You've written and edited your book, you got your summary down pat, and your synopsis is in good shape. everything is formatted. So what's next? It's time to get started on your pitch.

Before we get into making a synopsis that pops, I have some marketing mantras I want you to start thinking about, that will be covered in further lessons.

To sell a book you must:

- Market yourself
- Market your book
- Market your brand

Don't worry, you're about to learn how to be much smoother than this dude



These are all separate things. We've covered the start of branding yourself, and we'll get to the final steps soon of that and marketing yourself. Now that we're in marketing your book gear-up mode, let's start creating a brand, and the right synopsis is a great exercise for it.

You'll be doing two things in this step:

1) Creating a synopsis to sell and harvesting your blurb and catchphrase from
2) Creating your brand

So let's start with this question: What genre is this book? It should be clearly defined...within reason. It's okay to break genres a little, but to sell your book you have to pick one dominant genre. If you have not done this...how the fuck did you get to this step? Seriously, those books you had to read was the step where your dominant genre had to be selected and you've already tailored your summary to fit it. So let's start with the genre. 

By now you know the dominant genre and you should know what the hot sellers are. Is it young adult with romance? Romance with mystery? Political thriller with action/adventure? Figure it out and write that shit down. If you notice more cursing than usual, it's to show how serious this step is.

Now get specific. List the hallmarks of the genre and the hall marks of the subgenre (using an example from above the genre would be romance, the subgenre mystery). If you don;t know the hallmarks, simply click here to see them listed nicely for you.

Now, pick your hallmarks and memorize them. That will be important to your synopsis. However, take a step back. Few writers stick to one genre alone. I, for example, write mystery, romance, erotic romance, science-fiction, and fantasy. Write down the hallmarks of all of those. Once you have all these hallmarks, set them aside for the moment, go back to the ones for this book you're working on.

If you've done your homework, finding the needle should feel like this


Open up your synopsis. Look at the first sentence. The first sentence should convey who, what, why, and genre. Here is an example:

Mary Catherine is a thirtysomething lawyer whose latest case embroils her in deep political intrigue when she agrees to defend an innocent man accused of murder

What genre is that? Well, if this is your first time you might say "Could be crime, thriller, mystery, or action." If you are very well read or have worked in the publishing world you'd say "thriller," and if you're a smartass you'll say "Thriller!" and do the dance. and if you don't know the Thriller dance, go watch Michael Jackson's video, it's the greatest music video of all time, kids.

Now, who reads a synopsis? At an agency or publishing house it's an intern. Usually unpaid, logging long hours, they will only pass on 1% of what they see to their boss. We're trying to dazzle them and make it to the 1%. otherwise reviewers, and usually it's the same: some poor soul who sees the same thing over and over. You have to stand out.

I know the idea you just had...and that is why no one accepts walk-ins, only emails and postage LINK



How would that example read if it was a political thriller?

Mary Catherine is a lawyer representing Martin Allen a man accused of murder, but the evidence points to a corporate conspiracy framing him.

What about mystery?

Mary Catherine is a thirtysomething lawyer whose latest case defending a murder suspect reveals he may be innocent, and she must find the real murderer to save his life.

Or crime?

Defense lawyer Mary Catherine is a defending a man accused of murder whose case will take her deep into the underworld where not everything is as it seems.

These are subtle differences. It's going to take some practice. How do we do the practice quickly? Go onto Amazon or another bookseller. Look at the top 10 sellers in the genre. Read their blurbs. Look at the structure of the first sentence. Once you get the pattern go and write your own.

Great, you're almost there! Next, look at the hallmarks of the genre that apply to your story. Let's say we have a mystery with romance. Now we have to change that first sentence to include the romantic elements. But remember this above all else!: GENRE COMES FIRST, SUBGENRE AFTER

So here it is a mystery with romantic elements:

Thirtysomething lawyer Mary Catherine is is defending murder suspect Martin Allen who may be innocent, and she must find the real murderer to save his life and discover if their growing attraction is a real or a manipulative ploy.

