Compacting Your Whole Plot into Paragraphs

[This post is part of a series on writing sales copy for your book—see the first piece in the series here: The Truth About the Back of your Book.]

We're always told not to judge a book by its cover... but most people are referring to the front of the book. It's flip side is a different matter. Without well written sales copy to convince a reader to give your book a chance the content in between those two covers doesn't stand much of a shot.

The key to strong book sales is in how well your sell it. Once you've gotten solid reviews (see the first post in this series on how to do that) and permission from the reviewers to include their comments, it's time to write your product description. For many authors this is the hardest part of the process—in fact, at many publishing companies the editors write the book summary, so the author doesn't have to.

Compacting your entire book into a few short paragraphs isn't easy, but here are two basic templates you can follow that can make putting together this descriptor easier—with two more templates coming next week.

Character Summary

One common way of pulling a reader in with only a short blurb is to use the strength of your characters. Think of the back of most romance novels—they include a short paragraph on each of the lovers, their history and a sentence or two to tease at the plot. Other genres that commonly use this template include fantasy books and historical fiction.

This tactic works best when your main plot line is focused on an internal struggle or change—such as two lovers who initially hate each other but later come to fall in love or a hero whose companions must learn the value of loyalty to succeed against an outside challenge.

To use a Character Summary as your product description, pick out the main characters in your work and then include a short paragraph on each, introducing them just enough to capture the readers attention. If you'd like you can even include a paragraph at the end to pull them together and hint at where the novel will take them. Want to see an example? Boots and Chaps: Ugly Stick Saloon, Book 1 by Myla Jackson uses this method in its Amazon description. Click here to check it out. 

Single Character Point of View

Similar to the Character Summary, the Single Character point of view can be used when you're primary conflict is an internal shift within your main character—but where your writing focuses mostly on just one person's point of view or where your main character is forced along a path of self discover. I've seen a number of books using this technique recently, and it can be a powerful choice when done well.

Here, there is only one character described. It opens with a short sentence or paragraph on that character's history, then suggests something is about to change. In the next paragraph it hints at what and why—without giving away the ending.

What to see an example? Check out Verity (Cursed #1) by Claire Farrell—in her Amazon description young Perdita practically jumps off the screen and you're left longing for more.

Coming soon...

In the next piece in the series I'll talk about a pyramid product description and a bulleted descriptor, including how to write them and why you might want to try. Then, to wrap the series up we'll talk about the "About the Author" section and why you shouldn't leave it out.

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My name is Melissa Breau & I’m a Raleigh-based tea-drinker and dog aficionado. If you’re local, let me know—I’d love to grab a drink.

By day, I’m a keyboard junkie, and (shameless plug) craft killer marketing content for small business owners far and wide.

By night (and sometimes on the weekend) I help out at several nonprofits, teach my dog new tricks, and try to spend as much time outside in the sunshine as I can.

Before joining the world of marketing I spent several years at various publishing companies in NYC, including both magazine publishers and book publishers. I also earned my Masters in Publishing from Pace University.

Want to chat? Find me on twitter or drop me a line via my website.

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