Editing Tip Tuesday

25 buttonRecently I heard an author describe his book to a potential reader. And then I watched the reader’s face glaze over. It happened more than once. No one bought a book. What went wrong?

I’ll tell you. He never told the reader what his book was about, but he went on and on for several minutes. This may not be a traditional editing tip, like how many words you need for a thriller novel, (around 90,000 – 110,000) but once your book is published you have to sell it. No matter which publishing road you take. The author is always selling. And even before you sell it, you might be pitching to an editor or agent. You have to be able to tell others what your book is about.

In 25 words! Okay, I’ll give you one or two more, but it needs to be in one sentence. Have you heard of the elevator pitch? That’s what this is. Thirty seconds to tell someone what your book is about. Not five minutes like my author friend from earlier.

Here’s mine from my first book, Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo: A thirteen year-old boy was catapulted to the scariest place imaginable and has twenty-four hours to collect three mystical objects to save him and his two new friends.

That was twenty-eight words. Now, if I have a chance to explain more to my reader I can, but if I can’t, you get an idea what that book is about. It’s middle grade (thirteen year-olds), probably a fantasy (mystical objects and catapulted to the scariest place imaginable), has thriller like elements (twenty-four hours ticking time bomb), friendship (two new friends) I’ve told you a lot without making your eyes glaze over.

Ask yourself what the core of your book is about. Write it down. Or do you already have back cover copy? Does that truly reflect the essence of your story? Cut that down. But if you’re doing this for the first time write down your core message. Don’t worry about the word count yet. Then you’re going to put your editor hat on and you’re going to cut that message down. Keep the 25 word count in mind. Aim for that. Bounce it off your critique partners. Or other writer friends. You’ll know when you’re ready.

Any questions? I love to hear from you. Drop a line. Twenty-five words or less. 😉

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