Monday, September 01, 2008

A Valuable Writing Skill

About 15 years ago, my phone rang and it was an editor for a publishing house in Chicago. He asked, "Can you write back cover copy?" The back of a book contains enticing words which sell the reader on the contents inside the book. To write these words involves a specialized writing skill that I have learned.

"Absolutely, I can write back cover copy," I said yet inside I was trembling because at that point I had never tried it. I received the assignment and the publisher sent the manuscript for the book. I had several days to skim the contents of the book, and then craft the words for the back cover. The payment was a modest $50 per book and in that period I wrote several dozen back covers. There was no publishing "by-line" or credit for my work but I gained valuable experience and increased the diversity for my writing.

Many writers have never tried copywriting or considered it. Possibly you are one of those writers and in this entry of The Writing Life, I want to give you some encouragement to learn this skill and a free resource with some additional instruction.

Brian Clark, known as copyblogger, defines copywriting as, "one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. The art and science of copywriting involves strategically writing words that promote a person, product, business, opinion, or idea, with the ultimate intention of having the reader take some form of action. So, whether you’re looking to sell something or to build traffic by earning links from others, you’ll need to tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond the way you want."

Whether you are writing a book proposal or a query letter or an ad for your website or a sample back cover for your book or any number of other types of writing, learning copywriting will help you put power and persuasion into your writing.

I hope I've given you enough encouragement to understand the necessity for every writer to learn this skill. Yes, if you are a fiction writer you need to learn good storytelling skills--and nonfiction writers need to learn to tell stories. In addition, every writer needs to learn to add the power of copywriting to their set of skills.

This weekend I ran across this site from Alex Mandossian. It's been up for several years and some of the internal links do not work but the information in the Ebook is timeless--and well worth reading and studying.

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