I hate spoilers. I know people who read the last page or last chapter of a book first, just so they can be sure they’ll be happy with the ending. No way, uh uh. I don’t even read the back cover copy (aka BCC)/description most of the time.
I know, I know. If a book cover catches your eye, what’s the next thing you do? If you’re like most people, you turn it over to read the back (or the description at your online retailer of choice). And that’s what you’re supposed to do. Authors and marketing departments spend a lot of time carefully crafting those words to
suck you in entice you to buy the book. We want you to decide you can’t possibly walk away without it. You have to know what happens, how they survive, how they triumph.
But here’s the problem for me. The BCC often gives away the early major plot points or twists, thus, in my opinion, eliminating that element of surprise for a good chunk of the story. I am not okay with that. I like to be delighted by the unexpected novelty of each twist and turn, not flipping the pages—possibly skimming—just to get to the part where I don’t know what comes next.
I’m sure it’s a personal flaw.
I’m reading a book right now, and I finally decided to check out the BCC now that I’m at the two-thirds mark. I’m so glad I waited. Whoever wrote the description took us more than halfway through the book!
My rule of thumb is not to reveal beyond the first major turning point, the one that launches the main character on his or her true journey. Just enough to show what the characters want, maybe a little about why, and what’s standing in their way (yes, GMC). Beyond that I’m trying to convey the genre, the level of heat, and the type of romantic suspense I write (military-themed, as opposed to FBI or serial killers or PIs).
So how do I choose books if I won’t read the description? Well, if it’s an author I don’t know and I don’t have a recommendation from a friend, I start with the cover like everyone else. Most of them are geared to tell you exactly what to expect from the book. Half-naked guy with a gun (guilty), expect romantic suspense with some open-door sexy times. The guy is wearing camo pants? Military themed. He’s wearing a holster? Law enforcement. He’s wearing a SWAT vest? Um, obvious, I hope.
Okay, once I know it’s the right genre—assuming the cover fits—I might hastily skim the BCC looking for keywords while trying to avoid specifics. Like humming so you can’t make out the important parts while someone talks about the latest episode of your favorite show that’s still sitting unwatched on your DVR .
If I knew I could trust copy writers not to give it all away, I’d probably read their work more. But I’ve been burned too many times. I’ve learned my lesson.
Of course, I hope you’ll read my BCC. I worked hard on it, and I hope it works on you. 😉
Are you a last-chapter reader, a hope-for-the-best reader, or somewhere in between?