Posts Tagged ‘manuscript’

Who Writes Book Jacket Copy?

Sometimes the author is asked by the publisher to write the jacket copy/marketing piece. Sometimes the publisher has staff to write them or they hire freelancers.

Years ago Libba Bray freelanced for publishers; her job was to read manuscripts/galleys/advance reading copies and write  jacket copy.  I remember when Editor-in-Chief at Kensington Publishing Corp. NY John Scognamiglio sent me the jacket copy that Libba had written for my novel Love Made of Heart, I cried and cried thankful tears.  Thank you, Libba!

Love Made of Heart – Twenty-seven-year-old Ruby Lin has what many women envy: a beautiful apartment in one of San Francisco’s best neighborhoods, a busy social life, and a coveted position as manager of special events for the tony St. Mark’s Hotel. But it’s Ruby’s personal life that’s become unmanageable ever since the day her mother’s emotional breakdown forced Ruby to hospitalize her, shaming the family. Now, Ruby is caught in the crossroads between two vastly different cultures—one in which she is the American girl, raised on kitschy television shows and black-and-white movies, and one in which she is known only as Daughter, the eldest, fulfiller of responsibilities.

In putting together the pieces of her mother’s life, Ruby finds herself exploring the wounds of her own past. Starting with a forbidden locked tin box and the yellowing photograph inside, Ruby embarks on a startling journey of self-discovery that takes her through a family history rife with violence, betrayal and loss that reaches back through generations, from China to America, and finally to the secret pain of a mother’s sacrifice. Like the Chinese calligraphy that adorns her walls, Ruby comes to see that “life is not a straight road,” but a language drawn with many brush strokes, where every misunderstanding must yield to the simple message of the heart.

Filled with warmth and wisdom, this luminous debut novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in fiction as it explores the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, the choices that divide us, and the love that brings us home.

Libba Bray has become a beloved author of novels for young adults/teens. Her literary works include:

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)
Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)
The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, #3)
Going Bovine
Beauty Queens

I am so happy for Libba!

I encourage everyone to write a book jacket for your manuscript.  The piece will help you answer the questions: “Is my story as enticing as the book jacket?” and “Does the jacket copy follow the plotline of my story?”


Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan

Author of Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW (print edition $12.96  & eBook edition $9.81)

and the novel Love Made of Heart (inspires adult children of mentally ill parents to speak openly about the stigmas and find resources for their families)

I love helping writers identify themes and archetypes in their manuscripts and make their names synonymous with the subject matters/issues they write about to a attract agents, editors, publishers, readers, and media attention before and after publication. Reach out, not stress out, when pursuing your dreams!

Please visit my website

If you wish to email me, I’m writingcoachTeresa at



Motoko Rich’s article in The New York Times got me running to my bookshelves to look for my copy of The Portable Jung that was edited by Joseph Campbell. Jung’s text was translated by R.F.C. Hull.

On the same shelf is The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler–this book (about archetypes and stages of the hero’s journey) is one of the secret tools in my Writer’s Tool Box.

When I edit a manuscript, I always look for ways to help my client identify the archetypes in his/her story.  Memorable characters make for a good read.

Rich says that The Red Book is considered the Holy Grail by many Jungians. Speaking of the Holy Grail, I saw Angela Berquist, Ph.D. and her husband Michael Betts at the California Writers Club party in San Mateo this month.  Angela is the author of The Grail Reclaimed: A New View of An Old Symbol.

Motoko Rich’s article in The New York Times “Dreamy Sales of Jung Book Stir Analysis”
Published: December 24, 2009

Excerpts from Motoko Rich's article "Dreamy Sales of Jung Book Stir Analysis" in The New York Times

Excerpts from Motoko Rich's article "Dreamy Sales of Jung Book Stir Analysis" in The New York Times

Excerpts from the article:
As online and big-box retailers hustle to outdo themselves in discounts, “The Red Book” by Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, has surprised booksellers and its publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, by bucking the economy and becoming difficult, and in some cases impossible, to find in bookstores around the country.

“We were absolutely amazed,” said Elaine Petrocelli, an owner of Book Passage, an independent company with bookstores in San Francisco and suburban Corte Madera, Calif. “Here you have a $195 book in what’s supposed to be a bad time, and we have many, many orders for it. I think we have over 20 orders for it.”

The book is considered the Holy Grail by many Jungians, who for years had only heard rumors of its existence. For decades Jung’s descendants kept the original, leather-bound volume, which Jung worked on between 1912 and 1928, locked in a bank vault.

Full article on:

A related article in The New York Times

Talk about writers collaborating and having fun… Barbara Whittaker, GM of The Axe & Palm Café, Stanford University, created a literary series and invited yours truly Teresa LeYung Ryan, author of Love Made of Heart, to kick-off the new program on November 12, 2009. Dear friend Elisa Southard, author of Break Through the Noise: 9 Tools to Propel Your Marketing Message, showed up to take photos and video. What a delightful evening.  My hubby was there to record and cheer.

