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How to Write a Query Letter (Part 2): Paragraph Two, the Blurb (or Back Cover Copy)

This is the second episode in a three-part series of episodes on how to write a query letter. In it, Abigail teaches writers how to write the second paragraph of the query letter, otherwise known as the blurb or back cover copy

The back cover copy is the most important section in a query letter. Abigail shares important details writers need to make it stand out, some including:


3 Key Details Needed in Every Back Cover Copy:

  1. Character: Who is the main character? What do they want? What makes them ironic or the least likely hero for the story?
  2. Central/Main Plot: What is the main plotline? How does the character’s choices impact the plot and vice versa? How can you whittle this down so it’s concise and catchy?
  3. Hook: What makes your story different from others in the same genre? 

***Jessica Faust and James McGowan list and describe these in their awesome Bookends Youtube video. Check out their channel for more amazing writing tips and advice on all things publishing***


James Scott Bell’s 3-Sentence Method to Write a Back Cover:

  1. Name the main character, their vocation, and their situation when the story opens (also include what they want).
  2. But + “when this happens”: Think of the inciting incident of your story, what throws your character’s norm off course.
  3. Now + “death stakes”: What are the main stakes in your novel—physical, psychological, or professional? How are they spotlighted in your back cover, and why will they be raised as the story moves towards its climax?    


The Secret: Great to include in your back cover!


Example: Abigail analyzes some back cover copy examples to model how a strong back cover includes the details and strategies discussed in this episode. 


Additional Resources:


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