Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Tuyo

First, you all have persuaded me that this is a perfectly okay title. Thank you all! Second, let me make another try at back cover copy.

Here’s the original attempt:

Ryo inGara has always been willing to fight and die for his family and his people. Now that trouble has engulfed the borderlands between the winter lands and the summer country, he thought that death might come to him soon. But he expected to die in battle, not fall into the hands of a powerful enemy warleader. Now he faces more complicated choices, and the fate of both countries may depend on his decisions

I didn’t like anything much about this and just wrote it so I could have something to enter in the “description” box for KDP so I could get to the part where I uploaded the manuscript and looked at the page count.

Sometimes I think I more or less do a pretty decent job with back cover description, even, or especially, when I just dash it off without thinking too much about it. But as I said, I didn’t think much of this attempt, and your comments certainly reinforced that opinion.

So, let me try again.

The basic idea when you’re writing back cover copy is to stuff your book into this format:

When OPENING CONFLICT happens to CHARACTER(s), they have OVERCOME CONFLICT to COMPLETE QUEST.

I got that years ago from Nathan Bransford and I do think it’s a good basic model for how to write cover copy. Then you add whatever you think is catchy for about seven lines and you’re done. Again I agree with Nathan there: there’s no point to long, drawn out description that goes on and on. That’s just going to turn off a reader, imo.

Worse still if the back cover reveals plot points that ought to come as surprises to the reader, or even shocking reveals. A startling number of book descriptions do that; I don’t know why and wish they would stop. In TUYO, there is a reveal, and definitely one I’m trying to hide, though an astute reader with a suspicious mind might pick it up earlier than someone who’s zipping fast through the story without thinking too much about what might be coming up.

So let me try again, taking all your helpful comments into account:

——

Raised a warrior by a warrior people, Ryo inGara has always been willing to die for his family, and for the people of the winter lands. Now that war has erupted between his people and the summer country, the prospect of death in battle seemed imminent. But when his warleader leaves Ryo to die at the hands of their enemies, he faces a fate he never imagined.

Ryo’s captor, a lord of the summer country, may be an enemy . . . but far worse enemies are moving, with the current war nothing but the opening moves in a hidden game Ryo barely glimpses, a game in which all his people may be merely pawns. Should Ryo give his loyalty to the man who holds him prisoner, the only man who may be able to defeat their greater enemy? And even if he does, can he persuade his people to do the same?

——

A little longer than I might like, and, eh, there are some things here I don’t much care for. But I do think this is a much better job than my first try. What do you all think?

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11 Comments Tuyo

  1. Mary Beth

    I like this a lot better. We get a clearer sense of the stakes and the major themes of loyalty and trust, and that Ryo’s challenge is not just to “make a choice” but to persuade a warrior nation to throw their lot in with an enemy nation! And you still do this without spoiling the important reveals.

    I’d still suggest a few tweaks:

    Raised a warrior by a warrior people, Ryo inGara has always been willing to die for his family, and for the people of the winter lands. — I don’t really like the repetition of “warrior” and “people” within this sentence (and you use “people” again in the next line). Plus, Ryo doesn’t get along with all the other tribes! Then there’s also the tense-switching in the next line. (“Now that war has erupted…death seemed imminent”). Perhaps:

    Raised a warrior in the harsh winter country, Ryo inGara has always been willing to die for his family and his tribe. When war erupted against the summer country, the prospect of death in battle seemed imminent.

  2. Mary Beth

    Oh, one more thought! If you potentially want to explain the title in the back cover copy, here’s an option:

    But when his warleader leaves Ryo as a sacrificial tuyo to die at the hands of their enemies, he faces a fate he never imagined.

  3. Allan Shampine

    Much better. At the halfway point I was thinking “I really want to read this,” which is a great sign. I thought it stumbled in the last few lines, but not enough to change my mind about buying it. What about changing the last two sentences to something like “Ryo finds his loyalties torn as he tries to navigate this new world.”

  4. Maggie

    Looks good! This summary is a lot more intriguing than the first.
    I agree with Mary Beth’s suggestions, I think that mentioning the title in the summary would help tie it together.
    I think the length is just fine; after looking at the backs of other books lying around, two paragraphs seems like a fairly average length.

  5. Rachel

    Interestingly common feeling that “Tuyo” should be the name of the main character if it’s the book title. As you can see, it’s not. I guess I will have to consider some version of Mary Beth’s sentence if readers are going to find that confusing.

    Mind you, the confusion gets cleared up about page two, so it doesn’t seem possible that it would be an actual problem. But still.

  6. SarahZ

    Doesn’t tuyo mean “yours” in Spanish? If the meaning isn’t clarified in the blurb it might give the title a slightly romance-y vibe. Or, maybe I’m over-analyzing…

  7. Rachel

    Sarah, does it really? Well, that is actually not inappropriate, though not in a romance-y way. But you are right, that’s a good reason to clarify in the blurb.

  8. Kim Aippersbach

    I actually think even that gives away too much! And I agree that tuyo should be defined: it’s an intriguing concept and is in itself a teaser for the book. What about something like this?

    Ryo inGara is tuyo, a valued warrior left behind by a defeated tribe to appease the victorious enemy’s wrath and secure his tribe’s safe retreat. Ryo is ready to die to save his family and his people. But Lord Aras of the Lau, unfamiliar with the tuyo custom, chooses to delay Ryo’s death and brings him captive to the summerlands. Thus begins a fraught and dangerous relationship, which may save both summer and winter countries, or plunge them into a vicious war. In the hands of an enemy, where is Ryo’s honour? When a man is left for dead, of what use are his oaths?

    (Maybe you don’t need both honour and oaths, but I wanted to stick them in because they’re so important!)

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