Here it is a romance with mystery:

Mary Catherine is a thirtysomething lawyer with a solid, staid life tasked with defending the mysterious and magnentic private detective Martin Allen who may be innocent, but in the midst of their attraction she must help him find the real killer.

Again, try to find books that have the same genre and subgenre combination as yours and read the blurbs until you find the pattern. Generally the first line of the blurb is either the same or a very slight variation of the synopsis as we'll soon see.

Okay, now you have your first sentence. It's the hook. So much of your marketing will be based on this. Edit it until it feels perfect. This one line will carry so much weight, it is the one thing that must leave your hands perfect from the start.

Don't worry, you'll get time to further explain your genres. Otherwise, it might look like this


Now, to finish your synopsis, do a quick calculation of your genre and subgenre from your manuscript. Using the example of a mystery with romance, let's say it's 60% mystery and 40% romance. Or it could be 90% mystery and 10% romance. What's the difference? In 60/40 Mary and Martin fall in love but she';s reasonably sure he's honest and innocent. In the 90/10 Martin seduces Mary and she's never truly sure if he's innocent, and if the seduction is a ploy.

Get specific, as specific as you can. Math is your friend! Now, your synopsis needs to convey the balance. If it's 60/40 the synopsis should explain the events, but 60% should focus on the mystery, 40% on romance.Color code them as your work and go over it as many times as you need to achieve this balance.

Once your synopsis reads like Cliff's Notes on plot, the first sentence explains the protagonist(s) and genre/subgenre, and the balance of genre/subgenre is covered, spell check and set it aside.

Let's take a break and return to branding. How does this book fit into your brand? That's what we want to know first. Is it the genre you will write most, or the genre you love the most? Either is fine, but if it doesn't fit either, why are you writing it? If you're writing it just to make money...you'll never make any. This has to be about love and passion: your  love and your passion for the book.

This first book will be the first look the world at large gets of you. It should define your brand in some way. How does it relate? Well, here are the elements of your brand:

- The subjects you write
- The style of your writing
- Your personality
- The quality of all your products
- The message you want to convey

You have to know these things cold. You can't market yourself without them. Ask yourself what these things are. For example, here are mine:

- The subjects you write: Mystery, erotic romance, urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, crime, romance
- The style of your writing: Conversational, noir, first and third person, humorous, descriptive, character-driven
- Your personality: Sarcastic, bossy, Type-A, anal retentive, pragmatic, silly, intelligent, funny, passionate
- The quality of all your products: Mid grade (not trash, but not the Great American Novel either)
- The message you want to convey: Strong women/feminism, strong characters, social consciousness, independence, drive, attention to detail, transparency

Now, these are the things to remember, the basis for everything you'll do in the future. Is there a central or core theme/statement you can make of this? Oh, yeah. What does it cover? Here's mine:

I'm an average girl and passionate writer who wants to open the world to the art and pleasure of strong women in fiction.

:
How I appear in my paltform

The real me (drunk and imitating midget strippers)



That's my marketing statement, not a concrete reflection of who I actually am. You will have your own and it will not be the same. Please, for the love of god, don;t just copy mine. Mine focuses more on me and my message, your may focus more on your writing. whatever it is, there is no wrong/right here. Just figure it out, and make sure one part of it contains something central to your writing.

Back to your synopsis: does it reflect your marketing statement? For example, strong women is a key component to me, so I have to make sure my women are strong and my synopsis reflects that. Just make sure the component of your marketing statement about your writing is reflected. Inferred, not directly expressed.

The elements of your brand should be in your writing, on your website and social media, they should be the central themes for this. Your author platform should show it. This website, for example, focuses more on showing my passion, intellect, and humor as well as transparency and promoting my messages.

By now you have the basics of your brand and you know the place this book holds. The synopsis is the first thing people really see of the book, so it is the messenger of your brand. Make sure the synopsis reflects this. It should be in the writing already, a subconscious process but the synopsis has to scream it.

Now, everyone has to do these steps. If you're sending this off to an agent or directly to a publisher, go on to the next lesson if you like, but the following is great for getting marketing tools (including your query letter). Indie authors, self publishers, stick with me.

