Rowena Kuo:Writing Epic Back Cover

rowenakuo2016Today I welcome Rowena Kuo to my blog. She is an Acquisitions Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I sat in on her Writing Epic Back Cover class at the Write to Publish Conference this past June. Her knowledge helped clarify so much for me. I have touched on the importance of awesome back cover content in a previous post. Writing back cover isn’t as easy as I once thought. It’s not my best work. And other authors admit they’d rather have a root canal. So to take some of the pain and mystery out of this daunting task I’ve called on Rowena to give us some helpful guidelines toward excellent back copy.

Ro, welcome. I am so honored to have you as a guest blogger.

Thank you, Cindy. I always enjoy visiting with you and look forward to any time I get to see you again.

The word length of the back cover copy is 100 to 300 words. Tell us how do we decide what goes into this small cache’ of words? What should we leave out? How can we discern the difference?

Every word on your back cover carries weight, so we should make each word count. The back cover should answer “who, what, where, when, and why,” with the book content being the “how.”  Introduce your main characters by name and their relationship to each other, what the story is about, the setting, the time period, and why your reader should invest in your story. When you introduce your main characters, first show what is the “normal” world before everything goes wrong. Introduce your “average citizen” before his “call to duty,” and whether or not he will answer that call to become a “superhero.”

Place your characters in a place and time setting, so that your readers can affiliate with your story. This is key to deciding the genre of your book. You should then say what that “call to duty” is, the “inciting incident” that destroys the “normal” world and forces your character into action. Every story must have conflict to be interesting. State what that conflict is. The “why” of your story should make your characters compelling, your story thought-provoking, and intrigue your reader enough to buy your book.

Leave out non-essential and complicated storylines. Don’t summarize what happens in the story. Sometimes becoming too detailed drags your back cover copy, and your reader will search for a different book. End your back cover copy with a question. That question should entice your reader and should be answered upon reading your book.

Once we decide what goes in how do we make the words epic?

Use words that drive your book to the top of searches. Go to Amazon and search for the best-selling books in your genre. Read the back cover copies, and online, these would be the description or blurb when you click on the book title.

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How do I find those top seller books in any given genre to examine the back cover?

  1. Go to Amazon.com
  2. On the Amazon search bar, the gray tab on the left drops down. Find Kindle Store.
  3. On the far left-hand vertical bar, find Kindle eBooks.
  4. Still, on that far left-hand vertical bar, there are several categories of books. Click on your genre. For example: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense. The number in the parenthesis next to the genre is how many titles are categorized in that particular genre. This number can change depending on new books coming out that fall into that category.
  5. Refine your search to the smallest sub-category. These are still on that left-hand bar. For example: Mystery–>Cozy (2878)
  6. Click on that first book. The books can change from moment to moment depending on book sales, so what I find at the top today, you may not find there tomorrow. The important thing to look at is the back cover copy or the description of those top 10 books. For each book, there will be rankings in 3 genres.
  7. Look at the words that “pop out” at you, common words that search engines will use to align your book with the titles at the top of your genre.

Certain words trigger search engines and lead readers to those books. Plant those words into your back cover copy. Depending upon the genre, these words will vary, but a little research on your part prior to writing your back cover copy can be the difference between your audience finding your book and your novel being dead last. For example, the keywords I see on the back cover for the #1 book in Romance and Women’s Fiction are: fatal, accident, discovered, secret, lies, disappears, suspicion, love, romantic, gripping, mystery, suspense.

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How important is back cover copy to potential readers?

Back cover copy is what your reader looks at to decide whether or not to invest time and money in your book. This copy is what search engines use to connect books to the right audience. It’s important to know your genre and all the possible genres where your book might fit. Knowing your genre(s) can help you write back cover copy that will attract the readers who would enjoy your story.

How important is the wording of back cover copy to Amazon and other online and storefront retailers?

Amazon and other retailers base success on sales, and sales drive where your book ranks. Amazon gets a cut of every sale, so having a back cover copy that translates into sales is key to how successful your book is going to be. Of course, the book itself must have an amazing story, but it is the back cover copy that influences readers to make that purchase.

