Designing My Own Book Jacket

Me (top row); Bio, cover art, jacket copy (bottom row)

One of the exercises that we did this past weekend at the Missouri SCBWI Pal’s Retreat was to design our own book jacket.  Led by Stephanie Bearce, this project not only tested my artistic skills, it made me mull over what is central to my story.

Stephanie challenged us to noodle over the cover, but also to write up the jacket copy and our own bio.  She made us work with markers.

I’ll admit — when it came time to draw my rat, I pulled a pencil out of my purse.  I roughed out the rat and then went over it with marker.

I roughed my jacket copy out on scrap paper.  But then I had to write it out on the jacket and I went with the program.  Even a brand new Crayola fine line marker makes your letters pretty chunky.   I had to keep my text tight and precise.  I had to work in my protagonist, his goals and the antagonist.  And I had to do it in a way that made his goals seem important.  As I wrote paragraph after paragraph justifying his goals, I realized that it simply wouldn’t fit onto a book jacket.  I could simplify it, but if I did that it wouldn’t be true to the story . . .

Wait a minute!  Why not?  I could always change the story because the new justification really was significantly more impressive than the old.  Yep.  Another change.  It means aging my main character by another year but it will also make his goal that much more important.

Try writing up your jacket copy.  You may be surprised by the changes it necessitates in your story.