Category: Writing book copy

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy Wins a 2011 IPPY Award Gold Medal!

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

A future world only heartbeats from our own

Author Sandy Nathan has just won the the 2011 IPPY (Independent Publisher) GOLD MEDAL FOR VISIONARY FICTION for her sci-fi /fantasy / visionary fiction novel, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy. The IPPY Award Contest is one of the largest and oldest competitions for independent presses––in fact, it may be the oldest and largest.

Sandy says, “Winning this award feels very good. It marks almost four years of work by myself and my publishing team at Vilasa Press. I want to thank my content editor, Melanie Rigney; my book designer, Lewis Agell; Kathy Grow for copy editing and proofreading assistance; and Kathryn Agrell for writing the cover copy. Many thanks also to my husband, Barry Nathan for keeping Vilasa Press organized and moving forward.”

This is the fourteenth national award Sandy Nathan has won with her four books. She has won two Silver Nautilus Awards, and a Bronze and Silver IPPY Award in previous contests. She was a Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist, and has won several Indie Excellence and Best Book (USA Book News) Awards. “It feels good every time. A pat on the back for work well done.”

The Angel is the first book of Tales from Earth’s End, a series of books about people literally at the end of the earth. In the case of The Angel, that “end” was a nuclear holocaust coming the next day. Later books explore new definitions for earth’s extremity.

The award came at a particularly difficult time. The day before being notified of her win, Ms. Nathan’s horse, Tecolote, had to be euthanized. “I have been grieving deeply the last few weeks. My horse’s heart was failing and  the veterinarians couldn’t stop it. When I lost that beautiful buckskin horse, I thought my heart would fail. Here’s his story, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could. Teco’s story has already won a the 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (grades 1-6) in its own right.

“The day after we put him down, I won a national award! I guess that God’s just telling me that it’s not over until it’s over. And that happiness and sadness can exist together.

“If you haven’t read The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, I invite you to do so. It’s available in a number of formats.”

Trade Paperback
Kindle 99 cents. Such a deal!

Trade Paperback
Nook Book 99 cents. Such a deal!

I’m told by my distributor that the book is available, but I couldn’t find it. Please keep checking. It should be 99 cents.

iBook store for the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad  99 cents. Yet another great deal for an award-winning book!

Here’s some information about The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, if the book is new to you:

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is Sandy Nathan’s new science fiction/fantasy novel. Of the special genre of books and films that include 1984, A Brave New World, and The Prisoner Series,  The Angel takes the reader to a dark future world that’s not so different from our own. In the late 22nd century, people are continually watched, disappearing off the streets and from their homes. A shadowy but all-powerful government calls the shots; war rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.

All is not bad in this fictional realm, for the angelic extraterrestrial, Eliana, appears on the streets on New York City on a mission to save her planet.  As radiant and pure as the world around her is tarnished, Eliana must find the Golden Boy. He turns out to be Jeremy Edgarton, a tech genius on a planet where technology is outlawed, a revolutionary, and the FBI’s most wanted. They find themselves caught up in an explosive adventure when Jeremy decodes new transmissions and discovers that a nuclear holocaust will take place the next morning.

The themes of The Angel read like pure sci-fi, but author Sandy Nathan explains, “I’m a former economist. While the love story between Jeremy and Eliana enchants, the back-story––the hideous world around them––is the product of my economist’s mind interacting with current events. We’re in the worst economic melt-down since the 1930’s, with no end in sight. Some events in  The Angel are based directly upon history. For instance, Germany’s economic distress during the Great Depression is one factor contributing to the rise of Adolf Hitler. Could a totalitarian government arise from our current conditions? Maybe.  The Angel’s world is just a heartbeat from our own. In writing  The Angel, I wanted to entertain my readers and challenge them to discover solutions.”

So the book has a vision, a powerful vision, and a dark vision. And it’s also got a love story that will melt your heart. The sequel is well into production. Something to look forward to.

All the best,
Sandy Nathan



Ridin’ high!

