Question: How do you get a writer to agonize for hours over a handful of words that aren’t in her manuscript?
Answer: Tell her she has to write her own blurbs, headlines, and website copy!
Hey, it’s my choice! I’m not looking for a publisher, so promotion is 100% my responsibility. Great that I have such control over my message and where it appears, but what the heck should that message be? How best to communicate it?
Because the sad truth is, prose writing does nothing to prepare you for copywriting. Copywriting is about presenting value and overcoming reluctance in the pithiest, grabbiest way possible. It’s not about spending paragraph after paragraph pouring your heart out. There’s testing involved- and big fonts, and benefit lists, and audits- arrrgh!
You can’t half-ass it either, any more than you can half-ass your prose. In fact, if your name isn’t Stephen King, nailing the copy is arguably more important than the prose. If your blurb fails to grab anyone’s attention, no one will ever read the book you spent so much time on.
So yeah, I’m slowly learning about all this stuff, using a series of books put out by the folks at Copyhackers. It’s interesting to discover what grabs people and what doesn’t, and how that changes over time as people all strive to emulate one another’s successes (i.e. shamelessly gank what works). But yeesh, this is a whole discipline in and of itself!
It takes long, grueling practice. Coming up with a good blog post headline should take just as long as writing the post itself. I’ll be honest, I don’t put nearly as much attention into my headlines as I should. As for the blurb that’ll eventually go on my novel? That’s been a work in progress for months. Every so often I’ll revisit it, beat the hell out of it for a few hours, then post the new version. I intend to keep doing that right up until it’s time to post the ebook for sale.
My website copy is also a constant work in progress. It’s something I’ll worry more about when I have more to promote and sell, but in the meantime, I’m trying to come up with pages that (1) clearly lead to my work, (2) express who I am, and (3) intrigue people enough to sign up for my mailing list.
I don’t have much by words of wisdom here- I’m still very much a novice- but I wanted to put it out there as something I’m learning in the overall process of self-publishing. If I come upon any insight or effective approaches, I’ll certainly report them. In the meantime, I’ll be tearing my hair out over my “value proposition!”
Do you have any experience with writing copy? Reply in the comments with 1 essential thing I should know!