Monday, September 9, 2013

Why you shouldn't ask me to describe my own book

Several weeks ago, the good folks at Coliloquy asked me to submit a description for my novella they're releasing October 8. You may recall, Coliloquy is the publisher known for interactive fiction, which in the case of my Getting Dumped series, is sorta like a grown-up version of choose-your own adventure.

You would think the author of the series should be uniquely qualified to write a description of the latest release. You would think is the key part of that phrase, because I am abysmally bad at this. Blame it on the fact that I'm currently scrambling to keep up with scheduled releases at three different publishing houses (four novels and two novellas slated for release in a 12 month period, thankyouverymuch) or blame it on the fact that I suck at writing blurbs for my own books.

I'm inclined to think it's the latter.

In any case, this is what I turned in a few weeks ago:

Eager for a break following the drama GETTING DUMPED (which previous readers will remember fondly and new readers won’t miss), JJ and Lori head to Seattle for a fashion trade show. Their plans for a weekend of cocktails and sisterly bonding takes an unexpected turn when Lori discovers her panties missing from their hotel room. Determined to get to the bottom of it, the sisters set out to track down the thief with the help of some familiar friends and some wacky new acquaintances.

Not good. Not the worst thing I've ever written, but hardly what I want out there as the primary marketing copy for my next release.

Lucky for me, the Coliloquy team includes plenty of marketing-savvy folks who can string sentences together better than I can. On Friday afternoon, they sent me the following revised version of my blurb:

The Great Panty Caper 
JJ Shultz is torn between two hot men. So what’s a girl to do? Prolong the decision and escape to Seattle, of course! Especially when sister Lori invites her to a fashion trade show. 

But their plans for a weekend of cocktails and sisterly bonding go south when Lori’s panties disappear from their hotel room. It’s not just any pair of unmentionables – it’s Lori’s only prototype for a new product she’s almost ready to reveal. 

Determined to find Lori’s treasured trunks, the sisters set out to track down the thief, with the help of some friends at home, a few quirky new acquaintances, and a cat that can’t keep himself from shedding all over the evidence. 

What’s Cool from Coliloquy 
In The Great Panty Caper, Lori’s considering a weekend fling and you get to decide just how far she goes with tall, dark, and handsome. Dinner and flirting, or more? It’s up to you! In the meantime, JJ needs a little help figuring out which of her boyfriends to call for some sleuthing tips. Can she resist the urge to phone her hot English man? Or will the all-American hunk fulfill her needs?

The whole thing made me dance with joy, because it's so much better than what I'd written. It also made it clear they totally GET what this story is about and how to market it.

It got me thinking about whether authors are sometimes too close to their own stories to write good blurbs. Is that the case, or like I said – do I just suck at it?

Either way, here are a couple more examples of what I originally wrote for a couple of my stories, followed by the version the publisher developed:

For Eat, Play, Lust (my new novella with Entangled)

My version
Cami Pressman is a yoga instructor with a secret. It’s not a prison record or gang tattoo—it’s worse, at least in Cami’s opinion. 

Her lust for junk food puts her at odds with her health nut mother, not to mention her own goal to never again be the overweight girl she was in college. Still, Cami can’t shake her craving for sinful, mouthwatering wickedness in the form of…well, tater tots. Hey, a girl’s gotta have vices. 

When Cami meets Paul Hammond, her lust for junk food isn’t the only thing making her tingle. Paul is a gourmet chef with a crush on Cami and a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. He’s looking to score some fitness tips, and maybe a date with his hot instructor. But is there any hope for something serious between a goofball with a golden skillet and a girl with a serious case of junk food lust? 

Or is serious the last thing they need?

Their version
Cami Pressman is a yoga instructor with a lifelong secret love of junk food. Not even an irresistible man can replace the mouthwatering wickedness of her favorite foods. 

Until, that is, Paul Hammond signs up for her class. He’s a gourmet chef looking to score some fitness tips, and a date with Cami. Suddenly Cami’s lust for junk food isn’t the only thing making her tingle. 

When this sinful chef and hot yoga teacher eat, play, and lust together, they just might bring their obsession to a new level.

For Believe it or Not  (my last romantic comedy with Sourcebooks) 

My version: 
It’s your typical “reluctant fake psychic” meets “jaded owner of a male strip club” love story. With a twist.
Violet McGinn doesn’t believe in psychic powers. That’s one thing she has in common with Drew Watson, the infuriatingly hot owner of the bar next door to Miss Moonbeam’s psychic studio. There’s just one problem – Miss Moonbeam is Violet’s mother. And for the next few weeks, Violet must fill mom’s shoes at the psychic studio.
Drew can’t figure out who’s nuttier – Miss Moonbeam, or her gorgeous daughter trying desperately to live the normal, straight-laced life mom never gave her. The one thing he knows for sure is that he doesn’t need another type-A female meddling with his life, career, or heart. So why can’t he get her out of his head?
Before Drew and Violet know what hit them, they discover that while normal may be nice, weird can be wonderful. Even worse, there just might be something to this psychic crap after all…

Their version: 
Do you believe in...accounting? 
Numbers never lie, so Violet McGinn found safe haven in the most boring profession she could find. Until her renowned psychic mother lands in the hospital and Violet has to run her business. Now you can have your taxes filed and your aura read, in one convenient location. 

Do you believe 
Drew Watson is the jaded owner of the local hot spot next door, and doesn't need a single thing except a good crowd to dance to what he's spinning on Saturday night. 

Do you believe 
The only thing Violet and Drew seem to have in common is that neither believes in that psychic hoo—hah. Except Drew seems to play exactly the right song at exactly the right time. And truth be told, it makes Violet's heart dance just a little ... 

Pretty different, huh? What do you think of the two versions? Am I the only person fascinated by the differences between how an author describes his/her work and how the publisher does it? Please share!


Unknown said...

Where do I get me some great marketing copywriters like that. I have the same problem!

Skye said...

Wow, big differences. But it does show that whoever it is writing the blurb copy gets the books. Maybe your first attempts helped them to get to the better, finished versions?

I do think maybe writers are too close to their work to do it well. We pick out all the details we think are important, which is most of them. The marketing folks then edit it down to the truly most important details.

It was great seeing the differences. Thanks for sharing those.

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