Go ahead, judge that book by its cover. And judge it by its back cover, too. Today I want to talk sizzle, or, more properly, “copy.” Much depends on the text that surrounds the book through each step of the publishing process, from the query the agent reads, the pitch the editor will read, to the jacket copy on the back of the slab.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Scrutinize the copy on that tin of hearts of palm, of movie synopses, on the back of your favorite granola. On the banners flown over beaches by propeller planes. What are the grains and veins of the “sell,” the hooks, the emotional tugs? What evocative descriptions, what refinements of argument? I’m asking you to harness your inner copywriter, your previous life as Don Draper.
I’d like to think I’m not a philistine. The work of art is everything. But you’ve got to get your readers sold on it before they’ll crack it open.
So distill your pitch from its fine vapor of concerns into legible, concrete promises; lay out its stakes, its principals, its upshot, its necessity. Make it sizzle.
—Ian Bonaparte of Janklow & Nesbit Associates