Beginning with the first class of DIY Publishing, we will encourage writers to introduce their books with the prompt “Tell us who you are and what you book is about.” With each session, this introduction will become more natural and polished as we help writers find the right words to attract maximum interest from readers.
Here are some ideas we will introduce to help you develop a great answer to this simple but important question:
“So, what’s your book about?”
For a writer immersed in solving problems in a work in progress, this question can cause a deer-in-the-headlights moment. Don’t freeze! Begin with the basics—explain the shelf on which it belongs:
… It’s a novel | memoir | biography | inspirational … story about …
In what world? Place your story in time and space, with color:
In a dystopian future when … | In a Seventies-era Idaho mountain commune … | In the Troubadour world of southern France …
What’s the problem?
Most fiction and narrative nonfiction involves a protagonist with a challenge—or an approaching catastrophe. Describe the story as a challenge using energetic, feeling-rich words. But this isn’t a book report. Your potential reader wants to learn the story challenge, not the solution. If you are writing nonfiction, describe the problem you will solve for the reader with the information you provide; for instance, “My book helps people who are constantly busy slow down and enjoy the natural rhythms of time.”
What makes your readers care?
Instead of focusing on theme, consider these questions: How will readers feel at the end? What will they learn? For fiction and narrative nonfiction, describe the protagonist in a way that helps the reader become intrigued by the story’s challenge. In his advice on writing pitches, super-agent Donald Maass suggests using specific words—love, heart, dream, journey, fortune, destiny—in the last sentence of your pitch. Try this. It may seem corny, but it will get you moving in the right direction, toward the feeling of resolution or insight you want the reader to experience.
Make it shine!
Pretend you’re applying your best editorial skills to someone else’s work. Make the words breathe and sing. Perk up the nouns and set fire to the verbs. And make it no more than 200 words, include genre or category tags and related keywords.
Each of the DIY Publishing classes can be taken separately, or you can sign up for all six. In the first session, we focus on your goals and skills and the wide range of options available for self-publishing. In the second class, we focus on how your book fits into the marketplace and where you will find readers. Subsequent sessions focus on working with editors, designing the book (including the cover), formatting your manuscript for print and eBook formats, and considering your publishing venture as a business. And in each session throughout this series, we’ll work with you to hone your professional and deeply considered answer to that probing question: So, what’s your book about?
To register, call Hugo House at 206-322-7030 or register online.
If you still have questions, contact either Waverly Fitzgerald (Waverly@WaverlyFitzgerald.com) or Annie Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org).