Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cover Copy

My latest learning experience as a soon-to-be published author has been in writing/editing cover copy for one's own book.  The lesson is this:

It's really fricking hard.

My fabulous (truly, she is wonderful, so colloborative, insightful, nice...) editor sent me her company's first stab at the copy for the front and back cover of my book, and invited me to give her my thoughts.  Now, I work in Hollywood by day, where writers get no say in the taglines for their TV shows.  Vast publicity and marketing departments determine how a film or show will be presented to the public, and as a writer you just sit there and are grateful you got paid to write the script.  So this was rather revolutionary to my way of thinking. Asking the writer's opinion?  On anything?  As a writer I have to say - Huzzah!

I liked a lot about the copy they sent me but because I'm so close to the material, I, of course, had opinions. Hey, I'm an opinionated person about most things. But about my book?? Puh-lease. I try NOT to think of it as my baby, but you get the idea...

I wrote them down. I tried to be more clever than the copy they sent. I read the back covers of tons of other books.

Okay, maybe not non-fiction books like this, but you see what I mean. I rifled through my library, focusing on YA books. Hard backs didn't help me much, since they often don't have any copy on the back. Also, everything on my Kindle was pretty useless for these purposes.  (Poor Kindle users don't get to see the pretty pretty covers or read the blurbs we writers work so hard to get!)  But fortunately for these purposes, I'm a total book hoarder.

But really, that wasn't very useful because there were infinite ways to approach writing back cover copy. Do you tell a bit of the story, naming the main characters, and being very explicit about the main conflict?  Here's the text of the back cover of the UK copy of GAME OF THRONES:

In the game of thrones, you win or you die.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must. . . and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split, and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyond the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.

Or do you show the conflict, but emphasize mostly emotion? Here's the back of Stephanie Meyer's YA blockbuster, TWILIGHT, with what I think is a masterful pitch on the back cover.

Or do you tantalize and tease, hoping to ensnare folks with just enough of a mystery that they want to find out more? Check out the back cover copy for Karsten Knight's new YA book, WILDFIRE:

I am the fieriest depths of hell

I am the surface of the sun.

I am the belly of a volcano.
I am the unstoppable force that
has formed new islands, and the
same unstoppable force that has
brought cities to their knees.

I am the volcano goddess who has
survived a thousand years.

I am Ashline Wilde, and I may
not survive another thousand
years, but I'll go down in flames
before I go up in smoke.

Intrigued?  That's what they're hoping.

I pretty much tore my hair out over the weekend trying variations of all three approches.  I reread most of my book, hoping to pick out useful quotes.  I consulted my critique partner, doubted everything I'd ever written, then kept going back to the thesaurus to make sure there wasn't a better word in there for "power" or "lurk" or "prowl." I ended up going for the more mysterious sort of copy.  My editor approved, but cleaned it up and made it much better, much less awkward. Now we think we've basically got it.  

Is it perfect? No.

Will you get to see it here right now?  Nope. Sorry. Not yet.  (Told you we went for the more mysterious/tantalizing type of copy.)

Will I think of a dozen other ways it could have gone?  Yep.

But I really do need to get to wrapping up my outline for book 2 so I can write the darned thing.  Can't dwell on stuff too long, or you go crazy and never get anything done.

But hat's off to the publicity and marketing folks who come up with this stuff. 'Cause it ain't easy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

'Ware the Apocalypsies!

Thanks to the brilliant Gretchen McNeil (have you read her book POSSESS yet? You must!) I've just joined a group of YA authors called The Apocalypsies, all whom have debuts just before and during 2012, the year to end all years...

Yet another example of how stunningly supportive and nice the YA writing community is. Seriously, the writers I've met (and editors, and agents) have all been nothing but kind and nice and all those words that sound so boring but are actually really great.

The writers are all really funny and talented too, but you already knew that.

My info's not up on the site yet, since this JUST happened. But I'm psyched!  I'll get to meet fellow writers as well as support them.  It's not very apocalyptic, but this is how I feel right now:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

National Feral Cat Day Coming Up!

Did you know that if you catch and kill all the feral cats in an area, that area just fills up again with cats?

But if you trap, neuter, and return those animals to that area, the population stabilizes, no new kittens are born, the lives of the returned, neutered cats are improved, and behaviors like yowling, mating, and fighting stop.

Yep, cats have been in the wild, living near humans for over 10,000 years.  They deserve to be respected as much as any other animal. Killing them doesn't work. Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR does. It's been well documented.  Don't believe me?  Check out Alley Cat Allies and learn.

This October 16 is National Feral Cat Day, promoting compassion for cats.

Oh, and cats aren't responsible for the lower numbers of songbirds and other resident species.  Human beings are. We need to use these big brains of ours to make the world safe for birds, cats, and people.  Together we can do it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vonnegut on Stories

A funny bit of writing advice from one of my favorite writers.

I'm outlining book 2 right now. This made me think perhaps I'm overthinking things a bit...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Giant Rubber Bunny Suits or What Not to Put in Your Biography

So I have to write my bio today, that thing that describes me on the back of my book.  Somehow, as soon as I heard that, my mind went completely blank, as if I knew nothing about myself.

Serious or silly?  Short, for sure. But just how boastful or loony should I be?  What, if anything, in my life, is really relevant?  What would folks actually care about?

This is a good problem to have, don't get me wrong. It's thrilling to think that info about me will appear on a book by me.  It's mind-boggling, in fact. But I find it hard to describe myself.  Tall, red hair, prone to using a long word when a short one will do...

A friend on Facebook suggested I do a bio from the POV of a tiger.  Very cool idea!  However, after writing something like: "Nina Berry smells like cantaloupe and single malt scotch," I thought better of it.

Another friend offered to write it for me. But I've known her since sixth grade, and she knows waaaaay too much about me.  I mean, we used to sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" after French in the most hideous high pitched tones and imagine certain teachers who shall remain nameless dressed in giant rubber bunny suits, for crying out loud.

Sigh.  Off to try to find a balance between giant rubber bunny suits and "I went to college in Chicago."  Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yes, it's September 11, ten years after, and I'm not going to turn on the TV.  I didn't watch much TV ten years ago either.  I went to work and worried.  I'm worried still.  I'm not even going to stay on the internet much longer. I need to write and move on and be present, not past.

It's a beautiful day here in Los Angeles. The gold sunlight is filtering through the vines that creep over my living room window. And because I'm in a bit of a mood I can't help remembering how Natalie loved those vines, and how Max used to bask in the puddles of sunshine. They're both gone now. And I'm here appreciating it for them.  Not much else we can do for those who have died and left their mark on us.

Back to work.

Friday, September 02, 2011

My Book's on Goodreads!

The news came to my Inbox thanks to a Google Alert, looking like this:

Web1 new result for "Nina Berry"
Nina Berry (Author of Otherkin)
Nina Berry is the author of Otherkin (0.0 avg rating, 0 ratings, 0 reviews, published 2012)
You can imagine how quickly I clicked on that link.  I have no idea how this happens, but my book just appeared on the Goodreads site, and people have already signed on as "to be read."

*Nina's Head Explodes*

God, I love the internet.

I have no idea if I should be doing anything to fill out the author info or anything.  I shall do my research.  Until then:  WOO HOO!

Nina Berry
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing


0.0 of 5 stars 0.00  ·  rating details  ·  0 ratings  ·  0 reviews
Nina Berry's OTHERKIN, in which a girl discovers she can shift into a tiger and is introduced into a world where people and objects aren't what they seem.
Expected publication: August 2012 by K Teen