Friday, March 6, 2015

Writing Killer Promo Material

You’ve written a romantic suspense book, but how do you sell it?

Promotional Material!

Indy writers are taking over the publishing business! That’s the good news. The bad news: we are also taking over traditional publishing duties. One of those areas, that aren’t always in a writer’s wheelhouse, is creating promotional material for your romantic suspense book or series. Bloated promo material can make potential readers skim over your work. Something vague can confuse readers and turn them off. However, an enticing hook for your story can pull the reader in and create a sale.

I know we’re all writers but promotional writing is a skill. Never fear, it’s a skill that anyone can learn.

Promotional material requires a one-paragraph blurb about your story, a short excerpt from your book, an author’s bio, author picture, book cover jpeg, and a one-sentence hook. 

In my mind, the most important element, out of the ones mentioned above, is the one-sentence hook. I am also a screenwriter. The one-sentence hook, called a logline in Hollywood, can open doors – or in our case – sell books!

Why? Because a good one-sentence hook instantly tells a potential reader what’s amazing about your story and makes them want to read it. In essence, you’re writing a “sound bite.” It’s a WOW of a message that can be quickly digested and understood. And it makes the reader want more.

The faster something is to read, the easier your message reaches a potential reader. The trick is keeping it short, focusing on only two story elements or less, making your protagonist sound interesting, and giving a peek at the action or emotion of your storyline. You only want to tell them enough so they purchase your book.

If you do an Internet search, you will find several formulas for writing a logline. However, they all boil down to this formula:

Protagonist character trait + Protagonist occupation/title + action verb + pivotal story stake or emotion.

Other useful points:
-       The above formula can be written in any order. Writer’s choice.

-       Don’t use character names. Save them for your blurb.

-       Write your one-sentence hook in present tense.

-       Feel free to include adjectives that set your story’s tone or location, if you feel it’s a good selling point for your genre.

-       Keep all your promo material in one Word document so they are easy to find, and any jpegs in the same folder with the document. In your promo Word document, also keep links to your author website, book’s Amazon page, any of your book reviews, your Facebook page and any other social media sites. Some of these links can get long, so use to shorten them.

Below are two examples from the first two books in my romantic suspense series:
Book 1, Scarlet Revenge:

A cocky FBI Analyst teams with a devilish bombing suspect to outwit a killer and save her sexy boss.

(Find Scarlet Revenge on Amazon

Book 2, Scarlet Envy:

A cocky FBI Analyst tangles with the legendary Zodiac Killer, jeopardizing her career and everyone she loves.

(Find Scarlet Envy on Amazon

Now it’s your turn:
Consider all the twists in your story. Pick one that you’d use to entice a friend or family member to watch a movie they don’t want to watch. For example: Gone with the Wind – A tough, self-centered Southern Belle schemes to survive America’s Civil War, torn between the man she wants and man she deserves. 

Try writing a couple of loglines for your book, and test them out on friends. Their feedback will help you pick the best one, plus edit it for more impact. The goal: one sentence, instantly understandable and as short as possible. It will give potential readers a quick glimpse into your story, setting them up to read more.

Be sure to keep practicing! Writing promotional material, especially one-sentence hooks, is something that improves over time. Happy writing!

About the Scarlet Suspense Series:
Book 1 in the series, Scarlet Revenge introduces rookie female FBI analyst Cayce Scarlet, who struggles to contain a serial killer. Her only hope is to join forces with a devilish bombing suspect if she's to have any chance of outwitting the killer and saving her team -- including her sexy boss.

Book 2 in the Scarlet Suspense Series, Scarlet Envy finds clever FBI analyst Caycee Scarlet back in action, forced to track the notorious Zodiac Killer. Along for the danger: Caycee’s sexy boss Gil Graham, and devious bombing suspect Carl Hicks. When the three of them tangle – it’s deadly!

Ann McGinnis writes about characters that let their egos and sense of justice rule their lives, while they protect the public from serial killers and unthinkable crimes. Of course, Ann's characters always find a way to blow off steam -- romantically!

Find Ann McGinnis at
And on Amazon:
Scarlet Revenge
Scarlet Envy
And Facebook:

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, thanks for sharing. The logline is something I struggle with so maybe this formula will make things easier :)
    Jacquie Biggar