Recently, I taught a picture book workshop to my local SCBWI chapter. One of the exercises I had workshop participants do was to create jacket flap copy (JFC). Normally, the marketing and sales department of your publisher handles writing that short blurb that describes your picture book. So why bother? Here are three compelling reasons why writing jacket flap copy can make you a better author.
1. Know Your Content
Have you ever heard of the elevator pitch? It’s that 30 second “commercial” that allows you to describe your product or service in a concise manner. JFC is exactly that. When people pick up your book, they open it up and read the JFC. That brief description will let them know if the content of the book appeals to them.
Writing your jacket flap copy, even as an exercise, will allow you to truly know the content of your picture book and be able to pitch it to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
2. Know Your Hook
A hook is a literary technique in the opening of a story that “hooks” the reader’s attention so that he/she will keep reading. Ideally, the hook will happen within the first sentence or two of the picture book. Do you know the hook of your story?
Your hook will also translate into copy on the jacket flap. Your JFC should hook readers into reading and/or purchasing the book.
3. Know Your Audience
We obviously know that picture books are aimed for 3 to 8-year-olds. However, the reality is that picture books can appeal to a wide audience. Do you know the audience for your picture book? Are you targeting 1 to 2-year-olds, as with a board book? Or are you targeting 8 to 9-year-olds as with a folktale retelling? Perhaps you are targeting boys with a sports or transportation picture book. Whatever your audience, you need to know whom you’re targeting with your story. Writing jacket flap copy can help you target your audience.
Here is some homework. Pick up any picture book. Read the jacket flap copy. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the JFC reveal the content of the book?
- Does the JFC reveal a hook of the story?
- Does the JFC specify the target audience?
What else do you notice about the JFC? Practice writing jacket flap copy for your next picture book project. Develop an “elevator speech” so that you can describe your picture book whenever, wherever.
Writing JFC will help you improve yourself not only has an author but as a bookseller. Ultimately, I think all authors are booksellers. After all who knows a book better than its author? So write that JFC with TLC and then treat yourself to KFC. ☺
Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling,” are full of energetic audience participation. The author of 25 books, Dianne was named the first International Reading Association LEADER Poet Laureate. Her children’s titles include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The Little “Read” Hen, The House That Santa Built, and Cinderellaphant. She is the Fairy Organizer of Once Upon a Storage and has a YouTube channel dedicated to home organization, home décor, and DIY. Dianne is also the proud mom of 15-year-old Kid Chef Eliana, an award-winning cookbook author, radio show host, and celebrity chef.
Dianne is generously giving away a copy of THE HOUSE THAT SANTA BUILT! Perfect for the upcoming holiday season!
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