As I said in class, I use my formula every single time I write a cover copy (some call it a blurb).
In 10 easy(ish) steps
By Amber Argyle
Step 1-The goal of a Cover Copy
u If you can evoke the right emotional response, they will buy your book.
u Which means you need to know the key emotion your book evokes.
u Inform�you must be honest!
u If you promise X in the CC and deliver Y, you�ll get bad reviews
u IE: In WB, I wanted to put in that the world was at stake, but it wasn�t.
u If you find yourself exaggerating to make a CC more interesting, maybe it�s time to rewrite.
u Who is your audience? Sci fi reader? Young adult? Suspense?
u What does your audience want to know?
u Thriller: will you keep me on the edge of my seat?
u SciFi/Fantasy: Will you arouse my sense of wonder?
u Myster: Will I be guessing who done it till the very end?
u Romance: Will I fall in love along with your protag?
u For steampunk, historical, fantasy, the setting is part of the sizzle. For action thrillers it might be the gritty ex-forces hero. For crime procedural it�s the puzzle.
u Each word needs to evoke the emotion beats of your genre.
u Be aware of connotations
u Each of these words has a vastly different connotation and give the reader an idea of the emotions your story will evoke.
u One liner that catches the reader�s attention.
u Notice that these steps mimic those for plotting a novel.
u *A novelette*
A ship burns, sinking into the dark sea. (Witch Rising)
u Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. (Cinder)
u Note the use of irony in both of these examples.
u A gorgeous, witchy, romantic fantasy by a debut author! Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and the Beautiful Creatures series! (Born Wicked)
Step 5-Establish Normal
u Establish normal�What�s normal for your character/world?
u There is only one survivor�a child hunted for the power of her song. Hidden away on an isolated island, Lilette buries her power deep, convinced it caused the deaths of those she loves. (Witch Rising)
u She�s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister�s illness. (Cinder)
u Everybody thinks Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. (Born Wicked)
u �When we find our protag, they are_____.�
u That moment when the world changes forever for the protag. *Notice they all begin with �but�*
u But she can�t run from who she is. And when her secret is revealed, (Witch Rising)
u But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai�s, (Cinder)
u But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. Then Cate finds her mother’s diary, and uncovers a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. (Born Wicked)
u The protag�s �normal� is broken by a twist/villan. It�s the second half of the �But . . .� sentence.
u , the only thing that can save her is her song. (Witch Rising)
u , she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. (Cinder)
u And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship–or an early grave. (Born Wicked)
Step 8-Risk and Rewards
u List the risks and rewards if the protag fails/succeeds.
u It�s time to rise up and become what she was always meant to be: the most powerful witch ever born. (Witch Rising)
u Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world�s future. (Cinder)
u Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. But if what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe–not even from each other. (Born Wicked)
u As is show above, some CC add a �Plan�, in which the details are brought up.
Step 9-Checks and balances
u Read outloud. Does it flow well w/o jarring or stops/starts.
u Always read aloud in a sexy Hollywood voice.
u Crowd Source: Find them on FB writer sites. Post your blurb, ask for help. The ones who are good at it, ask them to help you more.
u Check for grammar/spelling issues
u People Problem Plan Power Prize Peril POV
u Most important information up top
u This is the purpose of a Hook
u Sci fi and fantasy needs the world set up before the characters.
u The best CCs end like they began, with a hook that�s a mirror opposite of the opening hook.
u Hook (One liner that grabs readers attention).
u Establish Normal (Paint picture of protag + setting).
u Break (often using the word �but�)
u *often broken by Twist/Villian*.
u The Plan can be included or omitted depending on voice and complexity.
u Risks and Rewards if protag succeeds or fails.
u Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king–a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.