Writing about a book vs. writing a book

One of the things that I'm going to have to do after I finish this editing pass is to cook up jacket copy for Trust and polish the description.

Whether you self-publish or publish traditionally, you have to get the hang of writing about your book, which is a very different thing than writing the book itself. Basically you have to sort out who would want to read your book and why--which was something I struggled mightily with in my initial description.

My current description mentions things like, "Hey, this book is character driven," which I think falls in the same category as "Hey, this book has a language advisory" or "Hey, this book is erotica" or "Hey, this is a short story." Certain things you really need to be very up-front about, because there are readers who are really looking for it and others who will get extremely upset.

The New Podler quote serves double duty: It's a favorable review (you want to highlight any quality markers you have, which is why the first sentence is that review and the next sentence begins "Award-winning writer"), and it plays up the '60s social sci-fi thing, which some people really like.

You also have to show the reader in the description that you can actually write this sort of book. Wacky comedy? Your description had better not be dry and dull. Tender romance? Your description should make people cry.

In some ways, it's easier if you self-publish because it's clear what the description is--it's what people see when they click on your title on Amazon. Obviously, it's marketing copy written to sell the book.

In traditional publishing, it's a little confusing, because when you send off your book to an agent or editor, you include what's called a synopsis. We all wrote synopses in English class, right? It's a summary of the plot of the book. When I first started sending stuff out, I bought a book about selling novels, and it told me that it was very, VERY, VERY important that the entire plot get crammed into that synopsis.

You know what I found out? People who sell books about selling novels don't actually sell or buy novels. In other words, that was completely wrong advice. Actual agents and published novelists will tell you that a synopsis is a marketing document. The job of the "synopsis" is to do exactly what a description does--to sell your book. You're selling to an agent or editor, not to a reader, but the goal is the same--someone should read that puppy and say, "Oh my God! I've GOT to read that book!"