If you don’t work in publishing, there are many mysteries about how books are made. Who picks the cover? Who decides on chapter titles? Who writes the stuff on the back of the book?
Here at Stone Arch Books, and at most publishing companies, the editor of each book writes its cover copy (the words on the back). It seems like a pretty easy job, but it’s actually harder than it sounds. It’s difficult to condense an entire book down to 50 – 100 words (that’s how long our back cover copy is here). The cover copy can’t give away what happens in a book, but it has to be exciting enough to make readers want to pick it up. It can’t tell too much, but it can’t tell too little, either! We are working on the cover copy for our Fall 2008 list now.
You can use cover copy for a fun project for a classroom, library, or book group. Ask each student to read a book (or even a chapter of a book). Then, without reading the book’s cover copy, ask them to write their own. Compare the student’s cover copy to the book’s. What are their differences? What are their similarities? Which one most makes the student want to read the book?