August 10, 2013

Copywriting for the Rest of Us

I picked up Copywriting for the Rest of Us free last night and read it this morning. It’s short but useful. Although it’s not targeted specifically at authors, I recommend it to authors who need to write blurbs or queries. In other words, all authors with a book to publish.

Coincidentally, I just read this advice again, in a different source. This book is on copyrighting (writing ad copy), and it’s free on Amazon right now (Aug 10): Copywriting For The Rest Of Us (Marketing For The Rest Of Us)  –

One of the things he says is the “best” way to learn copy is to write out other people’s ads word for word. It both teaches and inspires.

This sounds crazy, but it’s true. I first learned this technique from a book on writing sentences: To actually copy, word for word, a sentence or a scene of a writer whom you admire. The logic: we remember admiring a clever sentence, we remember the way a beautiful passage made us feel, but we forget the mechanics of how it happened. So when we go to copy it, we end up doing a clumsy job.

If you actually copy the sentence/paragraph out word for word, you have intimate knowledge of how it was done, and you are actually “doing” it.

The next step is to copy the form of the sentence but change the content to your own — but keep verbs, adjectives and nouns in place.

I tried this technique with a few of the most beautiful, and to me, emotional scenes from my favorite books, and was amazed at how much the author HADN’T said. One of my problems is overwriting, I think, trying to spell out exactly what the reader should feel… this was not the right approach at all. This method helped me see that in a direct way.

Now, the weird thing is that even though I knew about this method for writing scenes and sentences, I still NEVER thought to apply it to writing blurbs, those book descriptions you put on the back of a paperback or in the book description on Amazon. And yet, I always struggle and sweat to write blurbs. DUH, this is something to practice by cooing other authors. I knew that. At one point. But I forgot. This book on copyright writing reminded me that this same technique is important for all the “secondary” kinds of writing we authors must do — queries, blurbs, reviews, even blog posts.

If you want help writing your blurb  copy good blurbs of good books. If you’re self-publishing, this is really important. I’ve seen many good indie books with horrid blurbs that don’t sell the book at all. If you’re trying to snag an agent and a big publisher, this is also great for practicing query letters, since a query is basically formed around a blurb about your book.

I believe it’s still free, so hurry and grab your copy right now.

You might also want to visit Mike Shreeve’s website. He has lots more on Facebook ads, videos, increasing your rank on social media sites all that juicy promotions stuff that we writers hate but need to learn.  🙂

Tara Maya

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