The Most Important Writing in Your Book by Laren Bright



Laren Bright of Laren Bright Words is our guest blogger. Laren is an outstanding, amazing writer of book copy and other advertising text. What is book copy? The words that sell your book, otherwise known as the title, sub title, back cover text, and so on. Laren explains in greater detail below. Laren wrote the copy on my books Numenon and Stepping Off the Edge. I’m delighted with what he did. Laren has the ability to create magic from ordinary words.

Please join me in welcoming Laren Bright.

Sandy Nathan, Your Shelf Life

The Most Important Writing in Your Book

So, you’ve written a book. Or you’re writing a book. Or you’re thinking of writing a book. If you plan to sell your book, there is something you need to know: The best message in the world won’t sell unless it’s presented so people want to buy it.

Here’s a short outline on what you need to know about writing promo text, which includes title, sub title, back cover, flap text (or equivalent), and your short author’s bio. At the end I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t write your own promo text.

Title. A good title, generally, relates to the content of the book, is interesting, and, if applicable, offers or implies a benefit. (This does not necessarily apply to fiction books, but it may.) Of my own work, my favorite title is Soldiers, Scoundrels, Poets & Priests.

Sub title. Where the title stimulates interest, the sub title is a statement of what’s in the book. In the above example, the sub title is: Stories of the Men and Women behind the Missions of California. Between the title that piques interest and the sub title that explains more, browsers pretty much know if the book is something they’re interested in. If they’re not sold yet, they will turn to the back cover.

Back Cover. The back cover is the first place where you have a shot at really selling your book. If you’ve got a nibble with the front cover, then you can start to set the hook with the back cover. The back cover is the place to describe the benefits; what the reader is going to get out of the book. The back cover presents the promise.

Flap Text. The flap or about the book text takes the promise you stated on the back cover and tells how you’re going to deliver it. You want to give solid information that give substance to your claims. But what about trade paperbacks that don’t have flaps? I frequently work with a fabulous book producer/book shepherd named Ellen Reid. Ellen recognized that the flaps were key selling real estate that was lost in a trade paperback. So she created the About the Book page, which contains the text you’d normally put on the flap. This page appears in one of the first inside pages of the book so that browsers see it almost immediately upon opening the book. Ellen singlehandedly restored the benefit of flaps to books without flaps.

Author’s Short Bio. Start with this awareness: No one cares about you. (Okay, your mom probably thinks you’re swell.) Until they get the benefit from your book, things like where you went to school, what your hobbies are, that you’re a member of the Lion’s Club mean little to the browser. So the whole point of the Short Bio is to establish you as someone who knows enough about your subject that the browser wants to know what you know. Keep your piece short and focus only on what supports you as an expert in your field. Having said that, I generally like to throw in a line to humanize the author. For example, for Sandy Nathan I wrote: She is a writer, a rider, a wife and a mother of three grown children.

Okay, so those are the secrets of book promo writing I’ve gleaned over the course of more than 10 years writing for authors and 40 years writing advertising copy. Now here are 4 reasons why I think it doesn’t serve you to try and write your own promo text – unless you are a professional in sales and promotion.

• Not all the above keys apply all the time. It takes experience to know when they do and when they don’t.

• Authors tend to forget what the browser doesn’t already know. So what is a clever or clear title to the author may be totally meaningless to the browser.

• You are almost certainly too close to your subject to be able to communicate the benefits in a nutshell. Virtually every attempt I’ve seen at back cover/flap text by an author tries to give away the whole book instead of tempt and titillate.

• Most people have a really tough time realizing how much they really know that others don’t know. So most authors’ attempts at writing their author’s bio is less effective than it could be, which can make the difference between a sale or a pass.

• Writing a book requires exercising a very different muscle than writing promo text. A professional copywriter spends a great deal of time thinking in terms of benefits vs. features. You need to know which is which and where to apply one or the other.

Getting a book written & into print is one thing. Getting it done so that it’s salable is something else. If you have confidence in your book and think you can sell it and make money with it, then it’s worth investing money to give it the best shot at selling successfully.



Laren Bright is an Emmy nominated, award-winning writer who has been assisting people (and companies) with promo text that sells for more years than he cares to think about.



The illustrations on this blog post were made by Laren’s colleagues when he worked in animation.

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