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I probably could have written two chapters in the time it took me to finalize what I wanted on the back cover of The Dead of Summer. I devoured posts about creating sell copy, tips for what to include and what not to include, and groaned at a “how to” blog that said what you put on the back is more important than the novel itself. Back cover copy can entice others to read your book.

I’m not good at writing promotional copy. Never was good at it, but I have friends who do a great job. So I strung together some sentences and sent it to Donald J. Bingle, Chris Verstraete, Stephen D. Sullivan, and Beth Terrell. They are all writers, and I’m thankful they were willing to help.

Spending the two cents they each gave me, I came up with one hundred and ninety-five words that I just sent off to my wonderful artist to put on the back of The Dead of Summer. I learned a few things … you’d think after all these books I would have learned them earlier, eh? … that I will share with you.

  1. Mention the main character, or maybe two.
  2. Hit a high point of the story without giving anything significant away. No spoilers.
  3. Use language that would lure someone to buy the book.
  4. Add a couple of “blurbs” or recommendations from people who have read an advance copy of the book.
  5. KISS it … Keep It Short, Sister.

You have two hundred words or less to work with, including the review blurbs. Otherwise the back of the book is too crowded and the type would be too small.

I’ll add a sixth point: whatever you write, send it to a few friends and ask them to fix it for you. I have awesome friends.

During the course of this exercise I also read the back cover copy of a lot of the books on my shelves … to see what I liked, didn’t like, and discovered some unread books that I better get to soon because the back cover copy really enticed me (and it was probably why I bought those books). I have more books in my house than I will read in what is left of my lifetime. And, yet, I will buy more … influenced no doubt by someone’s excellent back cover copy.

The Dead of Summer will be released toward the end of July. I’m excited.

Back cover … hope it entices you:

Shouts of delight turn to screams of terror when a carnival ride goes berserk at the Spencer County Fair. Sheriff Piper Blackwell must contain the chaos and investigate the possible sabotage, even as she tries to solve a local businessman’s horrific murder. 

But managing two investigations with at least one killer on the loose pushes the young officer and her tiny staff to their limits. Can Piper catch the murderer, or will the summer’s body count continue to rise?

Just when you think you’ve read the best from author Jean Rabe, she throws the thrill ride of a lifetime into her latest mystery. The Dead of Summer starts with a bang, a scrunch, a twist, and screams…lots and lots of screams. The book hooks you from the start.

—Mary Cunningham, author of Andi Anna Jones Mysteries

Jean Rabe immerses you in the sights, sounds, and smells of summer in rural Indiana, as she subtly weaves characters, clues, departmental interactions, and high-speed action into a satisfying criminal confection worthy of a blue ribbon as Best Summer Mystery. Not quite a cozy, but a helluva whodunnit.

Donald J. Bingle, author of the Dick Thornby Spy Thriller series