How many tries does it take to get this right?

Writing back cover copy can be a trying task. It can be written and rewritten dozens of times before it would pass publisher approval. Don’t lose heart at this stage. It will be worth the effort no matter how many times it takes to revise your back cover copy.

Any final words for forlorn authors struggling to make their back cover shine?

I encourage you to read the back cover copies of the best-selling books in your genres. Write down words that pop out at you and draw you to that book. Investigate what drives a book to the top of the lists and make sure your book is comparable. Use active rather than passive verbs and descriptions that engage the imagination, curiosity, and heart of your readers. I’m still looking for the magic formula that will make our books crash the download servers, but I hope that I have given you a few pointers to at least ensure your back cover copy promises a fantastic read. If your book delivers the story your back cover promises, then you are well on your way to successful sales. See you at the top of the charts!

Rowena Kuo is an editor and executive producer for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Lighthouse Productions of the Carolinas. With over 15 years of ministering to children, youth groups, young adults, and now women and family groups, Rowena advocates for writers to build God-centered support systems consisting of people, perseverance, practice, and most of all, prayer. She has written for Christian Devotions, Written World Communications, and the 168 Write of Passage. When not working on words or films, she is a full-time mom with secret aspirations for spaceflight.

Rowena Kuo
Acquisitions Editor
Editorial Director
Fiction Division
Managing Editor, Brimstone Fiction
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
http://lighthousepublishingofthecarolinas.com/
Development Executive Producer
http://lpcmediagroup.com

Do you have a love or hate relationship with back cover copy?

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Guest Blog: Is Writing Part of Your Life Purpose?

Today I have my new friend, accountability partner and professional life coach Darlene Lund as my guest. Darlene has been a wonderful catalysis to help me reach my weekly writing goals. She writes from her desire to help women fulfill all God has for them.

Darlene Lund Life Coach shares a challenge as my guest today.

Darlene Lund, Life Coach shares a challenge as my guest today.

A Bit about Darlene

Darlene Lund, founder of Hearts with a Purpose, www.heartswithapurpose.com , coaches and inspires women to live out their life purpose. A Professional Certified Life Coach, Life Purpose Coach®, Recovery Coach, Grief-loss Coach, and a strategic 2-Day Lifeplan coach; Darlene offers customized coaching for women right where they are. She is passionate that women become fully alive to all that God has created them for.

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From her heart to yours

As a little girl I often saw my mother pick up her blue fountain pen. My siblings and I were warned it was not ours to touch. The tip of the pen point was quite delicate. The pen held an ink cartridge that was a little cylinder. It contained liquid blue ink and had to be replaced often.

When my mom pressed the pen to the paper the words appeared to trickle and tumble. Like magic the skinny pen delivered a flow of blue words.

My Mother was no author or blogger. Yet, she touched countless lives by dropping a handwritten card or note in the mail to communicate to others that they were cared for, thought of, and loved. Recipients often complimented and thanked her and added, “Donna, you have such beautiful hand writing.”

In the evenings, only for her families’ eyes and ears, she would pull out her diary and quickly pen the day’s highlights, plus share news with us that occurred the previous year.

So why did my mother write when she had such little free time? Was writing a part of my mother’s life purpose?

I believe so. She loved communicating to others through the written word. Plus she cast a vision to me that writing was a positive craft.

How about you, is writing a part of your life purpose?

As a coach for women and a Life Purpose Coach ® I hear women’s burning heart desires. Sometimes the writing passion is in their heart’s cry. Sometimes it is not. If there is an all-consuming message to share, usually I hear that. I challenge these women to take inventory on what God would have them to do with the message.

I have been a reluctant writer. I never dreamed of having my name on a book jacket. However, I did grow up with the dream of becoming a teacher. I achieved that dream.

In my early 20’s I taught children. Later in my 40s’ I sensed a shift. God transitioned my focus to women. I was to coach, teach, speak and write on behalf of women’s needs.

Writing is not easy for me. But, the message of who God is, what he has done and been in my life, far out-weighs my past fears and frustration of writing. I know it is a part of my life purpose. If I were not to write, what he has vested in me would be sealed off from others. I would be robbing the Lord of the glory he deserves.

