How to write a compelling key sentence to describe your book

As an author, you need to be able to summarize the key features of your book “in a nutshell” so that you have a ready answer to questions like “what is your book about?” and “what makes it different?”

This is an important step as you prepare to take your work out into the world because people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. So unless you can communicate the gist of what your book is about clearly and concisely to agents, publishers, the media, and your readers, you’ll miss out on “getting their attention.”

It is a challenge to refine everything about his book to its essence and extract the most important points about it.

However, once you’ve done that, your compelling key sentence can be used in many different ways, such as in your book proposal, in your cover letter, and in conversation when people invite you to speak to them about your book. Once your book is contracted, publishers can use the keyphrase as the basis for writing the cover, press releases, advance information sheets and more.

So here are some formulas and tips to help you write your compelling key sentence:

• Formula for non-fiction writers – the gist of your message or central theme (content/features) plus, ideally, who your book is for and the results the reader will get from reading your book.

• Formula for fiction writers – the gist of the plot plus what’s new and exciting about your story, the overarching message if you have one, and a mention of your main character(s). Novelists may find that two or three short sentences are better than one.

• Tor help you think in the right line – stop for a moment and think about what book has inspired you and why. How would you summarize in a few words what that book is about if you wanted to tell a good friend about it (and only had a minute or two)?

• Swhere you can also visit to see how other authors describe their books.

Here is an example of a compelling key sentence for nonfiction writers:

The Writer’s Journey: Inspiration to Publication demystifies the world of publishing and outlines the steps nonfiction writers must take to present their work to agents and publishers professionally and with confidence.

Here is an example of a compelling key sentence for fiction writers:

Not many people get a second chance to meet their mother for the first time. Blood Strangers explores the many forms of female love: how it transforms over time, or how it hides in unexpected places. It is a novel about secrets and how keeping those secrets can lead to contamination of even the purest of hearts. Consider the ideas of betrayal and guilt, and how by hurting those we love most, we ultimately destroy ourselves.

Have fun coming up with your compelling key sentence!

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