Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: A chance of rain–we hope!
If you’ve been following along with us over the past few weeks, you should have a one-line bio and a three-hundred word masterpiece that sums up who you are and what you write. I continue to be astounded by the quality of work I’m seeing in those who have offered their bios for us to read on the site.
As we move to a different and yet related topic, I encourage you to keep sending those in. Feel free to comment on the ones submitted. Tell us what you like, what catches your attention, and what you think could be done differently. Let’s exchange ideas because it helps us all.
Let’s assume you’ve done both the short and longer version of your bio. These are building blocks for a bigger bio that you’ll need before your book releases. This larger bio goes by a number of names, but for our purposes we’ll call it the Author Questionnaire. Depending on the publisher, this questionnaire can be a few pages, a dozen pages or more. You might be tempted to hurry through the document and give answers that are not well thought out. Don’t. This is the document your publisher will use to create not only your marketing plan but also your cover art and your back cover copy.
Let’s start with the back cover copy. Writing it is a skill that not all of us have. For some, summing up a plot or a book’s theme in a paragraph or two seems impossible. I submit it is not only possible, but also quite doable. You must approach this in the same way as your 300-word bio. In fact, aim for 300 words on your back cover copy. One formula I’ve seen work time after time is to start with a general sentence that describes your story line or book’s theme and end with a question such as “When Hilary Heroine meets Hank Hero, their ship is about to sail off for foreign lands and great adventure. Can Hilary Heroine find love with Hank Hero, or will their lives be dashed on the rocks like the ship meant to take them away?” For nonfiction, you’ll want to hone in on a sentence that states the book’s major benefit for the reader.
Of course, you’ll want to add a few lines of plot description to take your reader from point A to point B, but no more than three or four sentence. And for nonfiction, you’ll want to expand on the book’s theme with three or four sentences.
The best way to practice is to read back cover copy on books similar to yours and see how you can adapt your book’s plot or theme to fit the structure.
This is an especially good exercise for authors who are still hoping to sell their books. Nothing pleases an editor or agent more than an author who can sum up a book in a clear but brief manner.
This week my challenge to you is read a number of titles’ back cover copy, then report to us what you’ve found that works. For the bravest among us, create your own cover copy and send it in for us to read.
Next week we will talk more about the elements of an author questionnaire. Meanwhile, get busy on back cover copy. I’m excited to see what you come up with!