For some individuals writing can be fun. Therapeutic. Creative. And others find it painful, difficult, and challenging. Writing, blogging, getting published takes work, effort, re-writing, do overs along with days, months, and years pitching to get published.

I believe if the message in the writer is to be reproduced to touch others’ lives, it will come to be. Writing on purpose takes persistent, perseverance, and push through.

For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:29” (NASB)

Darlene’s challenge

What is your heart’s burning desire?

Do you have a message that must be shared?

What is stopping or blocking you?

Will you deny others the privilege of learning, because you did not write?

www.heartswithapurpose.com

Darlene@heartswithapurpose.com

Subscribe to  Hearts with a Purpose Newsletter

Thank you so much, Darlene, for this challenge.

So readers, what burning desire has God put on your heart? We’d love to hear about it? Leave a comment below.

 

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Guest Blog -Birthdays always a time to reflect

New-Birthday-Balloon-Clipart

While I spend time with my father who is recuperating from surgery Charlotte Snead has graciously agreed to fill in. Loved her candor.

Many folks my age are retired, traveling the world or content with their laurels. Some of my friends have died. I’ve reared five incredible children who are making contributions to society, and one foster daughter, who says she wouldn’t know Jesus if we hadn’t been her mama and papa. (She’s my best salesperson, as a beautician, she talks my books up to her customers!) I’ve had a good life, and if I die tomorrow, I’ve had it all, but I can’t be content. I published my first book, His Brother’s Wife, in 2011 and two more last summer (2013). My husband is an orthopedic surgeon. He will be 75 in April, but he studies, goes to conferences, and operates. (He has cut back to four days a week.) Every day we pray he has the opportunity to lift up Jesus to his staff, his patients, and his colleagues.

Is something wrong with us? I think not. Something is very right with us. We are abundantly blessed, and we continue to be on fire to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, each of us in our own way, and both of us agreeing for one another. I write from my experiences—fiction, but novels that contain conversations I have had in my work in Pregnancy Care ministry, as the mother of a Special Forces soldier (who has been in dangerous situations), and as a MOPS mentor, teaching women to revere Life and to love their husbands.

My first book and the second one, Invisible Wounds, deal with our brave young warriors and the wounds, both physical and psychological, that they carry. Recovered and Free, the first of a 4-book series, about a recovered alcoholic and his musical family, is set in my beloved West Virginia, where blue grass music and the Christian faith are alive and well. It’s been a journey, going to writers’ conferences, writing seminars and critique group, but I want to write well to touch hearts.

I believe the best writing comes from personal experience. Married 52 years, I know the choices that improve or hurt a marriage. My mother was alcoholic—I’ve lived that, too. As the mother of a son who has buried over 60 close friends, I know the pain of serving in war. I founded and directed a pregnancy care ministry and still serve on its board, so I know the heartbreak of unplanned pregnancy and abandonment. As a MOPS mentor, I deal with the struggles of young married women. Some might say I go over the edge, speak too frankly, but I have had these conversations. I am earthy and Real–a real Titus 2 woman, teaching about real issues, and praying my little stories will enable others to face their lives, holding tightly to God’s hand.

As long as readers tell me my books are healing or saved a life, or someone found Christ. I’ll keep writing.

Charlotte Snead pic

Charlotte Snead, published by Oak Tara, has three romance novels in print: His Brother’s Wife, Invisible Wounds, and Recovered and Free. Married to Dr. Joseph Snead, they have five adult children and one foster daughter. They have seven grandsons and live on twenty acres in rural West Virginia.

A reminder to all commenters. Your name will be put in a drawing for Charlotte’s novel Recovered and Free: The Prodigal Father. Just leave a comment with your email written in this format- myemail at myserver dot com. I will contact the winner for a snail mail address to forward to Charlotte.

Here are the links to her books.

His Brother’s Wife

Invisible Wounds

Recovered and Free

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Guest Blogger Author Rebecca Waters : Aerobics For Your Pen

Today my friend and fellow-writer Rebecca Waters is my  guest blogger.    Enjoy her words of wisdom. 

