of book buyers are women. While many men will read and often buy a health book like this for themselves, the more likely scenario is that many more women will buy it for their partners, husbands, sons, fathers, etc. So, which of the two titles above do you think would appeal more to the majority of buyers?

A larger part of this book’s marketing success is due to its now very powerful positive title that offers tangible results in a positive way. Imagine the relief people feel when they read or hear about this book and discover that this kind of solution is available to them. Is your book the solution people are looking for right now in their lives? Let them know exactly what it can do for them.

Back to the headline.
Here’s where “Cut or Fry” comes back into play. Imagine turning that book over, or looking at the back cover copy on your website, Amazon, or some other site, and seeing that zinger of a back cover headline, “Don’t let them cut or fry your prostate!” The author kept that phrase he initially felt so passionate about as the title, but used it where it serves the book much better.

Remember all this when you need a pull-em-in headline for the back cover of your book or information product either in print or online. Keep whatever doesn't become your title, and mine that list for ideas and power phrases that can become not only your headline, but other sound bites and taglines as well.

We recently worked with an author who used his book's title and back cover sales copy to help land a major distributor. To hear from this author and others who are using their book cover copy to successfully market their books, go to

Questions? Please give us a at 715-634-4120 or email

© Copyright 2007, Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc.

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