Saturday, August 11, 2007

WRITE TO SELL By Robert W. Walker

High concept ideas get you a read. If you have an eye-popping premise or "platform" or angle or twist no one's been crazy enough to ever think of before, you might get someone in the impossible world of publishing to take a peek. At which time the execution of the mad but wonderful idea that has sprung full-blown from your fevered, creative, passionate mind is either on the chopping block or the marketing block. Often the concept alone can get you through the door. A wild hair notion stated in a succinct and fascinating way. Once you have a fantastic idea for a novel, say a new twist on the old serial killer thing, one that say involves Child Protective Services and how miserably they have failed nationwide and say in New Orleans....then you have to couch it in the fantastical language you find on the back of all lurid paperbacks. This is called copy. For your pitch, you need to learn to write this exaggerated but informative style--that of the copy writer. Imagine, you are given the opportunity to write your own jacket copy....and do it. This becomes your pitch for the great idea lurking in your mind.

How best to learn the craft of the copy-writer? Read. Read every back copy you can. Read some for laughs, some for instruction, some for exercise and experience, and learn to mimic the style and purpose of this economical way of synopsizing your 80,000 words. Even bad copy does one thing--it informs the reader who the star of the story is--as in a name. Name names of characters, locales, and issues in the book. Name names of people, places and things. Use numbers if possible, stats and or dates and or other pertinent information as in aging sixty year old burnt out Detective George Detwilder Wisnewski, otherwise known among friends as GD Wiz, along with Somerset Dawes, another retired cop, team up to form the Dirty Old Harry Squad (working title of my current opus). Notice age is an important factor to the story; it's in the title. Notice the resonance of names and know that such precision is like taking digital photos that stick in the mind of the reader. The backdrop is modern day Chicago where the landscape can go from beautiful to bleak and dismal in the matter of a few blocks.

So when you are thinking of selling all those pages you have sweated over, couch your pitch in the language of the sales kings, the guys who write copy for books for a living. Guys who, unfortuantely, make more money off books than the rest of us.

Keep on Writing and Write to Sell --


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