Copy Writing Part 1: Introduction


There’s a lot of psychology that goes into how we receive messages and which message will motivate us to take action.

Take into account the environment where your message is encountered. Each has a unique personality that goes with the medium and a ‘reader patience threshold’. Our media saturated brains want to process information faster and craves bullet points and directness. As related to writing, I’ve grouped ad copy outlets into two categories:

Book Jacket/Back Cover copy/Online Book page (point of purchase)
You have about 5 minutes to convince a potential reader to buy your book. They may be reading the copy online on your author page or inside a book store. You have a hook at the beginning of your novel to reel in your reader; you need a hook in this copy to pique their interest.

Twitter & Social Media
140 Characters and that’s it. Luckily, you can send multiple tweets and build up a profile of your work. Even so, you need to be compelling and interesting. You may hold a reader’s interest 2 minutes. If the message works, they’ll click a link and spend much longer than that on your website or point of purchase site. Same with Facebook and similar social media: if you’re updating on a regular basis and entertaining, you’ll build a loyal following.

Tease & Entice: How do you shape the message?
This is where I step back to my writer/producer role and you become my client. My first question to you is what is your goal? Understanding the end goal up front helps you work backwards to a starting point for your promotional efforts, then you build in the steps to get you from here to there.

Identify what is unique about you and your work. You want to be fresh and differentiated from the masses shouting for attention. You want to present that in a way which is also fresh and differentiated.

Copy writing is powerful because it is precise. You need to make every word in every sentence earn the right to be there. Use words that carry double duty by being active, descriptive and mood setting. When you think what you have written is fairly tight, go back and cut some more. The bones of the message should be there, not the flesh which is what you deliver in the novel.

Don’t be afraid to tweak and test. There are many tools available to measure click-through on tweet links so you know right away if your message works. When you find something that resonates, tweak it for another medium, perhaps a Facebook update, or blurb on a forum signature line. Expand on it and test it on your book page.

Advertising is a growing, changing, moody animal. What worked for a particular company 50 years ago may still work today and in the same breath, what is hot today may be irrelevant tomorrow. Know your audience, put yourself in their place and think hard about what would make them want to read your work.

Next Time
Copy Writing Part 2: Copy Writing for Your Book Cover

This will concentrate on how to pull the best from your novel to make your jacket copy as compelling as possible.


(I’ve spent over 20 years working in media with 13 of those in advertising. My producer credits range from 30 minute programming for sports franchises to award presentations, Internet marketing and thousands of television commercials. I’ve learned a lot over the years, mostly how to listen to my clients. After all, it is the client (aka YOU) that knows their product the best. Now, go write something.)

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About Judith Gaines

I enjoy the following (in no specific order): Harney & Sons ParisTea A stack of good books Slow walks through art galleries Hiking in areas with no cell phone reception Discovering new cities Playing Reversie and Mancala with my daughter Watching college football with my husband- Go Pack! Baking anything that has lots of sugar and butter ........ and writing View all posts by Judith Gaines

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