It’s the Jacket Copy!!


If I could give up one thing about being an independent author, it would be writing the jacket copy or the blurb on the back cover of the book (or on the Amazon page).  I despise this with every ounce of my being.  It will keep me up at night, searching for words, themes, and bullshit to convince people to buy my books.

I admire those indies that write amazing jacket copies.  I’ve even bought a few where the jacket copy was amazing but the book was not.  I’ll give an example to illustrate.

I once read the back of a book that said it was a psychological thriller.  A woman was tracking down her parents killers.  I grabbed the sample and read it.  I then shelled out $7.99 for the book.  Holy shit.  No where in the sample chapters or in the jacket copy did it mention the sexy detective that was going to help her track down what turned out to be a serial killer.  Nor did I know that the main character was going to end up spending half the book in bed with said detective, where between incredibly graphic sex scenes, they would have an “ah ha moment,” scramble to get dressed, track down the lead, and then end right back up in bed again.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy the book.  I had the plot figured out before I had gotten 1/3 of the book finished (detective’s partner) and I have no use for steamy love scenes with moaning and sweating.  I made it half way through, skipped to to the last chapter, discovered I was right about the partner and closed that book forever.

However, tonight I discovered something completely different.  Tonight, I was reading the description of a book and the first line was “Americans are the most hunted people on the planet.”  I thought it was a horror novel and I was right, so this first line intrigued me.  I’ve learned my lesson and now grab samples of most books.  As I read the table of contents, I realized the book was not what I was expecting… There was an important letter missing.  The line should have said “Americans are the most haunted…”

Well, that changes everything.  I was expecting a little horror thriller about killers, dead bodies, blood, gore, and motivations… Instead, I was looking at a list of well known “hauntings” in America.  I scanned the list, realized I had already read all of them in other books and didn’t purchase a copy.

Here’s the thing… The jacket copy is roughly 200 words or less.  It should not contain spelling errors, especially spelling errors that completely change the premise of the book.  The jacket copy is the only part of the book editing process that can be done by friends and family or critique groups or strangers on the corner (will work for food… here, read this and tell me what you think, I’m going to run to McDonald’s, what would you like?).  I don’t actually recommend this last one, but it would be an interesting social experiment.  Shelving it in the back of my mind for later.

I’m fine with a handful or so of spelling and even more grammatical errors in a book.  But as writers, we should work a little harder to get the jacket copy perfect.  After all, that’s a major selling point.

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  1. This! This is so true! and as a person who purchases quite a few books a week – it sends me up a wall – if there are misspellings on the jacket copy – I won’t buy the book. Lately i’ve been reading an indie – no not yours (You know I love them) who has so many spelling and grammar errors that it’s annoying as all get out but unfortunately her books are also like crack and I can’t help myself because i love the characters – I just seriously wish that she would either hire an independent editor or let a group of her biggest fans do proofreading

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