Trust me, this is not where you use such shortcuts


A blurb is the description on the back of your book. Indie authors have to write this themselves. To start open up your synopsis once more, copy and paste it into a new document. We'll work from the new document.

How is a blurb structured?


The first sentence should inform the reader who the protagonists are, what genre it is, and the setting.

Mary Catherine is a defense lawyer whose latest client P.I. Martin Allen is many things: dangerous, alluring, charged with murder, and quite possibly innocent.

The protagonists are listed, the genre (in this example romance), and the setting can be inferred. A female lawyer implies we're dealing with 1975+ so it's modern.

The first paragraph should have the next sentences conveying the pace of romance (erotic is faster than straight romance for example), more details on basic plot, the sub genre, and the antagonist, and end with a suggestion or question. Here it is together as an erotic romance:

Mary Catherine is a defense lawyer whose latest client P.I. Martin Allen is many things: dangerous, alluring, charged with murder, and quite possibly innocent. Irresistibly drawn to the tall, dark, and handsome detective Mary Catherine surrenders to passion as danger grows. Accused of shooting an off duty cop, the only witness has gone missing and the evidence shows a pattern of a set-up. When clues point to a professional mob assassin, the danger grows as a guilty verdict means certain death.

Let the exact wording reflect your story and your style, but see how we get more details, the subgenre of mystery, the culprit, the antagonist, and a suggestion (action oriented race against time)?

Onto the next paragraph. Here we return to conflict! You should know the major conflict by heart, but if you're overwhelmed go back to your conflict outline where it is clearly marked. The second paragraph should include further details, major conflict, and the final sentence (we'll cover in a moment) will be a question of the most major conflict. Here is a second paragraph without the last sentence:

With a short trial expected Mary Catherine and Martin work feverishly to piece together the clues. But the sworn bachelerotte risks not only her life in the venture but her heart. Martin knows his life hangs in the balance, but he can't resist the fiery redhead when his case rouses all her passions. Evading assassins, cops, and the most determined D.A. the trail leads down a dark path they might not survive.

This is why we get descriptive: just saying WOMAN, MURDER MYSTERY evokes different images to different people


From that what conflict can we infer?

- Mary Catherine is commitment phobic, yet being drawn into a relationship
- Martin is being distracted from the fight of his life by the attraction
- The powers that be believe Martin guilty though we believe him innocent
- The odds are stacked against the pair

Notice anything about the conflict? EVERY CONFLICT INCLUDES SOME MENTION/REFERENCE TO THE GENRE: (romance). Got it? EVERY CONFLICT INCLUDES SOME MENTION/REFERENCE TO THE GENRE. That is how you build the second paragraph (let's try for two. If you must do three make the second a mix of the first and last, but really try for two unless the plot is very complex).

Now we come to the last sentence.What is the major conflict? In this case it is: can Mary Catherine save Martin's life and their love? It's the MAIN PLOT of your story boiled down to a simple sentence. But we have to fancy it up. Make it a question, the idea is to answer it, the reader must read the book. Here's ours:

As the clock ticks can Mary Catherine find the killer in time to save Martin, or will their passion die with an innocent man?

Okay, we're not done yet! Let's piece it together:

Mary Catherine is a defense lawyer whose latest client P.I. Martin Allen is many things: dangerous, alluring, charged with murder, and quite possibly innocent. Irresistibly drawn to the tall, dark, and handsome detective Mary Catherine surrenders to passion as danger grows. Accused of shooting an off duty cop, the only witness has gone missing and the evidence shows a pattern of a set-up. When clues point to a professional mob assassin, the danger grows as a guilty verdict means certain death.

With a short trial expected Mary Catherine and Martin work feverishly to piece together the clues. But the sworn bachelerotte risks not only her life in the venture but her heart. Martin knows his life hangs in the balance, but he can't resist the fiery redhead when his case rouses all her passions. Evading assassins, cops, and the most determined D.A. the trail leads down a dark path they might not survive. As the clock ticks can Mary Catherine find the killer in time to save Martin, or will their passion die with an innocent man?