Author Rebecca Waters

Author Rebecca Waters

Remember the writing exercises you had to do in your English class? You may have moaned and groaned in high school, but as you grow older you come to realize exercise is important in every area of your life.

I have said this before: Good writers become better writers when they write, just as good tennis players get better by playing tennis. Talking about writing isn’t enough. Do it. Get started every week with an exercise that would make your high school teacher proud.

I keep a list of exercises by me. Sometimes if I am struggling with a writing project, I will turn to one of those exercises to get the creative juices flowing.

Stretch and Flexibility

Like any good exercise program, start with a few stretches. Get out of your comfort zone to add flexibility to your writing muscles. For example, I agreed to write an article for a home health journal. Trust me, this was totally out of my comfort zone.

The article was to inform home health aides about medicines their clients may be taking while in Hospice care. I had to research both the medicines and the audience. I used the freelance writing assignment as an exercise in researching and writing.

The article was accepted for publication, but more importantly, learning about the role of the home health aide answered a problem I had while writing Breathing on Her Own. Writing in a home health aide character to engage in conversation with my main character when she came home from the hospital provided a wonderful solution to my dilemma. I’ve now written several articles for Home Health Aide Digest.

You would never write a children’s book? Then stretch yourself by drafting a children’s picture book. Learning how to communicate to a different audience will strengthen your writing skills. Why did I choose “children?” To write for children you must convey your ideas in precise and understandable words. Not a bad idea for writers.

I’m sure you will be able to come up with exercises of your own. If not, look for prompts elsewhere. I took the list of proposed topics for Chicken Soup for the Soul and decided on a few for which I had personal experiences to share. I used the prompts as exercises to practice my writing. Two of those stories were subsequently accepted and published.

Aerobics for Your Pen

I hear authors talk a lot about word count. Some argue that setting a word count goal for each day or week doesn’t improve your writing. I disagree. I try to write at least 500 words a day. Having an attainable word count goal helps me write daily. I usually exceed that goal, but if I don’t, I feel good about writing at least 500 words. Again, the more you write, the better you will get at crafting your story.

Want to engage in a bit of aerobics for your pen? Try completing a free writing exercise. This is when you write for five or ten minutes without stopping to read, revise, or edit what you are putting down on paper. You will be surprised at the bold, courageous words you craft in a free write. Somehow, being released to write without fear of editing also releases you to pour out your innermost thoughts.

Strength Training

Do writing exercises really require strength training? You bet. The strength for a writer is in the power of the words you use. There are many ways to achieve maximum strength for your words. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  1. Build your vocabulary. Some authors use crossword puzzles or play word games to build vocabulary. Some advocate reading more. Those are great ideas, but I’m thinking in terms of using a thesaurus. How many different words could you use to convey your message? And try this one for real word power: Use fewer words to convey your message.
  1. Hone your self-editing skills. You may want to subscribe to a blog about writing and editing. For example, I have found the short posts on A Little Red Inc. provide great reminders of common editing issues I should watch. (http://alittleredinc.blogspot.com)

 

Cool Down

  • Read something inspiring. (Dare I suggest a sweet little novel called Breathing on Her Own?)
  • Post inspiring pictures on your computer or by your desk.
  • Get up and take a short walk.

Note: Do not use your social media as a cool down. Your cool down needs to inspire you and allow you to think. Social media will distract you. There is a time for Facebook or Twitter or whatever you use when you are not writing.

Above all, if you want to be a writer, exercise your craft consistently. If you want to lose weight…well that’s a different blog.

About the author:

Rebecca Waters left her position as a professor of teacher education in December 2012 to actively pursue her writing career. She shares her writing journey in her weekly blog, A Novel Creation. Rebecca’s debut novel, Breathing on Her Own, was released on March 24, 2014 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. It is available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions and is also available through Barnes & Noble.

BOHO front cover

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103154/ print

Barnes and Noble Link:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breathing-on-her-own-rebecca-waters/1118968997

A Novel Creation:

http://rebeccaawaters.blogspot.com/

Thanks for sharing these great tips and words of wisdom.

If you have any questions for Becky she’d love to hear from you.