Every book that has a front cover also has a back cover (unless someone tore it off, or it’s an ebook).
In a physical bookstore, the back cover is an important selling tool, an advertising medium. Make the most of it! It gives you an excellent opportunity to convince a prospective customer to purchase the book plucked from a shelf or display.
It’s very different when you are selling online. Amazon does not automatically show your back cover. If you want potential customers to see it and read it, you have to upload the image yourself by clicking on "Share your own customer images."
(above) It’s customary to indicate the book’s classification, such as “humor” or “gardening,” so bookstore people know where to put the book. There’s no rule against listing two classifications such as “history” and “geography” if they both apply. Find out how competitive books are classified, and check the huge book subject list at the Book Industry Study Group. The classification is usually printed at the top of the back cover.
(above) If you want your book to be sold by booksellers, your back cover must show an ISBN and its associated bar code, which usually go at the bottom. Many books have their prices printed near the ISBN bar code -- and many don’t. If you don’t have a printed price, it makes it easier for you to experiment with price changes.
Here’s what else you should include on the back:
- What the book is about and why people should buy it
- Comments (blurbs) from readers and reviewers if available (see top photo)
- Unless you are a superstar, your brief biography, to establish yourself as an authority in the field you are writing about (less important for fiction and poetry)
- Your photo -- a studio portrait, not an amateur snapshot (unless it is elsewhere in the book)
- Name of publishing company, with city, state and web URL
- (Optional) list price for your country and possibly other countries.
Your back cover needs as much attention as your front cover -- in writing, editing, design and formatting. The back cover shown above has many problems:
- The first two ‘sentences’ are not really sentences.
- The second ‘sentence’ has three unnecessary apostrophes.
- The last sentence (not shown here) has one unnecessary apostrophe.
- The third sentence has an unnecessary comma -- and probably should be several sentences.
- The text has full justification, but lacks hyphens, so there are horrible gaps between words.
- The writing also has problems. In the last sentence in the second paragraph, “poses” is probably not the best word to use. In the last paragraph, Malik is described as “conscious.” The proper word is probably “conscientious.” Where was the editor?
If your ebook is a version of a pbook, you can simply post an image of its cover (modified, if appropriate). If there is no pbook, you have a 'blank slate' -- so take advantage of it. Make your fake back cover a real sales tool. Keep in mind that since the fake back cover doesn't have to be attached to a real book, you can make it any shape you want. (Don't abuse your power.)