Nancy: Novella (.5) Cover Copy

As I’ve mentioned a few (hundred) times recently, I have a lot of writing balls in the air right now. Partly this was intentional: I knew the writing and editing tasks for my multiple books in my Victorian Romance series would have to overlap to meet a rather aggressive publishing schedule (set by yours truly, so no one to blame but myself for that). Partly this was unintentional: I got behind schedule on a few different things, shifted some dates, zigged when I should have zagged, and suddenly multiple deadlines converged and…well, here I am.

Last week, I asked for your help for a 50-word pitch and 250-word opening sequence for Take the Money and Run, my Women’s Fiction manuscript. This week, I’d love some feedback on a totally different task for a completely different book, the back cover copy for Too Clever By Half, the kickoff novella of my Harrow’s Finest Five series. I’ve been working on this slippery sucker for a while, and now it’s time to get it nailed down so I can get my cover completed (and then share it here!). The goal of the cover copy? Convince a reader to pick up the book from a bookshelf or click on the ‘look inside’ option online. In brief, the cover copy should include a high-level hook, introduce you to the protagonist(s), introduce the conflict, and make you eager to read more.

Your task today, should you choose to accept it, is to tell me whether this cover copy does that for you. The more specificity you provide about what you like, what you dislike, or what makes you say ‘oh hell no!’, the more I can improve it. So leave your thoughts and – really importantly – your first reactions to reading this in the comments, please and thank you!

Two fierce competitors engaged in a battle of intellects might just be outwitted by love…

Mr. James Alcott, younger son of a baron, has carved out his place in the world with an esteemed position at Harrow School. But when the school changes direction, he’s set adrift. He can reclaim his purpose by founding a scholarship program if he wins a competition to secure the funds. His success seems assured…until the brilliant and beautiful emissary of a mysterious competitor enters the race.

Lady Tessa Harmsworth, daughter of an Earl with no use for female intellect, has fabricated the reclusive Mr. Pettibone as the champion of her women’s education fund. It’s the only way a woman can enter the competition, let alone win it. And Tessa intends to win…until her annoyingly clever and irksomely attractive opponent sets out to uncover her ruse.

As Tessa and James match wits, their contentious rivalry turns into a passionate affair. With the coveted prize hanging in the balance, they must choose between their lifelong dreams and their reckless hearts.

Too Clever by Half is the kickoff novella of the Harrow’s Finest Five series. If you like stories about smart women, sexy men, steamy passions, and the occasional scandal, you’ll love Nancy Yeager’s exciting new Victorian Romance series!

4 thoughts on “Nancy: Novella (.5) Cover Copy

  1. I love the cover copy!

    This part, though?

    “Two fierce competitors engaged in a battle of intellects might just be outwitted by love…”

    I think it’ll be fine with a well-defined picture of battling lovers. But the words alone don’t carry the message until the end. (Also, ellipses — unless there’s a convention, it’s dot space dot space dot space and then a period to end it if it’s the end of a sentence. Also, I don’t know enough about the conventions, but is it an Earl? I would understand it completely if it was an Earl With No Use for Female Intellect, because that was a common device in 18th century writing, and I believe it carried over. Hell, I still use it and love it. But I am a Female Who Loves an Arch Tone Conveyed by Typography. Just noting this because it sticks out to me.)

    Your progress is so exciting! Keep on doing the good work!

    • Thank you. Good eye! The ellipsis…totally unnecessary :-). And earl is capitalized only because I’ve been typing Earl Radcliffe in book 2. Like baron, it should be lowercase.

      For the hook, do you mean you don’t get the message until the end of that line, or until the end of all of the copy? The theory behind cover copy, at least as it’s being taught in the course I’m following, is that each sentence and paragraph ending is the place to pack the punch with content, genre-specific word choice, even word sound (frex, ending with hard consonants as opposed to soft ones). If the hook is too vague, though, and wouldn’t pull you in to read the rest of the copy, I can work on that. I have 20+ versions of a hook, none of them this one, so I’ve got someplace to start!

      • I just mean that line in isolation. “Two fierce intellects” to my sexist mind brings to mind two guys. But the line won’t be in isolation — it’ll have the cover, the blurb, and the reader will probably be looking for a romance. So maybe it’s OK.

        Yesterday I thought that maybe you could start with something about The bluestocking and the (period slang for gentleman bookworm) . . . but I don’t know.

        Overall, I think I’d like to see more work on the hook. You do have to grab them at the beginning, the middle and the end.

        • “James and Lady Tessa can compete intellectually, but they are both outwitted by love.” Hmm. That loses a lot of the nuance, though — however, nuance that your reader will only catch after reading the first chapter, then going back and reading the cover copy! I don’t really like my version, but what I do like is m/f, and “set in Britain, probably pre-WWI”. (-: And of course, your words. I really like the “outwitted by love” even though they are both smart implication.

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