Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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The Mountain of Kept Memory: What is your book about?

What a totally unanswerable question, right? What is your book about? Here’s what people do not want when they ask that question: They don’t want to know the plot (waaaay too long and utterly boring to describe), nor do they want to know the theme (“It’s about sacrifice and finding true love”).

No.

What people actually want when they ask what your book is about is the “elevator pitch,” the one-sentence description of your book that serves as a hook and a “wow, cool” pitch for your book. One sentence is brief enough they can stand to listen to it, and who knows, it might make your book sound Just Right for Them, which is a perk.

Needless to say, coming up with a one-sentence description of your book is NOT EASY.

mountain memory - front cover design 2

Here’s my attempt for MOUNTAIN: Though Erest is only a farmer’s crippled son and Oressa is on the run from her royal father, when their homeland is threatened by invaders seeking to steal the power of the last goddess in the world, they must work together to save both the goddess and the realm.

What do you think? I don’t really like it. What I like least is the “they must work together” phrase. This signals Romance Here, in my opinion, and though there is a fairly strong thread of romance through this book, it isn’t between Erest and Oressa. Plus they are mostly working separately, if you want to be nitpicky about it.

Even the 150-word back cover copy is not easy:

When Erest ventures onto the forbidden mountain of the dead gods, he finds himself snared only half-willingly into the service of the last goddess in the world. The Kieba does need help in her endless work of guarding the world from plague and disaster, but does that really have to be him?

Oressa, princess of Carastind, knows what’s important in life: avoiding her royal father and keeping track of all the secrets of his court. But when she overhears news about imminent invasion, she is shocked to discover just what her father plans to give away in order to buy peace.

But when the invaders attempt to steal the Kieba’s power, both Erest and Oressa must decide where their loyalties actually lie, and what they are willing to risk to protect the goddess, their home, and the world.

There, that’s the working copy for the back cover. Is it accurate? Well, sort of, not really, but maybe accurate enough.

It leaves a lot out, because there’s just no choice when condensing a whole 123,000 word book down to five sentences.

I’m bad at memorizing one-sentence descriptions, which is too bad, because it’s kind of convenient to be able to rattle that off when someone asks what your book is about.

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7 Comments The Mountain of Kept Memory: What is your book about?

  1. Elaine T

    Maybe using the last paragraph o fthe cover copy, plus an explanatory sentence about the Kieba would do it? Although it would be nice if you could work in a mention of the other guy, too.

  2. plain jane

    Hmm, you trigged my editor with that challenge to get it down to a sentence. :)

    “Erest knows he is only a farmer’s crippled son and Oressa is on the run from her royal father, but when their home is threatened by invaders seeking to steal the power of the last goddess in the world, they both will need to decide what they’re willing to give up to save the goddess and the realm.”

    Now I’m concerned I’ve made it too generic. gah.

  3. plain_jane

    Well it’s free to a good home.

    Of course I can’t figure out if it’s better as “they both will need to decide” or “they will both need to decide”.

  4. Rachel

    I am almost sure readers spend less than 100th of the time reading the back cover copy or tagline than writers spend writing them!

  5. charlotte

    For what it’s worth, both blurbs make me want to read it! (though I did in a general sense already….)

    Just for the heck of it, here’s my take:

    When invaders threaten the last goddess of the world, a farmer’s crippled son and a princess on the run from her father must decide what they’re willing to give up to save both her and the realm.”

    I’ve never quite been convinced that we need to know characters’ names before we actually meet them in longer contexts…

  6. Rachel

    Charlotte, thanks! I never thought of leaving out the names. I think that does work better!

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