Saturday, September 21, 2019

Write Your Book Blurb with C. E. N. A.

Uploading your book to Amazon KDP requires a description otherwise known as the book blurb.  For us writers this can be a daunting task despite the reality we just wrote a novel of 75,000 words.  And if you have a publisher and think I don't need this, guess again.  Even writers with book contracts need to come up with the dreaded blurb.

Copywriters use a formula called AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. The ads go something like this...

Attention--an elderly woman lies on the floor and cries, "I've fallen and get up."

Interest--a narrator comes on and explains the benefits of medical alert systems.

Desire--the viewer/listener is presented with the reality of needing the alert system.  Either be safe or lie on the floor helpless for hours, days, and maybe die.

Action--call a toll free number and get the system.

So I came up with my own version for a book blurb which is really an ad to buy your book.  My system is CENA: Catchphrase, Essence, Need, Action.

Catchphrase, aka logline or tagline
Some memorable or catchy line to tag your book. Movies have always been good at this. Here are some favorites.

“In space, no one can hear you scream.” – Alien

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” – Star Wars

“Who ya gonna call?” – Ghostbusters

“Be Afraid. Be very afraid.” – The Fly

Capture the Essence of the Book
Basically, this is the summary. But here are some guidelines.
  • Teaser summary
  • A taste of the book's contents
  • What it is about
  • Conveys the genre or scope 
  • About characters (fiction)  or information (nonfiction)
  • Terse and to the point
Create a Need for the Book
This can be any real need or a tantalizing sentence to get the book. Even a "got to read" summary can do it. Here a few more thoughts. 
  • Summarizing statement
  • Why read this book
  • Importance
  • Gotta have the book moment
  • Desire to read the book
  • Sink the hook
Take Action
Bottom line: ask them to buy your book.

Here is the blurb for my book Penelope and Birthday Curse.

Sometimes birthdays can be deadly
(Catchphrase)

An isolated mansion in the country... Stranded in a snowstorm... Someone is murdered on Penelope's birthday. But who did it? Her gangster uncle on from the law... Or the Broadway actress who's us husband… Don't forget about the mob hit man hiding in the woods behind the mansion. 

A young fortune teller weaves a tale of a gypsy curse where three people will die. And it happens on Penelope's 13th birthday. While the adults bumble along, trying to discover the killer, Penelope sleuths with the help of her friends to find the culprit. It's a race against time before Penelope becomes the third victim.  (Essence)

If you want to survive your next birthday, don't miss Penelope and The Birthday Curse!!!
(Need)

Get your copy today!!!
(Action)

While the Amazon description of your book is meant to inform a potential reader, it is your sales pitch. Do as the advertisers do.  Use CENA to write your book blurb.



Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Writing Prompts to Get the Creativity Flowing

Feeling a touch of writer's block?  Need to kickstart the old keyboard action? Got the Parker pen in hand and nothing to write about? Try writing prompts!

Finish the Beginning

Take a story beginning and finish it.  Here is one I use from a class I teach in creative writing.

Mick slipped the revolver from his pocket, knocked at the door, and hoped no one was home. 

"My mother doesn't understand me," Malcolm said and dropped a shovel full of dirt onto the body in the hole.

The weather had been pleasant and mild, but now the air crackled with electric as thunder shook the house.

Agnes liked her men tall, handsome, and eager.


Cracked foundation, glass broken in the windows, brickwork stained from pollution and smoke, Hull House stood on the corner of North and Main like relic from a forgotten era.

Then what happens? You're the writer. Run with it

Grab Some Opening Nouns

Open a book you like (or not) and pick out some nouns on the page, assuming there is enough to go around. Else go the the next page or the previous page.  Here are some words from my book The Fortune Teller's Secret

Mantra  Brain  Problem Lady  Ice Cream

What can you write?

I repeated the mantra of my youth. "It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay."

But my brain said otherwise?  That was the problem.

I'd seen the lady outside the drug store earlier in the day.  She waited from someone and she seemed nervous, checking her cell phone repeatedly, chain smoking cigarettes.

I stopped at vendor truck selling ice cream.  Two kids walked away with orange push-ups.  I ordered two chocolate dip cones and offered one to the lady. "Something sweet always makes me feel better."

You get the picture. Run with it.

Writing Images

Grab a pic from the Internet. Find something that inspires you.. Here is something from Instagram I posted. Note the story does not have to follow the picture exactly. Just use it to get the juices flowing.



Circa 1908. Seven men from Lavenham, Suffolk, England excavated and entered the tomb of  Akhenaten, The Valley of the Kings, Egypt. The tomb bore a curse scribed over the entrance that the men ignored. Three of them died before leaving the mid-east.  The other four returned home with gold and artifacts. Over the next two years, two more members of the group died from a mysterious illness resembling malaria. The sixth man perished when a wagon in Chelsea, London, overturned and crushed him. The last man, Williams Mills, found his wife and infant son murdered, throats cut.  A bloody Egyptian dagger was found in bushes outside the house. 

These are just a few ways to get the creative juices flowing. 

BTW, connect with me on Instagram at @rondvoigts.


Read, Write,  Experience

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A Haunted House and A Grisly Murder


1927. Vanise, California.  Police discovered two women dead in the house, their hearts and livers removed. A jury trial found Dr. Arthur Lemke, the home's owner, guilty. He went to the gas chamber two years later. His last words: "I'm innocent." The house has remained empty since. Neighbors report lights and sounds coming from the house at night.  They insist it's haunted. 

Be a mystery writer.

Check out Writing the Killer Mystery: Great Beginnings (Book 1).



Get it at Amazon.



Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay