Sunday, February 11, 2018

Blurbity Blurb Blurb, Your Logline So Fine

My D.I.Y. so fly. Or something.

Among the many chores requiring my attention in the run up to the release of The Wrong Kind of Dead and the simultaneous re-release of its companions, Bleeding Kansas and Grace Among the Dead, I need to shape up the back cover promo copy and punch up the loglines.

[To clarify: A logline is one sentence, no more than two, that sets the stage for your presentation. The best ones I know come from modern films. “In space, no one can hear you scream.” “Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water.” If you can come up with something like these for your book—and, like it or not, you must—you’re off to the races.]

I find that I’m a lot more critical of my stuff when it’s posted for public consumption. So here’s the back cover copy for the “digitally remastered” editions of my first two books. To clarify, these will not be released until the third book is released. However, the original editions are still available for your post-apocalyptic reading pleasure—and the digital editions should be updated when the Big Release comes. 

For Bleeding Kansas:

Derek Grace leaves his sick wife in Colorado Springs for a job interview in Kansas City. In a few short days, that nuisance of an early summer cold afflicting one-third of the population becomes the deadly Final Flu. As infrastructure falls to absenteeism, Grace finds himself miles from home, trapped between anxious police and National Guard, and all those Final Flu victims arising from their mass graves to attack the living. As he fights his way out, the long-unemployed Grace discovers a new skill set that serves him well in the New Weird Order. It’s a good thing, too, because the risen dead aren’t the only ones in his way. Only the strong will survive BLEEDING KANSAS.

Here’s the original from the 2013 first edition (the 2018 remaster will be the third):

If you have trouble reading the above, it’s probably for the best. I was thrown when my editor first asked me to write my own jacket copy. Like a lot of newbies, I fumed and fussed that I had to do the job the promotions departments of publishers used to do. This is an...unintelligent...thing to do for two reasons: 
1. It is what it is. If you’re an aspiring author, and you’re not well-connected in that upper middle class Real Artists’ Caste that’s always been with us, but in the last 30 years has been dropping the portcullises and raising the drawbridges against us peasants—you’re not getting published. They won’t even look at you. However, expressing anger and bitterness about it serves nothing but the continued amusement of the Big Publishing gatekeepers, while eliciting annoyed grunts and sighs from the rest, so...
2. Instead of being angry, be of good cheer, and especially grateful for this indie publishing revolution that allows us a platform that didn’t exist so many years ago. If it’s a little D.I.Y.-intensive, rejoice! Do you really trust a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears HR hires to promote you and your work with any understanding (let alone sympathy) of who you are and what your work means? These people are, for the most part, your generic common lazy slobs drawing breath and a paycheck. You’re doing your life’s work. Who can do this better?

I remember reading an interview with Gore Vidal around the turn of the century in which he was asked if he found writing fiction or non-fiction more difficult. “Writing is writing for writers,” he replied. “Others, I’m told, have problems.” 

Put more colloquially, “Is you or is you ain’t a writer?” Promo copy and the like should be no more difficult for you than writing the stuff you want to be rich and famous for.

With that rant put to bed (for now), I present the jacket copy for my 2018 digital remaster of Grace Among the Dead:

Returning from his Kansas adventure too late to save his wife and teenage children, Derek Grace loses himself in booze, books, pills, and the occasional killing spree among the undead. But then a stowaway and her fatal secret flush the Dead Silencer from hiding and into a busy post-apocalypse already in progress, where he must decide whether life is worth living when he’s already lost everything that matters. In the heart of darkest horror, you will find GRACE AMONG THE DEAD.

There’s more to the story than is mentioned in that short paragraph, and I bring the best of all that together with a secondary logline, “A Tale of Love, Redemption, the Living Dead and a Monster Truck,” which informs potential readers that the book isn’t going to be all gloom and misery. And having written that out, I realize I should come up with a logline independent of the titles of the other two books. Those loglines make great title banners over the cover copy, as seen in my primitive attempt here:

As you can see, there’s not much change from the above cover copy. The layout needs improvement, so I’m changing some words around so they will fit. 

The idea that eyes other than mine might be looking at these things is a great motivator. Given where I am on the learning curve here, I’m grateful I don’t have a huge audience for this blog. Yet.

My third and final book in the SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER series is coming along, and it helps to have good jacket copy over the desk to maintain focus. But is this good jacket copy? I’ll have to look at this again. And then a few more times...I don’t like that I have it sectioned, but this is a bigger, far more complicated book than I have ever written. Like all the jacket copy before, it doesn’t even cover half of what’s going on, just one big narrative thread running through the novel. 

One year has passed since the dead climbed from their graves to feast on the flesh of the living. Having consumed nearly every living thing that walks, creeps, or crawls in the cities, even the mountain to which Derek Grace and his community have retreated becomes a killing floor as millions of walking corpses fan out into the countryside in search of food.
What if, in the midst of escalating chaos, you could go back to the way things were? When all you needed was a job so you could have a place to stay and accumulate stuff, watch TV, surf the Internet? To go about your business without fear of bandits, wannabe warlords, or hordes of cannibal corpses?
The Redoubts, fortified oases of modern civilization in the remotest rural areas of North America, offer all of this and more. As Derek Grace and his family learn, though, there are no safe spaces. Don’t get caught among THE WRONG KIND OF DEAD.

A secondary logline for this—certainly not the logline—goes, “The Numbers Are Against Us.” It’s an apt refutation of the hubris of the Redoubts rulers, but a little too generic. On the other hand, I have no other logline for Bleeding Kansas, either. Nothing is jumping out at me at the moment.

So, let’s close with a few promo images, post this, and check back from time to time for further inspiration.