By far, the hardest couple hundred words of a book for me are all in the blurb. The hardest handful are in the title. Copy-writing, the art of selling with words, is not my genre. But I’m trying to get better at it.
Recently I ran across a fun new concept – the Emotional Marketing Value of words. The idea is that some words are just better at yanking people’s chains than others, and persuading them to buy. Or read. Or whatever you’re trying to persuade them to do. I even found a tool for this, for rating possible headlines:
(You need to enter 4-20 words. Pad out with “a” or “the” as needed.)
I’ve been plying this new learning snippet to try to write the title and blurb of Calm Act Book 3. And what I’m noticing is that my decades of tech writing experience are fighting me. The grail of tech writing is to be succinct, clear and objective. But in a blurb, the goal is to tell a little story so evocatively that you lure the reader into wanting more. That’s not easy, especially for novel-length science fiction, where world building and character development make 200 words practically haiku.
So my first stab at a blurb headline was “Pittsburgh Has Gone Rogue”. My tech-writing instincts are delighted – clear and succinct. It conveys information. The emotional marketing value, however, is zero, zilch, zip. Of course, I played with the EMV headling tool already for a couple hours trying to select a title for the book, so I’ve collected phrases that score high. “Martial Law vs. Religion Run Amok” rates 67%.
I still think “Pittsburgh Has Gone Rogue” is more intriguing, but hey, my sales copy needs work, so applying EMV is worth a try.
If you’re interested in Calm Act book 3 (Martial Lawless, or City of Sorrow, or Pittsburgh Steel, or Tornado Alley East, or whatever I end up calling it), I could use more beta readers, so drop me a line! It’s about half-written at this point. (Yes, the third book was half-written before I published book 2 – beta reading is a hold-up.) See my latest attempt at blurbage haiku here.