Friday, December 2, 2011

The Importance of Writing Good Copy

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

100_5048Jane Friedman had a great post on Writer Unboxed on Wednesday.  She said that copywriting is the number one overlooked skill for authors.

In her post, Jane covers several different ways that copywriting is important to writers.  

I loved her post because I’ve found exactly the same thing.  There have been tons of times when copywriting skills have come in handy.  Here are some places I’ve found copywriting useful:

Very short and sweet copy:  Bookmarks, directories/catalogs, tiny bios for places like Twitter, Twitter headlines, etc.  If you write enough Twitter headlines, you’ve mastered the art of headline writing.  For bookmarks, you’ve really just got a few words to say something about your book.  Twitter is 140 characters for a bio or tweet.

Long copy:  Writing a long bio is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write.  My life isn’t the most fascinating thing on paper.  But it’s amazing how many times I’m asked for a long bio. Plus, we always have an “about me” page to fill on our website or blog.  If you self-publish, you would need to come up with a product description for your book, too—not too long, but not too short, either.

Short ad-style copy:  My editor sometimes asks me to read other books from Penguin authors and to blurb them if I like the books.  If I’m writing copy that goes on a cover or inside the book, it’s got to be pithy and persuasive.

Titles:  I’m always asked to submit title ideas for my books.  My publishers rarely choose them (they have a whole department of professional copywriters), but I want to submit something to them that is worthy of being chosen.  I did come up with Pretty is as Pretty Dies.

Epub Everything: In this new era of publishing, we’d better be ready to write all kinds of copy.  For Progressive Dinner Deadly, I wrote all the copy for the book…product description, title, and any short ad copy related to the mystery.

Professional emails:  Copywriting skills come in handy even with something that seems basic and mundane, like emails.   But it’s good to be able to write an email that gets to the point quickly.

Writing copy is definitely different from writing our novels.  I’ve found that it can be very satisfying, though (maybe because we’re using a different part of our brain?  Or because it’s a challenge.)

What kinds of copy have you had to learn to write?  Have you found that it comes easier with practice?