More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I wanna sleep with your book!

My Darling Daughter has a charming quirk. On her nightstand (which is actually a Rose Petal Cottage toy washing machine. I think her use of it as a nightstand speaks of her attitude towards housekeeping) are a tall pile of books. Not just Peter Pan, Max & Ruby, and The Tale of Tom Kitten, but also The Encyclopedia Of World Religions, a book on growing trees and shrubs, and Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre.

Every night, at bedtime, we read her a story, tuck her under her blankets, set up her stuffed toys so that they are all around her, then leave her to look through her "big" books.

After about 10 minutes, I go in, untangle my sleeping bibliomaniac and the books from her blanket and put them next to her bed. I usually let her keep a paperback in there with her.

Yes, my daughter sleeps with books. I have no idea where she learned that from. (Okay, fine. It was me.)

She's 3. Why did she choose these books? Because she likes the covers, of course. Why do you choose books? (Only a little sarcasm there.)

While browsing a bookshelf for something to read, we look at the cover. If it passes muster, we usually turn the paperback over or open up the hardcover to read what is called the jacket copy. The Dorchester contestants are now working madly on their versions of jacket copy as we sit here and read. Sometimes, it's the author's copy editor that creates these 200 word insights to the novel. As an author, I would like to have more control over that stuff, if possible.

As I was writing my version of a jacket copy for two of my manuscripts, I went online to the wide, wide web and did some research. The best resource I've found for hints on writing a jacket copy that works was a--ready? Please, don't throw any rotten food my way!--self-publishing site.

Wait, think about it...makes sense now, doesn't it?

Xlibris has a very good "how-to" on what is expected from a back of jacket copy.

As much info you get on a jacket copy, I miss when paperbacks used to have that excerpt in the front of some sexy/intense moment between the two main characters. In a rush, I would just open and read to see if it, well, tickled me in some way. In a good way. I'd take it home, and, if it was really good, I'd sleep with it.


Jennifer L Hart said...

LOL Robin! You sure are raising a reader! I like to sleep with books, too. Actually I like to do lots of stuff with books. I was that weird girl who always had a novel just in case I could catch a little reading time. Wait, I'm still that weird girl.

I did the jacket copy on textnovel too, 'cause even if my story isn't up for votes, it is excellent practice. What shows up on jacket copy should also be part of our query letters, including the hook. So even if there are editors out there to write jacket copy for us, we need to do a rocking one ourselves to get the manuscript in their hot little hands in the first place.

What sells to the agent/editor should convince the readers to buy, right?

C.J. Ellisson said...

Got some info from an editor at Dorchester today on the voting of the Jacket Copy on textnovel and wanted to share it with the divas.

I asked if the voting would determine the final five.

Here's the answer I got:

"The voting on the jacket copy is solely for the purpose of choosing a Fan Favorite and won't have any bearing on narrowing down the current 10 to the Top 5. That's why we realized we needed the manuscripts a little earlier than the original date of Dec. 31. The editors--and not voting--will determine the Top 5 based on either the full manuscript if we're able to get it before the original deadline or, if not, what's currently posted at"

Hope this helps and I'm wishing you all the very best in the contest. Like one of the divas wrote the other day - I feel like a winner even if my book isn't picked.

Glad to be in this with a bunch of classy writers like yourselves -

Courtney Sheets said...

I love this! I am always falling asleep with a book in the bed with me.

Robin said...

Jenn--I buy purses based on if it has room to hold a paperback and my wallet. When I was doing my jacket copy, I have to say I find it hard to see a difference between hook, high concept and jacket covers--except that some are longer than other.

CJ--Thank you so much for getting clarification on that! See how awesome you are--going above and beyond for others around you.

Courtney--You need to read some books that are a bit more exciting ;)--try something by Saranna DeWylde. The last thing you'll wanna do is sleep.

SarannaDeWylde said...

Robin! You are such a doll. I love you, girly! And you are definitely raising a winner.

My oldest has started asking to read the books I do and I was younger than she is when I started reading romance but...

I miss those days too. I love the little excerpt. It's not just because it's smutty, it's the emotion. It's the hook.

And I buy purses the same way. *g* I keep thinking I want an e-reader, but man, I love the feel of the book, the smell of the pages, the texture...

Jennifer L Hart said...

Hook--Used to identify your target market.
It's like the name game-- pick the first five words or phrases that you think of when you ponder your story. What message do you want to convey?

Courtney's: This ain't your mama's Robin Hood.
Gail's: Cougar Time
Candi's: He's her reason to stay

A very basic, but powerful, one-liner that tells us about the ride in store. These are the words you make sure end up in your query.

This leads to the logline or pitch, which boils your plot down to a few sentences. I'm gonna tackle this on my blog some time soon. Example:

Logline for The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag: Skeletons in the
Closet By Jennifer L. Hart

Maggie's devotion to her two young sons and retired Navy SEAL
husband hasn't prepared her for the challenges of running a business. Or for the bodies piling up around her. Poor bumbling Maggie must
search for a killer amongst the elite of Hudson, MA in the only way
she can; by scrubbing their thrones.
Of the porcelain variety that is...

I'll let someone else handle high concept as it is not my strong suit.

Robin said...

High Concept--1 to 2 sentences that is the essence of your work. Shannon helped me on mine for FAE NIGHTS:

Struggling to find normalcy in her paranormal world, Eve Stryker is tossed into a centuries old battle between the Faery Seelie and Unseelie courts, where her only ally may be her assassin.

Casse AKA Catholic Kittie said...

I am proud to admit, I do judge a book by its cover. That's what they are for IMHO. I also am not surprised Vanity publishing had the best on info on jacket copy. I dont get the big faux paux on self pubs. Heck I read self pub books. I hate how editors try and tell us (they buyers and readers) what is worthy to read. (if you never read a self pub book you are missing out on some of the best and unique stories written.) And it paid my college bills selling my books out my back pack lol. That said I just want to say GOOD LUCK to all my textnovel finalist. You all rock my world chapter by chapter. I can't wait to sleep with your book in my bed too!

SarannaDeWylde said...


Thanks for the good luck! I did want to mention that vanity publishing and self-publishing are two very different creatures.

I have nothing against self-pubbers. I have a few friends who are self-pubbed and they're fantastic writers.

The SWFA has a great article on the differences between the two. *g*

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