Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Flap Copy Contest!

So I am in the very, very last stages of my book -- rewriting my Voice talk, because I wasn't satisfied with it; and then I need to decide which terms will be capped or uncapped (Action Plot vs. action plot, that sort of thing), because I currently have more capped nouns than a Dungeons & Dragons manual, and make that consistent across the board. But that is it for the interior!

And then, for the exterior, I need to write the flap copy. And while of course I write flap copy for other people's books all the time, writing it for my own is proving unexpectedly daunting. Generally in writing it for other people's books, I try to identify my ideal reader -- the person who is most likely to pick up the book, and who would get the most enjoyment out of it; then set forth an overall vision of the book that would appeal to that ideal reader, working in as many cool things about the characters and plot as possible. And while I think that you all are pretty much my ideal readers here, I also feel I'm either too close to the material or too damn Midwestern modest to objectively see and sell all the possibly cool things about this book.

Then I thought: Hey! Maybe my ideal readers would like a chance to play the editor here. I know writers often get a kick out of their chance to edit me in commenting on the flap copy I wrote for their books (or the trial flaps I've posted here); this seems like the next logical step, and also good practice for any aspiring editors out there. :-)

So: CONTEST! If you want to participate, all of the information you'd need to know about the book is below. Write back-jacket sales copy of 200 words or less, and e-mail your draft to me at chavela_que at yahoo dot com by noon next Thursday, July 22, with the subject line "Flap Copy Contest." (I will be away from all computers from Saturday till the deadline, more or less, so this gives you plenty of time.) An editorial friend and I will read through the entries and choose up to three winners, who will each receive a free copy of the book.

I will then probably go ahead and assemble my own flap copy, pulling from all of the various great ideas that come in; and indeed, I reserve the right to borrow, steal, or tweak anything in any of your entries. I suppose in legal parlance, this would be, "All entries become property of Cheryl Klein for purposes of writing her own copy," meaning you can't sue me if I use your words or ideas. But I will also acknowledge said useful writers within the book and here. And I wouldn't claim this copy exclusively; goodness knows if you want to do something else with your draft or publish or reuse it for yourself, have at it.

Some questions to ask yourself if you want to try this:

  • What are some cool things about this book -- its hooks?
  • Are there any key details or lines from the book that might grab a reader's attention?
  • Why would I buy this book?
  • Who else would want to buy this book?
  • Are there any successful similar books I'd want to liken this book to or remind the reader of? (And often its followup, What was the approach of their flap copy? -- at least for reference, or to see what elements were emphasized.)
  • What are three key unifying ideas about this book, or three different visions of the book? (This "Three Takes on Operation Yes" post shows three of my visions for that book, and how each one played out in the flap.)
  • Which one of those ideas/visions would be most attractive to the readers I just identified?
(All of these questions also very useful in writing query letters, of course . . .)

I hope this sounds like fun to y'all -- I'm very curious to see what you come up with! Thank you so much for participating.


The title: Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults

The original description.

The Table of Contents (much of this material is online, except the Quartet talks, which comprise 50-plus pages of never-before-published-anywhere thoughts. "Manifests" are worksheets/checklists.):
  • An Explanation of This Book
  • Manifesto: What Makes A Good Book?
  • Defining Good Writing (Possibly Sententious)
  • Finding a Publisher and Falling in Love: A Convivial Comparison
  • The Annotated Query Letter from Hell
  • An Annotated Query Letter That Does It Right
  • The Rules of Engagement
  • The Essentials of Plot
  • Manifest: The Plot Checklist
  • Morals, Muddles, and Making It Through; or, Plots and Popularity
  • Manifest: A Character Chart
  • A Definition of YA Literature
  • The Art of Detection: One Editor’s Techniques for Analyzing and Revising Your Novel
  • Four Techniques to Get at the Emotional Heart of Your Story
  • Words, Wisdom, Art, and Heart: Making a Picture-Book Cookie
  • Some Things I Like to See in an Illustrator’s Portfolio
  • A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter
  • Gaaah!!—A Musing on Characters and Plot
  • Quartet: Introduction
  • Point
  • Character
  • Manifest: Another Character Chart
  • Plot
  • Voice
  • The Highly Idiosyncratic Cheryl Klein Guide to Punctuation
  • On the Editor-Author Relationship
  • Twenty-Five Revision Techniques
  • Index to Talks by Writers’ Conference
  • Index by Subject
  • Further Reading: Craft
  • Further Reading: Literature
  • Acknowledgements and Thanks
My biography, which will also appear on the back of the book (may be cut down for space): Cheryl B. Klein has worked as an editor of children’s and young adult books for over a decade. Among the books she has edited or co-edited are A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce, winner of the inaugural William C. Morris Award for a YA Debut Novel; Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens; Millicent Min, Girl Genius, by Lisa Yee, winner of the SCBWI’s Sid Fleischman Award for Humor; and The Snow Day by Komako Sakai, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book. She also served as the continuity editor for the American editions of the last three Harry Potter books. Please visit her website at


  1. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

    I want to back away but it is like a MOTH TO THE FLAME.

    I'm going to go obsess over this for three days, write seventeen drafts, rend my garments and put ashes in my hair, and then probably not email anything to you at all.

    Such is life.

  2. Only a few writers understand publishing--the business that they hope will publish their work. Fewer still understand how editors--who work for the publishers--think.

    This book by Cheryl Klein presents an opportunity to overcome that gap in understanding, by learning how one experienced professional editor thinks... and what she thinks about what other editors think as well.

    Short of a short-course in telepathy, this book is as close as a writer can get to overcoming ignorance and, possibly, succeeding in making one's writing as appealing to any editor as possible.

  3. This is very off-topic, but I recently heard about the gassing of 400 geese in Prospect Park and I thought of you because you've mentioned the park in your posts. The story truly saddens me... I think there are more humane methods of controlling the geese population.

    There's actually a recent story published in The Brooklyn paper that some geese are returning: I hope the geese will always keep coming back!

    Anyway, hope it was okay to share... I'm writing from way across the country but since you've been to the park and live in Brooklyn it must be so much more real to you.

    ~Carmen in Canada

  4. I'm not going to try to write the flap copy. Sorry. I know you'll do great. But I just wanted to say how excited I am that your book is almost done and that you're doing it. From the table of contents, it looks so awesome. It's really going to be great to have a book geared to authors who write for kids. Can't wait till you announce it'll be coming out.

  5. I like your post from your heart, very interesting and Informative
    Monica Sharma

    Click Online Document Conversion and capture Text from your bills, invoices, letters, forms, statements, notices, books, journals, magazines, image or PDF Documents on internet and edit into your system directly.

  6. yeah truly a great site.I really enjoyed my visit.