First Crack at Promo Copy

As I get closer to publishing State of Grace, I find there are still so many things to do. I’ve been working on getting the book edited and building my platform. I’ve been trying to get my website rebuilt (a project that has proven more difficult than it seems it should be).

But there’s a lot to do if I want this book to sell well. One of them is to come up with enticing promo copy — the words that will make potential readers want to know more, want to read the first couple chapters, want to buy.

There are two schools of thought on how to do this well. The first is that you should be able to write a description in 150 words. That’s not a lot of space to create compelling copy, but the thinking is the average reader is only going to give you that much time to pitch them.

The second is to write a longer description. Amazon gives you up to 4000 words; take the opportunity to make the best sell you can.

I’ve decided to do both. A short description hopefully hooks the reader enough to want to read the longer one or, better, the sample chapters. So I’m presenting them both here for feedback. I’m a firm believer in soliciting opinions. Just because I like it doesn’t mean it will work.

Here’s the short description. It’s 160 words (yeah, I cheated a bit):

When his friend and colleague is brutally murdered, Wolf Dasher is sent to the elf nation of Alfar to discover who did it and why. She left a single-word clue: “Silverleaf.” But Sagaius Silverleaf is Alfar’s ambassador to Wolf’s homeland of Urland, and he was in Urland at the time of the crime. He couldn’t be the killer.

Or could he? Wolf quickly discovers there is more to this elf than anyone suspects – a mysterious past, a loathing of Urland, and alliances with a mad general, a terrorist, and a psychopathic killer. Forced to navigate a culture he barely understands, Wolf finds himself in a race against time to prevent a devastating act of terror that will kill thousands of elves and change the balance of power in the world forever.

State of Grace is the first book in a series of fantasy-thriller mash-up novels that blends magic, super spies, and politics in an electrifying brew of action and adventure.

It’s short, hits the high points of the plot, and describes the high stakes of Wolf’s mission.

Here’s the long description. This one’s 439 words, so there is room for expansion if I want:

Sara Wensely-James is good at her job. One of Urland’s best Shadows, she’s been operating in the elf nation of Alfar, tracking down the sinister terrorist organization, the Sons of Frey.

So when she is brutally murdered, her superiors want to know by whom and why. They assign Wolf Dasher, another of their best Shadows, to track down Sara’s killer and put a stop to whatever he’s up to.

Sara left a one-word clue to the identity of her murderer: “Silverleaf.” But Sagaius Silverleaf is Alfar’s ambassador to Urland, and he was in Urland on diplomatic business when she was killed. It couldn’t be him.

Or could he? Wolf meets him at a ritzy club in Urland and quickly discovers three things: the elf is arrogant, hates Urland, and cheats at cards to fleece them. When Wolf sharks him at cards, he makes a mortal enemy.

Silverleaf returns to Alfar shortly thereafter, and Wolf is sent after him. But there’s a major complication: Wolf’s cover is as the new ambassador to Alfar. He knows little about Elfin culture and even less about diplomacy, but, in addition to investigating Silverleaf, he’ll have to try to sort out of one of the stickiest political situations in the world. Alfar’s shaky coalition government wants Urland to withdraw its military forces, sent four years ago to help prevent a coup. But Urland has numerous trade agreements with Alfar it can’t afford to lose, and the Sons of Frey commit daily acts of terrorism to try to destabilize the government, leaving it ripe for takeover by the anti-human, fundamentalist theocracy of neighboring Jifan.

Now Wolf must balance the needs of Her Majesty’s Government against his mission. As the evidence against Silverleaf mounts – an alliance with a mad general, a psychopathic killer as a servant, and a potential link to the Sons of Frey – Wolf finds himself in a race against time to prevent a devastating act of terrorism that will kill thousands of elves and change the balance of power in the world forever. He’ll get help from Silverleaf’s estranged girlfriend and the captain of Alfar’s Elite Guard, but he’ll need all that and his mysterious Shadow powers to overcome a foe this dangerous, and it still might not be enough.

State of Grace is the first in a series of fantasy-thriller mashup novels, blending magic, super spies, and politics in an exciting brew of action and adventure. From the chilling opening scene to the pulse-pounding climax, State of Grace takes the best elements of a classic espionage thriller and a good court intrigue and projects them into a world both familiar and fantastic.

This one gives a little more of the plot away and gives the reader more background on the nature of the world Wolf must navigate.

But do either of them make you want to buy the book? Do you read them and think, “This sounds pretty cool”? Perhaps most importantly, do either (or both) of them generate an emotional response?

A book blurb needs to create a connection between the reader and the story. Otherwise, they move onto another book.

So let me know what you think. Leave a comment and tell me if you think they work, or if they need improvement. Let me know what you would change.

Because for State of Grace to satisfy readers, they have to want to read it first.

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3 thoughts on “First Crack at Promo Copy

  1. John,

    With both entries I feel like I know enough that I no longer need to read the book. Assuming general spy novel and fantasy fiction conventions I think I know how it will end… hero wins right? I don’t know enough about Wolf to give a hoot. His friend dies sad but so what. I don’t feel like there is any mystery to the why’s What is Wolf’s motivation beyonfd being a good soldier? I already know the villian who he works with. It feels flat.

    Also, Sara Wensley James is good at her job tracking down terrorist and when she is murdered the Gov’t wants to know why? More than likely they know why (my jaded opinion).

    Your villian may be awesome but I know too much about him. When Darth Vader showed up we shat ourselves. Mostly, because he was mysterious and awe inspiring. I need to discover his evil. Why do we automatically connect Silverleaf with this guy? Just cause its his name. Is Silverleaf a common elf name?

    I don’t mean to be harsh but I do not feel like I am drawn in. Give me a little and make me want more. I feel like I have alot and its enough.

    David

  2. Thanks, Dave. Excellent criticism! This is exactly what I was looking for. Seems I need to go over what I have and write something that creates a more emotional response. Less info about the villain and more about Wolf’s struggles and the danger.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Pingback: Second Crack at Promo Copy « Pleading the Phyth

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