My quest for the perfect ‘it’ and why

Whether it is called hook, logline, blurb, selling point, promo copy, or the old fashioned description, a writer needs to create something that entices, lures, snares, traps or otherwise induces the innocent to tap or click the buy button to download  the writers self published e-Book, a book that will enthrall, entertain, dazzle and delight. The writer needs the ‘it.’

In truth it is a calling card. Write a good description, one that shows some degree of writing ability and the potential reader is likely to make a purchase. If you write good copy then it follows the book must also be good. But writing that brief description is the hardest part of writing for many, myself included.

Over the past few years I have rewritten, edited, and changed the copy for all five of my books innumerable times and like the Great White Hunter of Bigfoot, my search continues. I revisit my descriptions to see what is wrong, how better can I make it. The following is an example for “Loonies in the Dugout.” 

The book is a fictional account of the mysterious Charlie Faust and how he influenced the Giants to win the pennant. His story is told through the eyes of rookie Chet Koski who is trying to woo chorus girl Eveleen Sullivan while trying to figure out big league pitching. A satire on fame and celebrity based on a true story in which Chet and Charlie meet Bat Masterson, George M. Cohen, Damon Runyon, and many others.

BORING.

I did not think so at the time, but with fresh eyes I see how dreadful it is. It is flat, matter-of-fact, does not engage, does not indicate a sense of style. I recently changed it to the following.

How does a 21-yeard old rookie off a Minnesota farm figure out how to hit big league pitching in New York when he is trying to woo chorus girl Eveleen Sullivan? Harder still when you find yourself becoming the guardian angel for the mysterious Charlie Faust who believes apple pie gives him pitching strength, even though he never pitches. Based on a true story about the 1911 New York Giants and the influence of Charlie Faust, featuring Bat Masterson, Damon Runyon, George M. Cohan, and the New York Giants of 1911.

Is it perfect.? No. But it is an improvement. It poses a question that engages the reader to think-however briefly. Within the first sentence it is indicated that this kid is in the big city, is trying to ‘figure out’ pitching and wooing, indicating perhaps a coming of age story. The next sentence indicates the kid is good guy because he is looking after a strange man, posing another question, a mystery of who this Charlie Faust is. Why does he love apple pie? Why does he think it gives him pitching strength-and he never pitches. And silly, yes maybe, but. . .it is based on a true story.

I think the second description is more colorful, less dry, more engaging. But of course, in a few months I may look at it and go “Yuck!”

But this is what writing is. Rewriting. And you are not stuck with your novel either. Yes, you can rewrite that as well. Mary Shelley did that with “Frankenstein” changing the nature of the good doctor and cutting a scene or two in a revised edition. Usually a writers first instincts are best and her original story is far superior.

But that is not true when searching for the perfect pitch to your novel.

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