Monday, April 23, 2012

And the winner is......

I want to thank you all for entering The Jacket Copy Contest.  I hope you had fun and learned something.  Jacket copies are not easy to write.  Well, that's my opinion at least.

I also want to thank Kate for hosting the contest with me and getting back with the winner so soon.  She truly does rock.

So.. now what you all been waiting for....Drum Roll please....

Hi folks!

We got some wonderful entries in this contest--thanks to everyone who contributed.

Before announcing the winner, though, I want to give everyone a couple of pointers for writing queries and jacket copy.

*pause as people scroll down anyway to see who won*

1) When writing jacket copy or a query, make sure that the first line hooks the reader. A logline isn't necessary, but if you have one, make it memorable. For example, the one for BENEATH THE SURFACE drew me in immediately:

A timeless love. An endless curse. Which one will survive the summer?

I can picture that on a book cover, and I can picture a lot of readers picking up the book because of a line like that. So, make sure that your first line draws the readers in... and that each additional line keeps them there.

2) Bring out your narrative voice in the query or jacket copy. WITCH COUNTRY and CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG did a great job with this. If your character has a folksy or sarcastic or funny narrative voice, it sells the story. For example, there have been a TON of vampire books in recent years, but Molly Harper's NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS had such a wonderful narrative voice, it didn't matter. Her series stood out as a great read IN SPITE of being a vampire story. Right now, the YA market is glutted--everyone is writing YA. Your narrative voice needs to be the sparkly hat that makes your book stand out in the crowd.

3) Some things to avoid:

Avoid clichés--put things in your own words. As an editor, I avoid clichés like the plague; they make me madder than a wet hen, and I wouldn't be caught dead accepting a manuscript full of them.

Avoid telling about emotions--don't say, "she was angry;" show us how her anger makes something burn in her gut or tighten her jaw. This goes for the rest of the book, too.

Avoid giving book reports--we didn't have any like this in this contest, thank heavens! But I've seen queries that read like something written before the bell in homeroom: "And then they leave the castle and go to the tavern. And then they get in a fight with a group of angry dwarves."

Avoid high fantasy plots in which people leave the castle and get in a tavern brawl with dwarves. It's been done.

4) The main difference between a query and jacket copy is that a query gives the agent or editor a full concept of the premise, main character, and major plot elements. The jacket copy should limit any plot references to the first few chapters, so there aren't any spoilers.

So, that's my 2¢. I'd like to invite all of the contributors to query Spencer Hill Press when we re-open to submissions in December. And you've GOT to check out PERFECTION when it comes out next May, of course! It's an amazing story--check out the jacket copy here:

And now, what you've been waiting for:

I'd like to give honorable mentions to the interesting plot elements of THE HOURGLASS BRIDGE, the wonderful twist of CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG, the creeptastic premise of NETHER BOUND, the emotional bind of THE END WORLD, and the I-think-this-happened-in-NYC-when-TWILIGHT-came-out enjoyment of LURE.

The winner of the jacket copy query contest is...

THAT SUCCS by Larissa Hardesty

Congratulations, Larissa! Please get in touch through the Spencer Hill contact form for instructions on how to receive your partial critique. 


Thanks, again, Kate for the great advice.  And for giving everyone who entered a chance to query Spencer Hill in December. That is beyond awesome.  Be sure to mention you contributed to the contest in the opening paragraph to give Kate a reminder.

Grats to all the honorable mentions.

And a big CONGRATS to Larissa Hardesty!

Please leave Larissa a comment congratulating her and please leave another for Kate thanking her.

Keep a look out on my blog.  I'll be hosting another contest to'll just be hosting another contest soon. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

STOP!! The Jacket Copy Contest is closed

The contest is now closed and has been closed since 12 midnight.  Sorry for the delay in posting.  I thought I had the closing post all set up to post but apparently I am lacking in the know how to set a timer. 

I want to thank everyone for entering and for visiting my site.

I hope this will turn out to be a great learning experience for all.  Jacket copies are not easy to write.  Then again, writing is not easy; that's why I love hosting these writing contests for the opportunity to learn and, of course, the prizes.  :)

Kate is an awesome person for donating the prize to the winner, so please be sure to thank her for doing so in the comment section below.  


Monday, April 9, 2012


I'm so lucky to have Kate Kaynak be super awesome and co-host The Jacket Copy Contest with me.  Not only is this a great learning experience for everyone who enters, but an epic opportunity, too.  Kate is an editor for Spencer Hill Press, which has published awesome books.  Go check them out here.  Who better than an editor to give a partial critique (BTW, that is the prize).

Not only is Kate an editor for my publisher, Spencer Hill Press, but she's the author of The Ganzfield Books: Minder, Adversary, Legacy, Accused, Operative, and Soulmate, which won Best YA Series.  If you haven't yet, it's probably a series you want to check out.  I'll even be nice and give you her Goodreads link.  And if you're a stalker like me, you can find Kate hanging out at her blog, on twitter, and facebook.

