I’ve been working on my back cover copy for Shadow Queene, and thought I would share a few tips with you.
Writing back cover copy (or flap copy or jacket copy) has a lot to do with keywords and less to do with specifics. The best back cover copy draws you in and gets you hooked — leaves you wanting more.
A formula I see a lot is:
Sentence 1: Hook
Sentence 2: A little about character and plot
Sentence 3: Big problem or question
Sentence 4: Boom!
The beginning needs to bring us in. The second sentence gets us interested. The third sentence gets us concerned, curious, and wondering. The final sentence leaves us with a KAPOW feeling. Like, I really want to buy this book.
From the shelf next to me:
First line from Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic.
- We are immediately drawn in. What happened to the magic? Where did it go?
- We also get the setting and the main character immediately.
Last line from Susan Hill Long’s The Magic Mirror: In this twisty-turny tale of mistaken identities, missed connections, and loves lost and found, the wanderers and more will meet Maggie on her journey to heal herself…and her kingdom.
- She’s got everything you need to know about the book in that final line.
- She leaves you wanting more, and lands with a Boom!
Clearly, this copy can also spread over more than 4 sentences, but the idea is the same. Bring them in, get them wondering, and get them excited.
Here are a few articles that say it more eloquently than me. Take a look, and then do some research of your own to see how authors and publishers are writing jacket copy. Interesting note, a lot of times, that copy actually comes directly from your query letter!