WRITING BACK COVER COPY with Shelley Ring

Since 2007, Shelley Ring has written back cover and
marketing copy for traditional publishers, as well as for independently
published authors. A former Marketing Coordinator for a Christian publisher, she
holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Colorado Christian University,
where she worked in Public Relations and wrote for the college newspaper. Her
writing vices, never far during creative chaos, include chocolate, iced tea,
and baked kale chips. With a passion for outstanding romantic Christian fiction,
she is the author of Ransomed, a
romantic suspense novel that portrays one woman’s physical and spiritual escape
from human trafficking. Shelley’s novels are available on Amazon in digital and
paperback. She lives in Colorado with her family, including a sweet-tempered
Rottweiler named Mya.
The following article is an excerpt from Shelley’s upcoming
book, How to Write Back Cover Copy that Sells: Every Writer’s Guide to
Creating Successful Marketing Copy
.
Blink, blink,
blink.
I close my eyes, praying something brilliant will
magically appear on the computer screen when I look again. God answers
desperate prayers, right?
Well, not this time.
My eyes open to the blinding white screen staring back at
me. A flashing black cursor mocks my mental block. For several minutes, my
brain draws a frustrating blank. I wrote an entire book, but writing back cover
copy seems an insurmountable task.
Insurmountable until I remember the purpose, structure,
and language of back cover copy. As a novelist, copywriter, and former
publishing Marketing Coordinator, I’ve learned to switch hats from fiction to
marketing.
My direction reset, I take a deep breath, and my fingers
fly over the keyboard.
The Purpose of the
Back Cover
Your back cover exists for two reasons:
1.      
Introduce your story.
2.      
Compel the reader to open the book.
Once he or she delves between the covers, allow your
characters and voice to complete the sale.
The Structure of
Fiction Back Cover Copy
Many fiction writers create a basic foundation of goal,
motivation, and conflict for their novels. The same structure applies to
writing copy for your fiction back cover.
First, introduce your hero/heroine. Provide a snapshot of
the character so we immediately identify with him or her.
Next, bring out your character’s motivation and overall
conflict in one sentence.
Finally, highlight the character’s black moment. Don’t
give the ending away, but show how much the hero or heroine stands to lose.
Intrigue the reader.
The Outline for
Non-fiction Back Cover Copy
Non-fiction books have a different framework, though they
still employ goals, motivations, and conflicts. This style of back cover copy
begins by targeting a person’s felt needs. Ask yourself:

  • What promise do I make the reader?
  • What does he or she want to discover, accomplish, or
    become?
  • Why does my audience desire this, and how does my book
    fulfill that desire?
  • What roadblocks prevent the reader from his or her
    desire, and how does my book help them overcome those obstacles?
The following examples give you an idea of the big
thought or promise in a non-fiction book:
  • A proven strategy for conquering financial distress
  • Write e-books that actually sell
  • An outrageous true account of greed, corruption, and
    deceit

Follow the big idea with a short list of other reader-oriented
benefits:

  • Get out of debt and gain a stress-free life.
  • Discover 10 secrets of highly effective e-book authors.
  • One of the most gripping and bizarre real-life stories
    ever told.

The Language of Back
Cover Copy
As the author, you know your audience better than anyone.
Build a composite reader and address that person.
Sales or information-based non-fiction uses you, your,
we, and our to speak to the reader. Fiction and creative non-fiction apply more
abstract ways. Maximize the danger, the struggle, or the life-and-death
situation with words like true account, incredible,
terrifying, life-changing, outrageous
, or spellbinding.
More tips
In writing the back cover of your book, a few helpful
reminders create the richest set-up:

  • Include 1-2 keywords about your book’s subject or theme.
    Keywords help readers draw a correlation between your back cover copy and blog
    posts, articles, headlines, or ads.
  • Watch your length. Keep the word count in the range of 75-200
    words, depending on the size of your printed product. A length of 125 words
    seems to fit the backs of most printed books, while still allowing space for
    your bio.
  • Reflect the story tone or the voice of the non-fiction
    piece.
  • Be tight. Be specific. Be yourself. Your writer voice
    might be the only truly unique part of your book, so let your style, expertise,
    or personality shine through and make a connection with your reader.
  • Don’t introduce secondary themes or subplots in fiction.
  • Don’t reveal the ending in fiction, and don’t give up
    every secret in non-fiction.
  • Use testimonials, awards, and previous books to build
    credibility and earn trust. Testimonials are most valuable as headlines, while
    awards and other titles fit well at the end of your copywriting.

