Jacket copy

L.T. Host asked me in the previous post about the jacket copy, which is the description you read on the inside flap of a book.

The jacket copy...oh dear Gods...the jacket copy. You are looking at 200 words that took me a week to write.

The jacket copy is just about the last thing that gets written when a book is being produced. There's no relationship between the jacket copy and the contents of the query I submitted two years ago, except in so far as I wrote both, and they're about the same book, so there's a natural tendency to duplicate any turn of phrase that works well.

The jacket copy might be written by either the editor or the author. In my case Editor Kathleen asked if I'd like to give it a go, and she asked for 200 words.

So I wrote 200 words. Or rather, I wrote a zillion different versions of 200 words, because when the words you choose will be used by people in bookstores to decide whether or not to buy your book, you tend to become a trifle obsessive.

But this was nothing compared to the agony of writing the bio. Yes, I know it's only a smattering of words, but there is something indelibly narcissistic about describing yourself for a book cover. Also, it's a challenge to sound interesting and fun and good at killing people (in theory).



19 comments:

Lexi said...

So I rushed to Amazon to read the jacket copy, and you haven't got Search Inside the Book! Are you going to?

Gary Corby said...

Hi Lexi, it's there, but Amazon folds up the Editorial Reviews, which section includes information that has nothing to do with editorial reviews. Don't ask me why.

If you click "See all Editorial Reviews" you'll find a section called "From the Inside Flap". There's also an "About the Author" which is the dreaded bio. The "Product Description" also on that page is straight out of the Minotaur catalog, which was written by someone at the publisher but copies some of my text. The catalog copy is what's appearing on most other book sites. (WH Smith has begun taking orders!)

To make it simple, this page takes you to the full editorial review section at Amazon.

Carrie said...

Your jacket copy is quite good Gary! What a mouthful to cram into 200 words eh? Well done.

Lexi said...

Very good. That would persuade me to buy it, if I wasn't planning to anyway :o)

Gary Corby said...

Thanks Ladies, you're very kind.

The 200 started to look easy when I had to shrink it later to under 100 for a postcard, but that's a story for another post.

C. N. Nevets said...

The bio came out well, but I'm sure you were uncomfortable working on that.

The jacket copy, my friend, is stellar. Excellent job with that. Very snappy and colorful.

Can't wait to put my pre-order in next Friday!

Ricky Bush said...

Oh,yes. You have hit the nail on its cliched head. I struggled mightly when asked for a back cover blurb, a teaser and then THE bio. My writing can flow along smoothly when I get into a groove on a novel, but I stumbled and fumbled along witht these short snippet.

T. Anne said...

LOL! Isn't that the truth? i'd rather write anything other than a synopsis, pitch, one line tag of my story. Is there a service out there somewhere that would do these terrible deeds for me?? ;) Can't wait for your book!

Elizabeth said...

And here I innocently assumed that some editor's minion wrote that stuff.

You did a great job, but ack, that sounds scary!

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Well done!

Gary Corby said...

Wow, Nevets. That's a huge endorsement. Thanks!

Gary Corby said...

Elizabeth, sometimes the editor does do the jacket. And a minion did the catalog copy (though I confess I don't know who). After I wrote this, Kathleen checked it over, so it's not like I'm free to do just anything. After I sent it in, Kathleen cleaned up bits and pieces and did the arrangement for the actual jacket, which means deciding exactly what goes where.

Gary Corby said...

Thanks Vicky! Did you write yours?

For those unaware, Vicky's second book released the other week! This one's a YA about Cleopatra.

Gary Corby said...

Ricky, yep, then you know how tricky it feels...

Gary Corby said...

Anne, the one true genius I've discovered for short synopses is Bill Cameron, of Chasing Smoke, Lost Dog and Day One fame. He just whips them off. I don't know how he does it.

Jude said...

I bet you picked the perfect 200 words. Can't wait to see it:)

Gary Corby said...

Hey Jude,

That would be excessively optimistic, but it's okay.

Every time I look at the final, the flaws stare back at me. This seems to be the fate of a writer; nothing's ever perfect.

Check the full editorial reviews on Amazon or easier still the "Pericles Commission" tab at the top of this page to see it.

L. T. Host said...

Thanks for this :) I've been wondering because the jacket copy sounded like it would have made a killer query, and I've heard that sometimes they will use pieces of the query letter. But since you wrote both it goes to show that you landed a great agent/ editor, AND you'll have lots of people buy your book. :)

I've always, always, always hated writing bios or blurbs about myself. With the passion of a thousand fiery suns.

Gary Corby said...

As it happens, I didn't re-use anything from the query. My "best" book description has evolved considerably over time. I constantly do minor fiddles, replacing one phrase with a slightly different one to see what works. You'll notice though the basic description I wrote to lead this blog has stood the test of time and found its way into the jacket copy.