I’ve been working on the back cover copy for the first book in a new paranormal series by Elisabeth Naughton.  It’s called MARKED, and it’s coming out in May 2010.  

I’m not one of those editors who’s always wanted to be a writer.  A blank page is no fun for me (unless it’s a brand-new notebook; love those!).  I find it much easier to work with something that already exists.  But at the same time, cover copy is immensely important.  If the cover image has done its job and gotten the reader to pick up the book, it’s up now up to me to make sure the story sounds interesting enough to make them want to buy it–or at least investigate further.  Sometimes cover copy comes to me in a rush, but more often it’s a process.   

So here’s a glimpse into that process, along with commentary in the brackets.  These are the same kinds of things authors should consider when writing their query letters.

*

For nearly two hundred years he’d served his race because it was his duty as a descendent of Heracles, the greatest hero in Ancient Greece.  [Pulled from the ms.]

*

From the moment she saw him he walked into the club, Casey knew he was different. Men like that just didn’t exist in real life—silky shoulder-length hair, chest as wide as two of her side-by-side, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. And yet he’d cradled the blond woman he’d been after so tenderly. Casey ached to be held like that. Instead she was attacked by hellhounds.  [A little rough but generally decent – gets the reader a little in love with the hero (I hope), but they’ll wonder: who’s the blonde?  And I like the abrupt transition, but unfortunately it’s not actually true since he’s the one attacked and technically it’s by demons, not hellhounds.  Dang.]

*

[Playing with headlines]

THE GUARDIANS
THE GIRL [Demeaning?  But alliterative.]
THE PROPHECY [Got nothing with a G.]

*

There was unrest in the Underworld. Theron could feel it, the evil insidiously creeping sliding through the cracks into the mortal realm. As a Guardian, one of the last descendents of Hercules, it was his job to stop it.  [It’s a start, but now where do I go? Her POV?]

*

Theron knows what he has to do: kill the daemons, save the princess, rule the kingdom. His life is mapped out like some warped fairy tale. Or, way more appropriately, an ancient myth. After all, he’s a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules.

The human woman is also his duty. He has to find her and bring in her in for sacrifice. It’s all part of the save-the-princess thing. Problem is, he doesn’t really want the princess. He wants the human. Casey saved his life. Casey is his life. And he’ll die himself if that’s what it takes to protect her. [I kind of like the more casual tone, but what if it doesn’t sound dark enough? We’ve lost the part that makes the reader fall in love with the hero. What if I do a paragraph that intros each character for each book in the series?  Hmmm…]

*

THERON – Dark haired, duty bound and deceptively dangerous, he’s the leader of an elite group of guardians that protects the immortal realm. their realm and mortals from the threats of the Underworld. He can feel the unrest in the Underworld, the evil insidiously slipping out. And it’s his job to stop it.

Theron knows what he has to do: kill the daemons, save the princess, rule the kingdom. His life is mapped out like some warped fairy tale—or, more appropriately, an ancient myth. After all, he’s a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules.

Finding the human woman is also his duty. He has to bring in her in for sacrifice. It’s all part of the save-the-princess thing. Problem is, he doesn’t really want the princess. He wants the human. Casey saved his life. Casey is his life. And he’ll die himself if that’s what it takes to protect her. [A colleague was confused in thinking that the human and the princess were the same.  That’s no good.] 

*

[Sometimes you just end up going back to the beginning.]

FINAL:

THERON – Dark haired, duty bound and deceptively deadly. He’s the leader of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that defends the immortal realm from threats of the Underworld.

From the moment he walked into the club, Casey knew this guy was different. Men like that just didn’t exist in real life—silky shoulder-length hair, chest impossibly broad, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. He was looking for something.  Her.

She was the one. She had the mark. Casey had to die so his kind could live, and it was Theron’s duty to bring her in. But even as a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules, he wasn’t strong enough to resist the pull in her fathomless eyes, to tear himself away from the heat of her body.

As war with the Underworld nears, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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