No, this post is not about people's bums. I'm talking about the back covers of books. I just read an interesting blog post by a book reviewer that talks about his preferences of what is found on the back cover of books:
"The method I endorse...is judicious quotation from the book itself. Not the first paragraph, because everyone can flick to that easily enough themselves. Just a really good, representative section - say, the beginning of a passage the author would read at an event - or a single brilliant line."
I agree that this method has a lot of value--it gives a sense of the prose, and if chosen well, it can also give a sense of the plot.
I also like when there is a synopsis that is clearly written to mirror the prose of the book. This works especially well for short story collections, since there is no one plot to talk about. For books of poems, I like to read a short description of the poet's style (ie, what topics she writes about, whether she relies heavily on one type of structure or another) and then to get an excerpt or short poem.
I wonder, how much say does an author get about the backside? Can she write the copy herself? What better way to make sure it is a good representation of the style found in the book itself... Any published authors out there, I'd love to hear about your experience with backsides.