Remember, a jacket copy is not a query, but a description of a novel as a whole.  If you haven't yet, take the time to visit your local bookstore, pull random books off the shelf, and read the jacket copy.  Ask yourself: "Is this a book I'd read?" or "Is this a book I'd never, ever bother to open up."  Compare them to see what it was you liked or didn't like, and why.

A jacket copy is one of the main selling points of a novel. 

Just to prove it, I'm gonna give you a scenario.

Picture yourself in a bookstore.  The scent of hardbacks and pages riding the light breeze of the air conditioner.  You're browsing in your favorite section, searching through hundreds and hundreds of titles and book-covers for that certain...*gasp*...there it is.  One of the most intriguing covers ever (I'm thinking it's a striking blue eye with a reflection of a butterfly). Your fingers lightly touch the spine of this novel you must have.  You pull it free from the bookshelf, yielding it like a lost holy relic.  

And what's the first thing you do?  

If you guessed open it up to read the summary, then you're probably right.  If that short description caught your attention, you're probably holding your new find to your chest like a newborn baby.  If not, then you slide the book right back into the place where it originally rested on the shelf.  Left behind as you scour the remaining books for that one find.

A jacket copy is a selling tool for you, the author.  In thirty seconds, you have to build your story to a level above all the other books vying for the reader's attention.  So, Kate and I thought it'd prove to be a great experience for you to write one for your book.

Your job is to sell Kate, (a.k.a. the reader) your book in 250 words or less.  Pretend she's browsing the shelves of your local bookstore.  

Here are the rules to enter the contest.

1) You have to follow my blog.  My contest, so I get to do that.

2) Post the jacket copy of your completed novel in the comment section as such:

Author: (Your name)

Title: (The title of your novel)

Jacket Copy: (The brief description of your novel written to entice the reader to buy in 250 words or less.)

3) If you have entered my other contests and even if you won, you can still enter this one, too.

4) You can enter up to two jacket copies for two different novels. 

5) The contest will close Saturday, April 14th at 12:00 midnight (central).  Um.. April 14th of 2012.

6) That's it.  There will be no comments or anything else with this contest.  I might do something fun like set up a poll for each entry for you to vote for your favorite jacket copy while we wait.   

7) If you have a question, please feel free to post in the comment section. 

PRIZE: A partial ten-page critique donated by Editor Extraordinaire, Kate Kaynak.

I'd like to take a moment and invite you to Goodreads to checkout PERFECTION, release date May 2013, here.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012


As you may or may not know:

I love hosting contests.

I love hosting different types of contests.

Writing is such an unending Ferris-wheel of ups and downs, learning, and experience.  And when I say unending, I mean that literally.  Since I started the voyage of writing many loops around the sun ago, I've learned so much.  From writing like I'm doing some sort of research paper to becoming my characters and breathing life into them.  From trying to incorporate everyone's advice to finding myself and bringing out my own voice within the words. And there is so much more for me to discover.

The contest I'll be hosting is with Kate Kaynak, editor from my most awesome publisher Spencer Hill Press.  You can mark PERFECTION as a "to read" on Goodreads.  Publication date is May 2013.  Yeah, it's a long way off, but everyday I'm still very excited.

Back to Kate...
Not only is Kate an editor for my most awesome publisher, but she is also the author of The Ganzfield Books: Minder, Adversary, Legacy, Accused, Operative, and Soulmate.  Go check out the Ganzfield site here.  When you're done with that, take the time to check out Kate's blog, follow her on twitter, and check out her facebook page  Yeah, Kate's pretty awesome!!

By the way, this is KATE!

So, you must be wondering what type of contest I've cooked up with you this time.  I'm gonna tell ya.


No, here...

Okay, here...

To enter this contest, you must write a jacket copy.  You know, one of the selling points of your novel.  As a matter of fact, Publishing Trends states it is the second most important part of selling your book.  Check out the article here.

You think it might be a good thing to practice?  Ya, me too.

So, your job is to sell Kate your book in 250 words or less.  Please note, a jacket flap is not a query.  It is a brief description of the book as a whole.  I highly suggest you read jacket flaps from books.  Bunch of  books.  Books you want to buy.  Books you don't want to buy.  Then compare them.

Sounds like a great reason to go to the bookstore.  *grin*

What's up for grabs?

A partial ten-page critique from Kate.  It's an awesome prize; not to mention, opportunity!


The contest doesn't open until April 9th.  This is nothing more than a heads-up.

On April 9th (not the day before, not the day after), I will post the rules to the contest.

So, take this time to do a little research and get your entries ready.  

Good luck!!