"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
"O" is for "Origins"
Here's something that might be interesting. I don't know. It might and it mightn't. But AT HELL'S GATES is a collaborative, all-volunteer enterprise, and so sometimes I find myself doing weird random chores for the good of the series. I actually wrote the back cover copy for the second volume, ORIGINS OF EVIL, which is probably something that you don't normally wonder about. ("Gee, I wonder who wrote this...")
Back cover copy is sometimes called a "blurb" (which it's not) and sometimes a "synopsis" (which it's also not) so for simplicity's sake I always just call it "back cover copy" or "jacket copy." (In case you're wondering, in the literary world a "blurb" is the attaboy quote from another author usually stamped on the front of a book, and a "synopsis" is a minimum of one page complete summary of the book, including all spoilers and the ending, used for editorial and purchasing purposes.)
So I thought it might be interesting to look at my thoughts about writing the jacket copy for AHGII. The text is in green and annotated with my thoughts in white. Enjoy! Or don't. I don't really give a shit.
Welcome back to Hell’s Gates! I originally wrote "Welcome back to AT HELL'S GATES" which Shana, the curator, rightly changed. I meant welcome back to the series, but in the final version it's less of a grammatical nightmare. The palpable sense of dread may seem familiar, but this time things are a bit…different. Fresher. Newer. As though just recently born… This was my attempt to be tantalizing.
See that squealing baby over there? He could grow up to be a lifesaving doctor (or perhaps the antichrist.) What about that scientist burning the midnight oil? He could be working on a bug zapper (or a doomsday device.) Did you catch that comet out of the corner of your eye? It might bring good luck (or an apocalyptic plague.) I decided with this paragraph to establish a pattern and repeat it three times, three supposedly being the perfect number for examples. The first one was just a generic idea that I had, and the other two were specific examples from the book. The comet was my story (hey, self-promotion is one of the few benefits of being assigned to write the jacket copy) and the bug zapper was from our big fish, Mark Tufo. Actually, this entire volume's theme, which I also created, was reverse engineered so that we could include Tufo's piece. All the other authors were then invited to follow the theme.
Yes, every darkness has a source, every monster has a birthplace, and every evil has an origin. Threes again. In the second volume of the #1 Bestselling AT HELL’S GATES series, twenty-three of the finest dark fiction authors working today will force you to witness the ORIGINS OF EVIL. I was very excited when the first volume got a #1 button from Amazon UK because I knew we'd be able to promote ourselves as "#1 Bestselling" forever. Each unique tale of terror traces an unspeakable horror back to its very beginning.
All proceeds from this horror anthology series go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity benefiting military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. The authors and editors of this series are pleased to donate their time and effort to a truly worthy cause. I either lifted this paragraph wholesale or altered it slightly from the jacket copy of the first volume, which was written by the inimitable S.G. Lee. It was important to me in the jacket copy to balance the horror content with the charitable intent, because I assume those attract two slightly different audiences, although obviously there's an overlap or we wouldn't be doing this.
So sit back, relax, support a fine charity, and enjoy twenty-three tales of dawning calamity from some of horror fiction’s leading lights. This is sometimes called an "elevator pitch" - in other words, if you only had an elevator ride to sell your product to someone, what would you say? In one sentence, I tried to capture all the beats that went before: charity, horror, origins, great authors. Bam.
Well hopefully this was a little bit illuminating about how an author (or, me, anyway) goes about writing jacket copy. And make sure to check out this volume and the whole series. If I haven't sold you on it by now, I've failed at my appointed task. :)
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