How do we edit? In this case, eliminate anything that repeats by removing it or rewording it. None here, but you might have some, so fix them.

Next, are there any contradictions? Yes! In the first paragraph we don;t know if Martin is innocent, in the second we do. If this a romance first and foremost, go with we know he's innocent (his guilt or lack thereof is NOT the driving conflict we can see from the final sentence). In that case, change the first line to:

Mary Catherine is a defense lawyer whose latest client P.I. Martin Allen is many things: dangerous, alluring, charged with murder, and innocent.

Lastly, remove any proper names from any sentence that is not the first and last. First should have first and last names. Last sentence should have first names. So now we have:

Mary Catherine Simmons is a defense lawyer whose latest client P.I. Martin Allen is many things: dangerous, alluring, charged with murder, and innocent. Irresistibly drawn to the tall, dark, and handsome detective As she surrenders to passion, danger grows. Accused of shooting an off duty cop, the only witness has gone missing and the evidence shows a pattern of a set-up. When clues point to a professional mob assassin, the danger grows as a guilty verdict means certain death.

With a short trial expected they work together feverishly to piece together the clues. But the sworn bachelerotte risks not only her life in the venture but her heart. He knows his life hangs in the balance, but he can't resist the fiery redhead when his case rouses all her passions. Evading assassins, cops, and the most determined D.A. the trail leads down a dark path they might not survive. As the clock ticks can Mary Catherine find the killer in time to save Martin, or will their passion die with an innocent man?

And we're done with the blurb! Spell check that fucker and you're done!

Sit the fuck back down! we're not finished yet!


Now to the catchphrase. The catchphrase will appear in your query and in most marketing, Hell, even Smashwords asks for one. To build it, take the first and last sentence of your blurb and the first sentence of your synopsis. we have:

Mary Catherine is a defense lawyer whose latest client P.I. Martin Allen is many things: dangerous, alluring, charged with murder, and innocent.

As the clock ticks can Mary Catherine find the killer in time to save Martin, or will their passion die with an innocent man?

Mary Catherine is a thirtysomething lawyer with a solid, staid life tasked with defending the mysterious and magnentic private detective Martin Allen who may be innocent, but in the midst of their attraction she must help him find the real killer.

The trick here is to find the commonalities of all three. In our case:

Mary Catherine: defense lawyer
Martin Allen: P.I. charged with murder, innocent
A set-up
A capital murder case
A passionate attraction (both are quite attractive)

Let's start with writing these things out in a logical sentence. This can be sloppy, it's only a place to start:

Attractive and mysterious P.I. Martin Allen is an innocent man accused of murder and defended by attractive attorney Mary Catherine Simmons who fall into mutual, passionate attraction as they investigate the real culprit.

Pretty dull, right? Now, let's boil that down and add something. Let's extract the genre, the who, the what, and create the so what? "So what?" is the reason to read, it's "so why am I reading this?" If it's a romance, the answer is "to enjoy an elaboriate and dramatic sexual fantasy." Let's not kid ourselves here.

Genre? Erotic romance
Who? Mary Catherine, lawyer, and Martin, P.I.
What? Defending his life
So what? Bonin'

Now what is a punchy line to describe these concepts? Whatever it is, it must express three of those four things, and buzzwords are good (think of words that evoke a sensation, passion, lust, desire are good ones). Here are some examples:

Between innocence and guilt, passion hangs in the balance
A lawyer with a passion for justice,  a P.I. with the ultimate mystery, the case of a lifetime...
An affair of the heart is a case of life or death
An innocent man accused, a sinister coverup, burning desire...
Surrendering to desire may be the key to freedom...

We only wish it was THIS easy
It can be whatever you want. I try to write what I could image hearing as the first line a movie trailer. whatever it is, long or short (shorter is better) memorize it backwards and forwards.

You're done with this step. Next, we wrap up writing 104 when we're creating/edit raw materials and starting marketing with finalizing your platform to meld with this book, and then we're on to Writing 105, the conclusion where you'll learn how to format your book and sell it indpendently, or market the hell out of it to agents and publishers.

Until then, happy writing!