Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Writer Delusion

There Are Numbers of Them…

But only going to talk about one at the moment. However, just like myths, writers have many, many delusions that hold them back.

Delusion: A fiction writer knows for a fact they can write good sales copy.

Reason for the Delusion: After all, they are fiction writers and it is their story.

Fact: I know of maybe a handful of fiction writers who know how to write good sales copy. And not one New York fiction editor.

But most writers have the delusion that they can write sales copy, the second most important element in sales after the cover. And then wonder why their books are not selling as well as they like.

— There are many forms of sales copy for novels or stories, but fiction writers don’t know the forms, or even want to learn them.

— Fiction writers do not use hype because it makes them feel uncomfortable.

— Fiction writers often don’t bother to tell the reader in the sales copy what genre their story fits in.

— Fiction writers use passive verbs to tell the readers their stories are dull and boring, and to make it active fiction writers hide the passive verb in a contraction which is worse. Most fiction writers can’t even see passive verbs.

— Fiction writers will often give away the entire story in a plot-filled blurb instead of giving the reader the chance to read the story and discover the plot.

— Fiction writers often never bother to mention their character’s names in the blurbs, not understanding that all fiction is about character.

Believing they know how to write good sales copy is just one of many delusions fiction writers have. This is not the biggest delusion, but it may be the most important to sales. And the most difficult to get past.



    • Maree

      Oh I totally forgot about that book. I remember not liking it much but when I pulled it out today it was really helpful? I guess what I think is a good blurb has evolved lol

    • J.M. Ney-Grimm

      I love How to Write Fiction Sales Copy! It’s an awesome guide. I re-read it every time I have a new release approaching for which I must create sales copy. I’m still not as skillful at sales copy as I’d like to be, but I hope I’m improving. 😉

  • Alex Scott

    I just put out a short story collection last week, and the description was one of the parts I most dreaded. What I did was go to Amazon, find descriptions for various short story collections–Gaiman, King, Bradbury, Ellison, Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson–and transcribe them all word for word, to get a feel for phrasing and flow. Then, once I was done with that, I opened a new document and wrote a description for my own collection from scratch, without copying anything. It all flowed really well. I even wrote up a new description for a novel I wrote a couple years ago.

    • dwsmith

      Alex, and you assume the editors who wrote that copy for those books knew what they were doing. Right? Bad, bad assumption.

      • Harvey Stanbrough

        Absolutely true, Dean. I made the mistake of reading a description of a new release I’d actually been waiting for. The description gave away so much of the plot that I no longer felt a need to buy the book.

  • Cora

    This sounds a bit to me like the block/myth that stops writers from continuing their education. I love learning and even if I think I know something pretty well, I’ll still try to learn a bit more about it. I’m lucky. I got that attitude from my Dad. He’s the worlds best salesman and never stopped taking courses. He always learned at least one new and helpful thing when he took yet another seminar. No matter if he could have presented most of it himself.

  • Kristi N.

    This is one place where I am very well aware of what I really don’t know. Tried writing a commercial spot (selling cows) once. Account manager took one look at it and asked someone else for a rewrite. Lesson learned. I already have this skill set targeted for learning in 2020.

  • Kate Pavelle

    That’s true-true. I definitely suck at copy – but I’m finding ways around it. A friend and I will read copy for one another and flag each other’s passive language and other deficiencies. But the only way it to practice… and have someone tell you when it’s bad. In this way, it’s very different from fiction.

  • Lorri Moulton

    Sometimes, I manage to write a decent blurb in one try. Other times, it seems to elude me. Very much like covers! LOL But it’s important to keep trying until we get it right…or at least better.