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.
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?