Following these simple tips empowers every author to
write compelling copy for any book category. No more blinding white screen and
mocking cursors. I can write back cover copy.
So can you.

After a heated argument with her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Siersha vanishes into the afternoon sun. Eight years later, her family still finds no trace of her. Until former Marine and modern-day prophet Micah Stone receives a disturbing vision.

Years ago, Micah knew his future. He would marry Rebecca and live in service to God forever. Her disappearance devastated him. Now haunted by the image of her running through the night, darkness chasing her, Micah hears an edict from the Lord: Save her.

Micah determines to uncover the truth behind Rebecca’s disappearance, but just when victory seems near, they meet evil face to face. This time it will take everything within Micah to obey God.

But exactly who will do the saving?

Marveling at Jesus

Let’s really marvel at Jesus this week.
Let’s marvel at the fact that Jesus changed how the world expresses compassion,
that he shaped education, revolutionized art and changed political theory. In him,
we find hope and the one and only path to God.

For centuries, people lived distinctly
divided lives. Identity remained defined by the group into which each person
was born or married. Then Jesus taught people about God, himself, and the Holy
Spirit that would reside within them after his death, and he gave them a new
way to define themselves. Jesus presented an idea of community that no one had
ever seen. In this community, all manner of people, wealthy or poor, Gentile or
Jew, slave or free, were welcome.
           
Think
of all the dissimilar people that Jesus brought together! People like C.S. Lewis,
Bono, Joel Osteen, Denzel Washington, and Tim Tebow; all of them united
because of one man—Jesus Christ!
           
We
are all one body united in Christ. As sinners and broken people, whether we are
black or white, Asian or German, tall or short, single or married, parents or
children, hip or nerdy, new believers or spiritual authorities, we are one
community. Only one thing matters: Our identity is found in Jesus Christ, and
he lives in all of us. Jesus brought us all together. He gave us hope through
community. Who else could do that?
One of the most predominant principles shared in most westernized
societies is the right of citizens to obtain an education. From about five
years of age until around age eighteen, it is expected that children will
attend school and be taught the knowledge, skills, customs and values necessary
to shape them into productive members of society. This has become such a common
occurrence that it’s pretty much taken for granted. But it wasn’t always so.
           

The life and teachings of Jesus would radically alter the “status quo”
of education being a privilege only for the elite and would shape the
foundation of education. Jesus, the
ultimate Teacher of all time, set the precedence for making no distinction
between fishermen, women, rich, poor, outcasts, young or old. His classroom was
on mountaintops, in boats, synagogues, roadways and private homes. He taught
one-on-one, in small and large groups, both privately and publically. He used
methods that everyone could understand through parables, stories and everyday
life occurrences and examples.

Jesus revealed to us the mysteries of God; of His immeasurable truth,
love, mercy and grace. Through his teachings, Jesus gives us the hope of a
relationship with God and his death on the cross. His burial and resurrection
make that relationship a certainty. 
In Mark 3:17, Jesus taught that we are to
follow the rules laid down by government while still surrendering to God all
that belongs to God…which, of course, is everything else. In his time, Jesus’
statement was an abomination because he pointed out that, while government is
an important element in our lives, there is also another realm, a second and
ultimate authority by which we are governed. The Pharisees realized that, under
this man’s reign, their dominion could be profoundly limited, and they were
having none of it! But even by killing him, they couldn’t change what Jesus had
set into motion.
From that time until now, disciples of Christ have been standing on
these precepts. When it came time for our forefathers to design a governing
document for this new world, they purposefully based it on the teachings of
Jesus Christ: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal, and have been endowed by their Creator with certain rights…”
           
Jesus was also the architect of our global concepts toward human rights
and dignity. He delivered a fresh perspective, and Galatians 3 reported that,
in Christ Jesus, there is no longer a   
distinction between people, and that we are all one our servanthood to
him. In this election year, it’s important to remember that this powerful
perspective grew sturdy legs throughout political history. Martin Luther King,
in fact, was inspired by scripture at The Mall in Washington, D.C. when he
began to quote the Book of Amos and   
ultimately moved forward to declare to the gathering crowd: “I have a
dream…that one day…”

 
# # #

Sandra D. Bricker is a best-selling and award-winning author of laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for the Christian market. Her most recent book, Always the Baker Finally the Bride is the final novel in the Another Emma Rae Creation series from Abingdon Press Fiction. Check out her website at www.SandraDBricker.com. 

