You’ve established yourself with a few authors writing back cover copy, and you’re ready to approach publishers with your writing portfolio. Maybe you’d like to get your foot in the door with a few of the smaller presses so you can work your way up to the big leagues. However, most small publishers rarely advertise for copywriters. It’s not because they don’t need them; it’s simply a matter of making do with what they have.
Copywriters are an extra expense that some publishers simply can’t afford…or at least they think they can’t afford. That’s why your first approach needs to sell yourself in such a way the publisher really wants to give you a shot.
You will usually only have one opportunity to impress these busy companies so take some steps to make sure you present the best possible image.
Bring a boring copy
First, prepare several examples of boring copy. Yes, that’s right. You want to showcase how you can make that cover sing and attract more buyers than the original. So, go ahead, write the dull back cover blurb that will have even the most understanding editor yawning.
Now, rewrite that copy on the same page. This is the time to break out the active verbs and high-quality adjectives, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want the sales copy to be too wordy or difficult to understand. Leave the five-dollar words in the dictionary unless you’re looking for work with technical publishers.
Once you improved the copy, send out a call on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (hopefully, you have those), asking authors for their input. Use the feedback to improve the blurb.
Make contact again
After you’ve polished your words until you can see your own reflection, ask those same authors if they’ll provide you with one or two lines of opinion text you can use in your sample package to publishers. Even if you’re already writing back cover copy, this is a step you’ll want to take as independent reviews are important.
You want to show the publishers that established authors who don’t use your service at present are impressed with the difference. Try to use two or three different authors per mock-up. Ideally, you want authors with several book credits to their name and who have an established fan base. Award-winning and/or best-selling authors are a bonus!
Separate the writing samples. You should have a boring blurb followed by a reworked blurb. Below that should be the opinion text. Pdf each of those pages as you’ll be including those in your portfolio.
Finally, add some testimonials from your current clients to the mix. Three to five is a good number as you don’t want four pages of clients saying wonderful things about you. The work will need to speak for itself.
How can I help publishers sell their books?
Now, you’re ready for the big approach. Out of the gate you’ll need a cover letter that makes the publisher question whether or not you could help sell their books. Offer to send them samples, but in the body of the letter, you’ll want to include some small samples of the good versus bad copy along with a couple of the authors’ opinions.
How can you sell yourself better?
You will have to sell yourself because, inevitably, the publisher will want to know why he should use you instead of training someone in-house? How many blurbs can you create in a day? A week? Will you offer discounts if the publisher uses you for a certain number of books at a time? What will you need to utilize in order to prepare the blurb? So prepare a set of questions and answers that you can include in your package.
What size publishers should I target?
Start with some of the small e-publishers or print-on-demand publishing houses. Visit their websites and locate the highest person on the ladder to contact. In other words, you want to try to gain the contact information for the president or CEO. Failing that, go for the editor-in-chief or Executive Editor. You may need to send more than one e-mail. Be persistent but patient.
What should I charge for my services?
When one (or more) of the publishers expresses interest, you’ll need to be prepared with your rates as well as proven sales records which you should have if you’ve been working with authors for any length of time.
Only approach three to five houses at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. If a publisher is interested but can’t afford your rates, be willing to negotiate. At this point, it’s more important to get your foot in the door than to pocket a hefty sum of cash (although both are possible).
With the plethora of publishers in business now, you should be able to keep a steady income rolling in once you’ve gotten your foot in the door.
About the author:
A multi-published author of romantic suspense, Rachel Carrington has been writing for almost thirty years. She’s an editor, a reader, a shopaholic, and a social media fanatic. You can find her at www.rachelcarrington.com or one of the social media links below.