You should be able to describe your book in 15 seconds or less. This ensures that you retain the attention of your audience whether they be publisher, fellow author, friend, movie director, or journalist. The elevator pitch of your book should provide a concise summary without giving too much away, but also be interesting enough that your audience wants to explore more. If your book is too complicated to explain within the 15 second time frame, it is likely going to be confusing and difficult to read as well. Many people today have a short attention span and demand instant gratification. Keep this concept in mind when writing the book description that will go on your cover.
In the Cornell University Press Blog, Martyn Beeny says, “If you can’t tell people what the book is about in under 250 words, something isn’t right. It’s your elevator pitch for the book; don’t bore people to death before you sell them the book.”
Martyn says that the typical consumer will look at a book cover first and if they are interested, they will then pick it up to look at the back followed by the inside flap. This observation can help you decide what to put where. While layout and placement are important, so is the ability for your potential customer to quickly digest the key information about your book. Martyn mentions that a book cover shouldn’t be overloaded with text. “Don’t crowd the cover. Allow the words you write to breathe and have space to shine……If we’ve staked out our key piece of land and covered it top to bottom with a jumbled mass of words, we’ve just lost the ability to deliver our message in a convenient, easy-to-digest manner.”
I like to think of the old adage, “it’s not quantity that counts, its quality.” For example, you shouldn’t put every single positive quote or review about your book on the cover. Its not about how many quotes you have. Its about the best ones…the right ones. The ones that will showcase your book in the best light possible.
Your cover is a prime and powerful piece of real estate as Mr. Beeny would say. Use it wisely and display it beautifully.