Sandie leads a team of writers in creating the Living It Out daily Bible study for CedarCreek Church.
Today’s devotion is borrowed from the Living It Out study on HOPE. If you enjoyed it, feel free to check
out the daily
studies by e-mail or audio podcast by clicking HERE.

5 Things Fiction Acquisition Editors NEVER Say with Ramona Richards

 Ramona Richards, fiction acquisitions editor for Abingdon Press, started
making stuff up at 3, writing it down at 7, and selling it at 18. She’s
been annoying editors ever since, which is probably why she became one.
She’s edited more than
400 publications and has worked with such publishers as Thomas Nelson,
Barbour, Howard, Harlequin, Ideals, and others. She’s the author of 9
books, including the recent
Memory of Murder from Love Inspired. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves living in the ongoing street party that is Nashville.
 









1-That’s such a pretty
manuscript, I want to buy it.

I’m not in this business to pay typesetters to write novels.
I don’t care how much experience you have with layout and design; keep your
manuscript simple. There are several reasons for this. 

1) Special fonts are
distracting; I just want to read a good story. If the story isn’t there, all
the fancy layouts in the world aren’t going to make me want to buy it.

2)
Special fonts, artwork, etc. take up space and are likely to trigger spam
alerts.

Unless your receiving editor tells you something different,
use Word. Double-spaced with one-inch margins. One document with one section. A
running header with your last name, title, and page number is as elaborate as we
need it.

2-Fiction is exactly
like non-fiction; any good editor will do.


I’ve lost track of the people who’ve told me that their
novel has been “professionally edited” by the copy editor at the local
newspaper. Or their English professor. Or the non-fiction writer down the
street.

Editing fiction is NOT like editing an article or a trade
non-fiction book. I hire professional editors who have a successful background
editing a specific genre of fiction. They have a very particular skill set that
includes a knowledge and understanding of plot, character development, and the
expectation of a particular genre. Not all romance editors make good suspense
editors.

Save your money and join a good critique group of fiction
authors. Or ask around. There are a number of good fiction editors out there.        

Just remember: No matter what you’ve done to it before it’s
submitted, your manuscript will STILL be edited by the in-house team.

3-Fiction is exactly
like non-fiction; no platform equals no sales.


A fiction author with a platform may be golden, but please
remember one thing:

STORY IS KING

Type that out and pin it up next to your writing place.
Abingdon publishes several successful authors who seldom do more than online
blog interviews. Platform is far more important for non-fiction folks. A
fabulous story can still find readers. A platform will HELP sell the book to
readers, no doubt. A good platform makes an author more attractive. But I would
never turn down a remarkable book just because the author is not “out there”
yet.
This is about trends. Would I like to find the next trend
that will fly out of booksellers’ doors? Of course! Do we publishing Amish
books? Of course! Would I buy a badly written book just because I’m desperate
to publish in a popular trend?

No.

4-It’s Amish, so I want it. 

Just because you’ve written an Amish or historical romance
or whatever’s hot, that doesn’t
mean I’m automatically interested. The craft, the story, the reader engagement
still has to be on the page.

Remember: STORY IS KING. Yes, I said that above.

5-I’ve never seen a
book like this before, so I’m not interested.

Editors often get accused of looking for the same old, same
old. In part, that’s true. My side of the desk is all about finding great stories
that live up to reader expectations. And if readers are still buying and
craving a particular genre, we’re going to keep publishing them. That doesn’t
mean that the unique or “never before” story doesn’t get our attention.
Unfortunately, most of the “never befores” I’ve received are poorly conceived
and executed. But when one stands out, I’m game.

When I received the manuscript for The Dog That Talked to God, it was definitely something we hadn’t
seen before. Likewise, the follow-up book The
Cat That God Sent.
But they were well written, engaging, and they both made
me cry like a baby. They sold to me, and they sold to our readers. So far Dog is one of our best selling books.

Anytime someone gives you a “never” about what editors do or
don’t, take it lightly. We get paid to track this strange sea-change business
of publishing, and we know one thing: What’s true today may be different
tomorrow.
But the one thing I’ve not seen change in more than thirty years is
almost every editor’s bottom line: Story is king.