Even the greatest story on the shelf in a bookstore can’t sell itself without eye-catching packaging. It’s one of the saddest truth’s in book sales. Book marketing is a growing business, and most publishers 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. This provides you with the chance to concisely sum up your manuscript and re-examine 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 hopes of selling your manuscript, you’ll essentially 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. An experienced 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.