word craft


Making a flap

flap copy

When a book is pub­lished one of the very last bits of writ­ing com­posed is the flap copy, that col­umn of text descrip­tion that is part of the inside fold­ed dust jack­et and informs a poten­tial read­er (buy­er?) as to what the book is about. After observ­ing the title of the book this may be the first read­ing of the book that takes place. 

Is it mar­ket­ing? Pub­lic­i­ty? An invi­ta­tion to read fur­ther? Per­haps, all of those things. 

Also, if young read­ers read the flap (I’m not sure they always do) one wants to make it par­tic­u­lar­ly enticing. 

My dic­tio­nary (the OUD) doesn’t even have a def­i­n­i­tion of flap copy, the clos­est being flap, “Any­thing that hangs broad and loose, fas­tened only by one side.” That fits, sort of. Nor is there a descrip­tion, much less a def­i­n­i­tion, of “Flap Copy” in my Oxford Dic­tio­nary of Lit­er­ary Terms. 

But I’ve nev­er had a book pub­lished with­out flap copy. 

The cre­ation and evo­lu­tion of dust jack­ets are in itself inter­est­ing. You can read its his­to­ry at  https://blog.bookstellyouwhy.com/a‑brief-history-of-the-dust-jacket.

But it’s the dust jack­et copy I’m inter­est­ed in here. My expe­ri­ence is as fol­lows. My edi­tor writes a draft of this copy and then sends it to me. (A few times I have writ­ten the first draft). I sup­pose that could be the end of its evo­lu­tion, but when I’ve been sent the copy I always do some (some­times a lot) of rewrit­ing. I send it back to my edi­tor. The copy may go back and forth a few times until we agree we have a good text. 

There is also back copy text. 

Oh, yes, also a brief bio­graph­i­cal note about the author. Some­times a head­shot of the author. 

(Ques­tion: Does the way the author looks influ­ence your deci­sion to read more? Children’s book authors pic­tures more often than not show smiles. Not so adult books.) 

All this comes to mind because flap copy has just been cre­at­ed for a  forth­com­ing book to be pub­lished (I think) a year from now. Issued by Clar­i­on Books, and titled The Secret Sis­ters, it is a sequel to my The Secret School, which was pub­lished (in book form) in 2001.  

(That book was ini­tial­ly writ­ten and seri­al­ized in news­pa­pers, as part of Break­fast Seri­als. It was illus­trat­ed by Bri­an Flo­ca.)  

In any case here is the (cur­rent) flap copy for The Secret Sis­ters:

Going to high school in Steam­boat Springs is Ida Bidson’s dream—it’s her next step toward becom­ing a teacher and her best shot at escap­ing a life of milk­ing cows. Com­pared to her family’s Rocky Moun­tain sheep ranch, 1925 Steam­boat is the mod­ern world. Ida is thrilled by every­thing new: movies, tele­phones, even the popular—and so-called wild—dance, the Charleston. Best of all, she befriends girls her age for the first time and forms a club, the Secret Sisters. 

 But new expe­ri­ences come with new chal­lenges. The lady Ida boards with dis­ap­proves of her new friends. Steamboat’s three-sto­ry school dif­fers vast­ly from Ida’s pre­vi­ous one-room school­house, with new teach­ers, new reg­u­la­tions, and dif­fi­cult new sub­jects to learn. Above all, the school’s strict prin­ci­pal oppos­es every­thing modern—including the Secret Sis­ters. When he threat­ens the Sis­ters’ favorite teacher and tar­gets Ida for dis­ci­pline, it looks like Ida’s high school career may be over before it even begins. Can the Secret Sis­ters find a way to upend his old-fash­ioned notions about mod­ern stu­dents and save Ida’s dream? 

New­bery Medal­ist Avi art­ful­ly tells the sto­ry of a young girl deter­mined to define her own place amidst old rules and new ways in the Roar­ing Twenties. 

 There you are. Does that make you want to read the book? 

5 thoughts on “Making a flap”

  1. Hi Avi, I’m so excit­ed and hap­py you are work­ing on a sequel to The Secret School. I can’t wait to read it, as I so much loved read­ing it. This is also a cool blog post about mak­ing flaps for books. This is very inter­est­ing and infor­ma­tive. Any books that you author, always makes me want to read the book for sure! 🙂 Keep them coming.

    Best regards,

    Sharon O. Blumberg

  2. Absolute­ly! And my great grandaugh­ter, who is in mid­dle school! I “use” you to make his­to­ry alive for my great grandchildren!

  3. Yes!! I always enjoy read­ing your blog entries, Avi not to men­tion your won­der­ful books!! Actu­al­ly going to read The Secret School soon!!! I love that you pack in info, his­to­ry of yours or oth­ers, links, news and help­ful infor­ma­tion for writ­ers, teach­ers, kids etc to get a feel for what a writer does. And I like a nice pho­to of the author. I like a warm ver­sion of the per­son smil­ing or not. I guess adult books want a lit­tle grav­i­tas, but a nice smile is not a bad thing, but the mar­ket­ing folks have the skin­ny on that I am sure.


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