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The Book Description and Ad Copy are Your Friends

A while ago, I wrote a blog post about why I had (reluctantly) embraced the synopsis. You can read the whole thing here, but the basic idea is this: by writing the synopsis before I started to write the book, I could make sure I had a story that was properly structured, with turning points in all the right places, so that it built to a satisfying climax.

Now that I’m self-publishing, I don’t write synopses anymore, but I do still outline my key turning-point scenes before I start writing. That’s a whole lot easier than writing a polished synopsis—yay!

Unfortunately, I’m not off the hook. The synopsis hurdle has simply been replaced by two others. Now I have to write the book description (that blurb you find on the back cover of the print book and on the book page at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, etc.) and the copy for any ads I want to run to promote the book.

I could save all this fun stuff (yes, that was sarcasm) for after I finish the book, but just like with my synopsis, I’ve found that it makes more sense for me to write them beforehand. Why? Because, left to my own devices, I write these convoluted plots that I absolutely adore, but that take pages and pages to explain to a reader. And, in a Facebook ad or book description, I don’t have pages.

By writing the ad copy and book description first, I know whether I can distill my hook down to a couple of short, compelling sentences. If not, no problem. I simply tweak the concept until I can—and I don’t have to rewrite a single word of my manuscript.

I start by writing my ad copy, because it’s the shortest. With only a couple of sentences to play around with, I stick with my hook rather than trying to give the reader a detailed description of the plot. I like to start with any popular romance tropes I’m planning to include in the book, and then show that I’ve put a unique spin on the tropes.

Example Facebook Ad - Pretty in Ink by Ava Blackstone

For example, the third book in my Voretti family series, Pretty in Ink, has both friends-to-lovers & fake relationship tropes. To put a unique spin on these familiar tropes, I gave my heroine an inconvenient tattoo of her ex-boyfriend’s name. Her (very conservative) parents are about to get their first look at the tattoo, and to keep them from freaking out and pulling the loan they’ve promised her to start her new business, she needs a boyfriend they approve of, with a name that matches her tattoo—and her childhood crush just happens to fit the bill. So, putting the tropes together with my unique spin, I came up with the following ad copy:

Liv needs a fake boyfriend whose name matches her tattoo. But can she survive a month with her childhood crush without falling in love for real?

You might have noticed that it doesn’t have all the details of my hook, like why Liv needs a boyfriend with a name that matches her tattoo—in a Facebook ad, I just don’t have the space—but it (hopefully) has enough to interest potential readers.

For my book description, I have more space, so I can expand on the ad copy to give some more detail. For Pretty in Ink, here’s my description:

 

Never close your eyes while you’re getting a tattoo—even if you have a pathological fear of needles.

All Liv Voretti wanted was a small, tasteful butterfly tattoo. What she got was her (now ex-) boyfriend’s name—the worst goodbye present in the history of the universe. With the tattoo about to be revealed thanks to a strapless bridesmaid dress, Liv comes up with a desperate plan to keep her judgmental parents from pulling their loan for her clothing design business. Convince the stable, responsible, incredibly hot family friend—who happens to have the same name as her ex—to pretend to be her boyfriend.

Even with your eyes open, sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you.

The Vorettis are the closest thing to family Caleb has, and he’s not about to risk that relationship for a fling with Liv. She’d be bored with his predictable, color-inside-the-lines lifestyle inside a week. They’re just not compatible, even if she is the last person he thinks about before he falls asleep.

But when Liv comes to him for help, he can’t say no—not when he’s the reason she ended up with her jerk of an ex in the first place. But as their pretend relationship becomes all too real, Caleb must decide whether he’s going to stick to the plan, or take a chance on a woman who isn’t the person he’s looking for, but might be exactly who he needs.

 

Once I have my ad copy and book description done, it’s time for the easy part (yep, more sarcasm)—writing the book.

What about you? Do you like writing ad copy & book descriptions? Hate it? Any tips and tricks to share?

18 responses to “The Book Description and Ad Copy are Your Friends”

  1. Darynda Jones says:

    FANTASTIC POST, AVA!!! I agree with you 100%. I learned long ago that writing a synopsis or copy is way easier to do before you write the book. I don’t always stick to it word-for-word, but it’s done and easy to change if needed.

    If I wait until after the ms is complete, I feel this insane urge to include every detail. It’s much harder to whittle down than to add later. This way, the synopsis has only broad strokes with major plot and turning points. And when people ask my advice on how to write them, writing them beforehand IS my advice.

    People still look at me like I’m crazy, but I promise it works!

    3+
  2. My normal process in the past was to write a chapter or two and then write my synopsis, but that has changed. I’m now outlining the next story while ending the current wip. I find doing that keeps me focused on my characters’ GMC.

    I never thought about writing ad copy before or during. With a new book coming out in July, I’m doing that now. It’s difficult, because I want to explain everything. Thanks for this tip.

    1+
  3. >>By writing the ad copy and book description first, I know whether I can distill my hook down to a couple of short, compelling sentences<<

    THIS! And this is why I, too, craft my book description and one liner before I start to write. Helps keep me focused.

    And my tip: Read dozens and dozens of other book descriptions in your genre. You'll pick up phrasing that pops and get an excellent feel for cadence and tone.

    BTW, Ava, LOVE the ad copy for PRETTY IN INK. Clear conflict and fascinating characters!

    1+
  4. Okay, first off, I have to say I freaking LOVE your blurb and am desperate to read this book now. (Well done!)

    I’ve only written the blurb copy before the book when I’ve had to get a pre-order up in a hurry, but I’ve never considered changing the book to fit the best blurb. Interested idea. (But I would probably love your convoluted initial version too!)

    1+
    • Thanks, Vivi!
      And if you ever want convoluted, just ask me to tell you what one of my books is about verbally… There’s a reason I’m a writer. 🙂

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  5. Gwyn says:

    Great stuff! I have such trouble writing the blurb after. Thanks for a great idea.

    1+
  6. Hey Ava!
    Excellent post! As someone who recently rewrote the copy of most of her blurbs, I appreciate your concept. They included too much synopsis detail, not enough tone and broad strokes, so it was back to the drawing board. Since I’m just starting a new manuscript, I’ll give your method a whirl.

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  7. Tamara Hogan says:

    This is perfect timing, Ava, because I’m working on some back cover copy right now – not my favorite part of the job.

    I really like your idea of distilling what the book’s about to a couple of sentences highlighting the story’s romantic tropes, early on in the writing process. I would think doing this might help retain focus during those times I feel like my story is clattering off the tracks!

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    • >>I would think doing this might help retain focus during those times I feel like my story is clattering off the tracks!

      Yes–it definitely helps me.

      Hope your back cover copy comes out great!

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  8. I find that having the blurb beforehand keeps me on track. Great post, Ava. You could get a second job writing blurbs. You new book sounds so interesting!

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  9. Liz Talley says:

    Hmm. You know I never thought about doing this but it makes perfect sense. It’s coming up with a marketing plan (or at least a semi-marketing plan) before writing the book. I love this idea. I’m going to try it for the next book, and that way, I will keep in the forefront the actual hooks that will suck readers in as I write the dang thing.

    Perfect!

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