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Why Every Author Should Know How to Write a Book Jacket Cover

The saddest truth in book sales is that even the greatest story on the shelf can’t sell itself without solid packaging. Book marketing is a big business, and most publishing companies have staff devoted to book design above and beyond the editorial team, including graphic designers, cover artists, and copywriters.

Typically, a copywriter will create the text that appears on the paperback cover or book jacket. A copywriter may either be on the staff at the publishing house, or the publisher may contract out, or outsource, to freelance copywriters. Either way, it’s the job of the copywriter to craft a paragraph or two about your book that will sell it to readers.

Otherwise, and this too occurs more often within larger publishing houses, an overworked and underpaid editorial assistant may be tasked with crafting your book jacket copy. This is often viewed as an onerous task and is obviously less than ideal; while editors (and editorial assistants) are useful in helping to shape and enhance your story, they may not have the necessary ‘sales writing’ skills to entice the reader to purchase your book on the shelf.

So, while most of the time you may not be writing your own book jacket copy, it’s still important for any writer to be able to do so. Here’s why:

1. It allows you the opportunity to succinctly summarize your book and revisit the story – it’s like going through a copy edit of the plot.

2. It allows you to make sure you’ve been writing towards your target audience, OR it can help you to determine the target audience for your book.

3. If you’re sending query letters out to publishers with the intention of selling your manuscript, you’ll have to write a paragraph to pitch your idea anyway.

Finally, once your dream publisher has picked up your book, you’ll be able to ensure that the copy your book jacket receives is the copy it deserves. Come back next week and I’ll discuss tips on how to craft top-notch book jacket copy that will have readers grabbing your books off the shelves.

Keep in mind that while you may try to design and format your book jacket cover on your own, there are professional editors who will do it for you. A professional book editor will create a professionally written book jacket cover that will capture your audience’s attention. This is succinct copy that sends a strong message about your writing.

Heather Todd is full-time professional editor, published writer & marketing consultant whose passion is to help others create a letter-perfect presentation in their writing. Ms. Todd provides advisory & consulting services worldwide to numerous corporations, a small sampling of such businesses include: