Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  workshops,  Writing in Public

Sales Writing Problem

Sales Writing Problem

I want to talk for a moment about blurb writing. That is below in the topic of the night.

Today I spent all afternoon (after walking) to work on workshops, then all evening, and also into the night. Just one of those days. No real writing today. But I am hoping to finish the novel tomorrow or Friday. And fire on the next novel.

But I got over six miles in today on exercise.


Master Class Workshop.

Since I worked on workshops all day, I figured I might as well give a plug to a coast workshop happening here from October 15th to late on the 22nd.  We call it the Master Class.

It is eight days of morning, afternoon, and evening of learning every aspect of publishing that is happening. We will have eight or so professionals helping in one part or another with the teaching. It will be intense. Mark from Kobo will be doing some sessions and meeting with writers privately, Allyson will be doing private sessions on cover design and branding, and I will be doing private sessions on blurbs to help writer’s sales.

A ton of information, a lot of fun, and great networking.

And there are still five spots open. So if interested, write me. And please pass the word to those who might be interested. All the information is under the Coast Workshop tab above.


Topic of the Night: Sales Writing.

Over the last five days I have had the bad luck to actually have in my hand five different books I might have been interested in reading. Might have been, that is, until I read the sales copy on the backs.

Dull, passive, too long, confusing, and buried leads. Every book I saw.

And what annoyed me is that four of these books were from writers who should know better. Only one, a really bad one, was from a New York publisher.

My first point: If you are going to indie publish your work, learn how to write sales copy. You got away from New York where the sales copy was out of your control. So don’t do the same to kill your own book, folks. Take the control and learn it.

My second point: Passive and dull and all plot is bad for sales copy. I know you think that plot twist in chapter ten is cool, but it doesn’t belong in your blurb. Again, learn how to write sales copy.

A year ago now I spent a week or so here writing sales copy, talking about it, and then putting those blogs in a book that is for sale out there. And then Kris and I started an online class on how to write Sales Copy for your work. Almost no one has taken that class. (Only one person signed up in August and trust me, she’s going to get some great one-on-one attention from me for her sales copy.)

Ironic, head-shaking silliness.

A writer spends months and months writing a book. A writer takes craft and business classes to learn how to be a professional writer. Then when they put their book out to readers, they do a dull, passive, plot-laden blurb that pushes readers away.

And then the writer wonders why they don’t sell many copies.


If you aren’t selling many copies, might want to put your ego aside and actually look at your blurbs. And your covers. Just saying…

A New World

This is a new world, folks. You have to learn how to sell your work. And writing a decent blurb is an easy task to learn, the most basic, actually.

And the most important task in selling your book, right next to doing a cover that sells your work.

Yet so, so, so few writers bother. And that just makes me wonder why?

So let me wonder why aloud here… (snark warning)


1… Writer doesn’t realize that blurbs get readers to open books or put them down. (Clearly this writer has never bought a book in their entire lifetime.)

2… Writer thinks their blurbs are just fine, after all, it tells all the great plot points, one right after another. (Clearly this writer thinks plot sells books, again never having bought a book in their lifetime.)

3… Writer thinks the word “is” should be in a blurb because it is in their book. (This writer doesn’t understand the concept of active language which makes readers wonder how dull the book is as well.)

4… Writer is too lazy to learn how to write sales even though they know it is important. (This writer thinks it is easier to just complain about poor book sales than learn how to write a blurb.)

And that, folks, is me, once again, just having my nightly session of shouting into the wind.

And no, I will not read your blurb. Last thing I want is to make you angry at me. You can read my posts from last year and look at your own blurbs.

Or maybe I should set up a service to look at your book cover and blurb for a small fee per book. That way I can get paid for making someone angry. (Not happening, don’t even ask. My life is far, far too short already. But I will be helping writers at the master class on this.)

But let me give you a couple hints I gave last year (or you can learn how to fix in the blog posts, my book, or the sales workshop.)

  1. If your blurb contains plot from more than the first chapter of your novel, you are in trouble.
  2. If you can substitute the words… “and then this happened and then this happened and…(so on)” for your plot elements in your blurb, you are in trouble.
  3. If you have any of the verbs… is, was, has, will… (and so on) in your blurb, you are in trouble.
  4. If your blurb is a massive, long paragraph, or two, or three massively long paragraphs, you are in trouble.

Tags…? Got any?

Got any author information besides the fact you were born and love cats?

And so on and so on…

So, are your book sales not what you think they should be??  Then just maybe your actual sales tools are bad.

Your book might be great. But few people will ever read it in this modern world if you push them away.

Just saying…


September Online Workshops

Click the workshop tab above for description and sign-up or go to

Questions about any of the workshops, feel free to write me.

Class #21… Sept 6th … Author Voice
Class #22… Sept 6th … How to Write Thrillers
Class #23… Sept 6th … Speed
Class #24… Sept 6th … Writing Mysteries
Class #25… Sept 6th … Character Development
Class #26… Sept 7th … Depth in Writing
Class #27… Sept 7th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #28… Sept 7th … Cliffhangers
Class #29… Sept 7th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #30… Sept 7th …Expectations (Writing on the Rails)


The Writing of Freezeout: A Cold Poker Gang Novel

Day 1… 1,050 words.   Total words so far… 1,050 words.
Day 2… 2,850 words.   Total words so far… 3,900 words.
Day 3…   800 words.   Total words so far… 4,700 words.
Day 4…   4,700 words.   Total words so far… 9,400 words.
Day 5…   3,200 words.   Total words so far… 12,600 words.
Day 6…   3,100 words.   Total words so far… 15,700 words.
Day 7…   3,400 words.   Total words so far… 19,100 words.
Day 8…   3,500 words.   Total words so far… 22,600 words.
Day 9…   2,200 words.   Total words so far… 24,800 words.
Day 10… 2,100 words.   Total words so far… 26,900 words.
Day 11… 2,150 words.   Total words so far… 28,050 words.
Day 12… 2,300 words.   Total words so far… 30,350 words.
Day 13… 1,500 words.   Total words so far… 31,850 words.
Day 14… 4,400 words.   Total words so far… 35,250 words.
Day 15… 3,200 words.   Total words so far… 38,450 words.

Totals For Year 4, Month 1, Day 9

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,055

Over 10,000 steps streak… Day 40

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 15,650 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 500 words 

— Blog Posts: 1,200 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 5,300 words

— E-mail: 38 e-mails. Approx. 3,600 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 160 e-mails. Approx. 12,500 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers


— Year of Short Fiction Goal: 120 stories (July 1st to June 30th). Stories finished to date: 8 stories.

— Yearly Novel Goal: 12 Novels. Novels finished to date: 0 novels.


You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.


  • Gary Speer

    Dean, did you ever offer your book “How to Write Fiction Sales Copy” to your Patreon supporters? I remember getting the book about Heinlein’s rules — but I don’t remember you offering “How to Write Fiction Sales Copy” — nor “Writing a Novel in Seven Days” for that matter? Just want to make sure I didn’t lose track and miss something (like that mixup or glitch or whatever with Patreon recently).

    • dwsmith

      Gary, honestly don’t remember. I’ll check later tonight. Should have. I try to get Patreon supporters all non-fiction books and all Smith’s Monthly.

    • Gnondpom

      I didn’t get them either through Patreon. I didn’t notice since I’ve read those two books on your blog, so I didn’t feel the need to read them again, but now that Gary mentions it I haven’t gotten those books either.

      On the other hand, Heinlein’s Rules, Stages of a Fiction Writer and Writing into the Dark are on your Patreon (as well as Stories from July, which is as good for its non-fiction part as for the fiction part). And Smith’s Montly is very regularly updated, thank you.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Woo-hoo! Great stuff, Dean, thank you for the pointers! I did take the Blurbs and Pitches online course about 2 years ago, and it did me good, but not enough. Considering my production, plus blurb-doctoring for friends, twenty blurbs a year just isn’t enough practice. Maybe I should write my own blurbs for the books I like just for fun. For now, I’ll go through my blurbs with your 5-point list in hand and see what needs changing.
    One thing that’s highly frustrating for me is that I can spot these issues in other people’s blurbs, because I haven’t read their book yet, and I’m not close to the plot. With my books, I’m still too much in love with my plot elements, too close to it, and it’s often paralyzing having to decide how to summarize that huge vomitous mass of information. Thus, even when my writing flows, my blurbs sure don’t!

    • dwsmith

      Yup, we call that “the author problem” Kate. Got to kill that problem.

      What writers forget is that all the sales blurb needs to do is get them to open the book. The reader wants to read the book, not be told what is in the book in the blurb.

      So maybe another way of thinking about this in this modern world is click-bait. Writers need to think of their blurb as click-bait, to get readers to open the book and find the wonderful story.