Hey there writers! Today I’d like to discuss things that you need to have ready when submitting your manuscript, but many writers overlook. It’s easy enough to do, since we typically spend so much time polishing our work to perfection, but every item I’ve listed below is absolutely essential, if not for the initial query then for the final product.
Of note, these guidelines are for fiction projects. Nonfiction book proposals are a whole different blog post!
- A tag line, also called a hook or a log line – your book will need something catchy that draws the reader in.
- Front cover – while no one’s expecting you to send in cover mock ups–in fact, many publishers actively discourage it–you need to have a clear idea of how you’d like the cover to look. Otherwise, if the publisher asks you for suggestions and you reply that you’re cool with whatever they come up with, you might be stuck with an image that doesn’t properly represent your book.
- Back cover – the text on the back cover–usually referred to as the back cover matter or blurb–is your one page opportunity to convince a reader to pick up your book. It needs to be concise, interesting, and leave enough clues that the reader needs to read the book to find out what happens. It’s your first opportunity to make that all-important emotional connection with your reader.
There are many more items we could discuss, but these three items–tag line, front cover and back cover–are the meat of your final product. Now let’s see some of these concepts in action, using one of my books, Heir to the Sun, as an example. Below is the cover, tag line in bold, and the back cover matter:
A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm…
When Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her torment it nearly breaks her. Instead, she leads her fellow slaves to freedom. More prisons are scattered across Parthalan, and Asherah vows to burn them all.
Caol’nir, a warrior descended from the gods, is sworn to serve and defend the king. Then a priestess is murdered, and Caol’nir learns that Sahlgren is to blame. Determined to stop the king, sacred oath or no, Caol’nir joins Asherah’s rebellion.
What Caol’nir doesn’t know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman whose abilities are rumored to rival the sun god’s themselves…a woman Caol’nir knows all too well.
Now as to how the awesomeness we see above us came to be, I started with the tag line. I wanted something simmering with tension that would draw the reader in. As for the back cover matter, I wanted to give the reader the barest taste of the plot, and the core issues our heroes are trying to solve. And as for the amazing cover by Veronica Jones, I knew that I wanted an action scene, and I knew which characters I wanted to feature. I provided Veronica with the character descriptions, and gave her a few scenes to pick from, and voila!
There you have it, the three things I plot out long before my manuscript is complete. What work-ahead items are on your list – marketing, platform building, ordering swag? Tell us in the comments!
Heir to the Sun is currently on sale for 99 cents here: http://amzn.to/2cSkNSx
My next appearance will be at Bing Comic Con in Springfield, MA on October 22: http://www.bingcomiccon.org/
Sign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors!