Monday, May 18, 2009


So some of you are thinking....I don't need to read this post, I'm a writer and writers don't write jacket copy. Editors do. Well back HERE I posted the similarities of jacket copy writing and query writing. Today, Moonrat tweeted about a new study from PUBLISHING TRENDS and CODEX GROUP that puts jacket copy as the "second most important book purchase factor (after favorite author)." The ARTICLE goes on to say,

Flap copy is especially important for fiction. And title and cover impact are closely related to the impact of jacket copy. If the flap copy defies the expectation created by the cover and title—if, for instance, the cover of the book leads the reader to expect a thriller but the flap copy identifies it as horror—readers are less likely to buy it.

The lede is the most important element of the jacket copy. “We make sure that we’re absolutely clear about our lede, what makes the book special, and we announce that as clearly and concisely as possible right at the top,” says Hoffman [Executive Editor at Grand Central Publishing.] “With so many books screaming for readers’ attention, you might only have that first few seconds to make an impact, so you have to identify what makes a book special early on. Readers might not make it to the second paragraph of your gorgeously crafted copy. It’s something every journalist knows, that’s worth our keeping in mind.”

Survey respondents ranked other common elements of jacket copy as less important. Only 13% of literary fiction readers are most influenced by praise from the New York Times, for instance, and they care even less about praise from publishing industry magazines like Publishers Weekly (10%).

This article is available for free for a limited time so please click on over and absorb the info.

So again... what does that have to do with you, the writer? Well, what if your query is so kick-ass, so enticing, inclusive of all that your book promises yet leaves the reader begging for more? You'll probably get a lot of agent and/or editor interest in reading your full. And perhaps a phrase or two will make it into your all important jacket copy.

But, why you need to read this post and click on over to the article is because I am a believer in being informed. If jacket copy is the #2 reason why readers will buy my book, I want to know that. I want to understand what influences buyers and then use that knowledge to best market mine and my clients' manuscripts and published books. For example, published your jacket copy on the home page of your website? Somewhere on your facebook and myspace pages? If a librarian, bookseller or book buyer asks you about your book, do you have a 'conversational' version of that jacket copy ready at any moment?

Your editor wrote your jacket copy. She gave you and your book a gift. A sales handle. Now writers, give that sales handle legs and run with it:)


  1. Thnx for the link. I'll check it out!


  2. Thinking about all of this as I sharpen my query....thanks.

  3. I agree 100%! Thanks for the link!

  4. thanks for spreading the word, Jill.

    I make all authors take a crack at drafting their own copy. The reasons are as follows:

    a) it shows me what about their work the author values most
    b) it helps authors refine their short pitch in case they are interviewed etc
    c) it provides a draft for me to use on my end

    I usually don't use what they come up with--it's funny how authors, editors, marketers, and publishers all have different priorities!--but I usually borrow heavily from it.

  5. I had no idea it was ranked #2. Thanks for bringing this up, Jill. And for the tip about including it on your homepage. All sound advice.

  6. I like that the article mentions how cover art and jacket copy should work together. I pick up a book because of the 'mood' the cover art sets. If the jacket copy perpetuates that mood, I'm hooked!
    Great article -- thanks!

  7. Oooh good article, thanks for posting Jill!

  8. So true! Great post. So I guess I need to start working on a kicking query.

  9. Great post! I referenced and linked to it in my blog on 5/19/'s the link:

  10. I just finished reading a wonderful thriller by an author I already knew. I gave the book a positive review on Amazon, but had back-cover copy been a consideration, I would have taken away two stars.

    I know why the book isn't moving: the copy is generic and gives the reader absolutely no clue what the book is about. The copy extols the author's previous work as though the editor hasn't read this one.

    What a shame.



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