Do a normal one for Elijah
- Back Cover Copy Formula
Many years before Elijah became the wizened and bowed
- The whirlwind snatched an old…
A white haired wrinkled ElijahElijah was..When the whirlwind snatched Elijah
- Chased by soldiers, fed by ravens, and sheltered by a widow in a distant land. Ever wondering if the black eyed beauty next door
- Fed by ravens.
- Sheltered by a widow in a distant land.
- Mountain Showdown.
- When at last he returns will he find the girl next door waiting or married to the …. son?
- Showdown on Mt Carmel.
- Returns to Tishbe
- Hiding from the king
Cover copy has to convince every reader to read it. That’s a lot of pressure for a few paragraphs.
A query letter needs a strong, clear hook, a clear sense of the conflict, a sense of the protagonist, specific details about the plot and story, a sense of escalating stakes, a basic world building or setting details, a sense of the author’s voice and style.
These elements all need to be specific enough to show why this novel is different from all the others in the agent’s submission pile, and why it’s worth asking for. Agents and editors need to know the twists and secrets, even if it gives away the ending.
Cover copy needs a strong hook, a sense of story, a sense of the protagonist, an intriguing premise or setup, a sense of the book, a sense of the author’s voice and style.
These elements can be vague and tease readers, because they don’t want to know the answers first. They want something interesting enough to pique their curiosity, and want to discover the rest when they read the book.
But if the cover copy isn’t intriguing enough to convince that reader to buy the book, it’s not doing its job.
The most common problems writers run into when writing cover copy are:
1. Being too vague
Beware of vague statements that only mean something to those who already know the book, or those that could apply to any novel in that genre (or any novel at all).
For example: “But Jane discovers things aren’t what she expected,” or “Jane must overcome problem after problem to solve this mystery,” or “Things get complicated.” These statements generally describe every book ever written.
2. Relying on clichés, not information
The trouble with clichés is they say nothing specific about your book and your story. They also sound like hundreds of other novels, which can make readers feel like they’ve already read your book.
For example: “Got more than they bargained for,” or “Must overcome his past mistakes,” or, “Jane gets in over her head,” or one of the classics… “Or did he?”
3. Trying to cover too much of the book
The goal of cover copy is to entice readers to read more, but writers often try to cram the entire book into a few hundred words.
Don’t try to summarize the entire novel, just focus on the core elements:
- Who’s the protagonist?
- What’s the conflict?
- What are the stakes?
- What’s the twist?
- Where does it take place?
- Why does all this matter?
Tease the things that made you want to write it in the first place.
Tip: Look at the first act of your novel (roughly the first 25%). The major turning points in that section contain the information you’ll want to share, and sometimes just focusing on the catalyst and inciting event is enough to find the perfect cover copy hook.
4. Showing the setup, not the conflict
On the flip side is cover copy that explains how the book got to where it starts, and doesn’t actually say anything about the story itself.
It focuses on the history of the world, an event that happened that created the situation the novel finds itself in, the past the protagonist is trying to overcome. It’s essentially all backstory.
In a created-world novel (science fiction, fantasy, historical), you often have to show a little world building to establish the novel’s setting and mechanics, but use only what you absolutely need to entice readers to understand the conflict and pick up the book.
Writing good cover copy can be harder than writing the novel, but worth the effort to do well. That blurb contains some of the most important words in your novel. If readers aren’t intrigued enough by the cover copy to buy it, they’ll never discover the wonderful story you’ve written.