Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Dreaded Novel Description

Jennifer Hudock, author of Goblin Market, is going to guest post about one of the most dreaded necessities of being an indie author. Writing the Novel Description. Jenny did a great description for her own novel so I think she has a lot to say about that. Thanks for being my guest, Jenny.

Jenny sez:

The dreaded novel description. It can make or break your novel. Not only does it give potential readers enough information about your book to entice them to click sample or buy, if you wrote it yourself it gives them some insight into your writing style. For those of us self-publishing, chances are you had no choice but to write your own description.

When I originally started on the path toward publication with The Goblin Market, I submitted through a small press publisher first. The submission process required a short elevator pitch in which the editors could learn everything they needed to know about my novel before reading the first 15 pages. If that pitch fell flat, they probably wouldn't even want to read that first 15 pages at all, so I struggled while putting it together.

I wound up self-publishing before I even heard back from the small press publisher, and when putting together the information about The Goblin Market on Amazon, Smashwords and B&N, I grabbed that elevator pitch and0 started to dissect it.

Could it be used in my product description? Was it too formulaic and dense? Would it be enough to draw interested readers to check out the sample?

There was only one way to find out: get some feedback. I passed my elevator pitch around to a few trusted friends and readers, and the overall response was positive. After a few tweaks and alterations, I added it, and there it was.

Since I published the novel, I've gotten some feedback and have since considered doing a few more minor tweaks, but I know that just like a novel sometimes we have to let go and let our readers decide. I think a good way to judge is to see how your sales go.

If after publishing and promoting for a few weeks, you aren't seeing a few sales trickle in, give it time, but don't be afraid to ask around. Cross-compare your own description to other popular novels in your genre and see how it stands up. Are the details juicy enough to pique curiosity without revealing too much story? Do you have misspellings? Are you missing a comma or a word somewhere? I know that might sound like I'm being a little mean, but we do it all the time and because we read and reread and reread, we miss them until someone else spots it.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your novel description, along with your cover art, are the first impression a reader will get of your book. If those two key items are enticing enough for them to click and sample, or even buy, it's going to make promotional efforts so much easier on your end.

J. R. sez: Thanks, Jenny. Excellent advice.

Addendum To make it easier to find Jenny and her excellent novel:

Jennifer Hudock is an author, podcaster and freelance editor from Pennsylvania. Her first full-length novel, The Goblin Market, is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. For more information about Jennifer Hudock, including updates on upcoming fiction, visit her official website: The Inner Bean.


Conan the Librarian™ said...

The title intrigues me; just what will be bought and sold in a Goblin Market...?

Eres said...

you forgot to include your description in this post! ;)

and a link to your book as well!

J. R. Tomlin said...

The link to her novel is at the top of the page where I give the title. I'll edit to add another link at the end. Don't want it to be hard to find!

She did forget to include the description so I'll post it. I believe the inspiration for the novel was the Rosetti poem "The Goblin Market". I remember the lines from that:

"Pricking up her golden head:
We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?"

Jenny's description is this:

Beyond the Goblin Market lies the remains of a lost and broken kingdom divided by war. The war has been over for centuries, but the kingdoms still stand apart, overrun by a creeping goblin darkness known as the Darknjan Wald. It has been written that only one holds the power to destroy that darkness and reunite the kingdoms, but she has no memory of her former life.

Meredith Drexler must save her sister, Christina, from the wicked goblin king, Kothar, who has kidnapped the girl in order to convince Meredith to uphold an ancient commitment Meredith doesn't remember making. Sent Upland disguised as a human child, she has no recollection of her former faerie life, or her uncle's promised marriage betrothal to Kothar.

When she ventures back Underground in search of Christina, every step Meredith takes brings memories of her forgotten past back to the surface. As the pressures of her former life entangle with her quest to save her kidnapped sister, Meredith's predetermined fate is revealed. Will she embrace it, or walk away forever from a life she barely remembers as her own?

The title itself is intriguing. As Conan pointed out, "what would you buy at a goblin market?" He should buy the novel and find out!

Nicole said...

I love Jenny's description of The Goblin Market. But I'm biased since I love everything she writes.

And I admit, I'm not looking forward to writing one for my story. Short and sweet is not my forte.

Jenny said...

Ooh, I did forget to add the description. Thanks for posting it in the comments, Jeanne.

V. Furnas said...

Great description. Thank you for the great ideas. Strangely I had not thought of posting it on my blog for critiquing.

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