Teresa LeYung Ryan shows Chinese word for "love" and Barbara Whittaker holds Teresa's novel Love Made of Heart

Teresa LeYung Ryan shows Chinese word for "love" and Barbara Whittaker holds Teresa's novel Love Made of Heart

Stanford students Natalia, Chana Rose, Zach with Teresa LeYung Ryan (middle) and Barbara Whittaker (right)

Stanford students Natalia, Chana Rose, Zach with Teresa LeYung Ryan (middle) and Barbara Whittaker (right)

small photo Lyle Ryan & Teresa LeYung Ryan photo by Elisa Southard

Lyle Ryan & Teresa LeYung Ryan

Stanford students Natalia Birgisson, Chana Rose Rabinovitz and Zach O’Keeffe read scenes with me. These young people made a deep impression on me.

David, thank you for setting up P/A system; Anthony, thank you for tranforming space; Scott (Barbara’s hubby), thank you for helping with sound-check. Friends who couldn’t attend, thank you for sweet  emails and voicemails.

Stanford students & The Axe & Palm Cafe staff are memorable characters.

The heroes & heroines at The Axe & Palm Cafe with Teresa and Barbara, photo by Elisa

The heroes & heroines at The Axe & Palm Cafe with Teresa and Barbara, photo by Elisa

Everyone at Stanford who contributed their time and energy also deserve praise.

QUESTIONS that I answered:

  • Is Love Made of Heart autobiographical?
  • Where do you get your ideas for stories?
  • What other genres do you write?
  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
  • You write about sobering subject matters; what do you do for fun?

A portion of the proceeds from book sales was donated to Save-the-Libraries.

Thank you, Barbara Whittaker, for further promoting literacy and sharing your brainchild with us!

Stanford student Mitchell Holt represented Marketing Dept. with authors Teresa LeYung Ryan & Elisa Southard

Stanford student Mitchell Holt represented Marketing Dept. with authors Teresa LeYung Ryan & Elisa Southard

Cyberspace Coach Linda Lee reminds us the vitality of blogs.

Plot Coach and Author Martha Alderson asked me to blog about building a platform/promoting novels.

Read blog comment

Martha, thank you for posting this subject. Promoting a novel or memoir is a major challenge because unless you are already a best-selling author or your publisher has committed a six-figure marketing budget for your book, how do you give your book the attention it deserves?

I remember how excited I was when my mother-daughter novel Love Made of Heart was released by New York publisher Kensington. Although I landed readings/signings at bookstores (through friends’ and colleagues’ help), I soon received this response from media folks: “We can’t interview/invite you. Not interested in novels…”

Then, Elisa Southard (non-fiction author and PR coach) came along. She said: “YOU are bigger than your book. What are the ‘issues’ in your novel?”

Then, Anny Cleven (Area Marketing Director at Borders Books) reminded me that I was shedding light on ‘mental illness’ and ‘domestic violence’ in the Asian-American community.

Kim McMillon, friend and colleague, pitched me to be a guest on KPIX “Bay Sunday” when she saw that I was ready to speak out on the issues. I became Teresa LeYung Ryan who advocates compassion for mental illness and the author who helps survivors of family violence find their own voices.

Now that I’m a career coach for writers, I encourage all my clients to build their platforms by articulating the themes in their stories as community/national/global concerns.

So, after you have used the tools from Blockbuster Plots to structure your story and you have the first draft of your project, look for the issues or self-help elements to weave what Martha Alderson calls “thematic significance.”

Writers who have spent years working on their books (fiction or non-fiction) deserve recognition for their dedication. I want to see all diligent writers shed light on “the issues” and thus speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Happy Writing!

Teresa LeYung Ryan

author of Love Made of Heart

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Nina Amir of Write Non-Fiction in November asked me to blog about “How to Make Your Manuscript Compelling” and so I wrote “How to Look at Your Manuscript with an Editor’s Lens”

How to Look at Your Manuscript with an Editor’s Lens

By Teresa LeYung Ryan

Manuscript Consultant and Career Coach


Since writing a story with the intent to engage the reader is so much like meeting a stranger and wanting him/her to be interested in you, I will focus on how to make the first quarter of your story a compelling read.

I love working with diligent writers who want to transform their manuscripts into page-turners. However, there are things you can do before you give your work to an editor. Let me show you how you can help yourself.

As an editor, the four biggest mistakes I encounter are manuscripts that are weak in these elements:

  • Planting hook(s) or story-question(s);
  • Grounding the reader with the three Ws (Who? When? Where?);
  • Showing (not telling) what the protagonist wants;
  • Paying attention to language and rules

Let’s learn from the pros.

Planting Hook or Story-Question:

In The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, Maxine Hong Kingston hooks us with the first line: “You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you…” Then, Ms. Kingston transitions into her story with: “Whenever she had to warn us about life, my mother told stories that ran like this one . . .”

Grounding the Reader with the Three Ws:

In Woven of Water, while the story timeline spans from 1957 to 2005, Californian author Luisa Adams brilliantly shows us who she was as a girl (not with a year-by-year narrative, but with a single exquisite chapter). Because she grounded us with “who, when, where,” we eagerly follow as she takes us into her enchanted world of a “cottage in the forest.”

Showing What the Protagonist Wants:

In The Other Mother, young Carol Schaefer wants to ask questions: “Was there any way to keep my baby? Was there anyone who would help me find a way to do that?”

Paying Attention to Language and Rules:

Read the first five pages of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and you will see how this wordsmith plays with language and rules. (You can “bend” the rules to create flow, but you must not ignore them.)

Sentences Deserve Your Attention:

Nina Amir’s post on her blog is a must-read.

Remember Groucho Marx’s line “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas…”? That sentence got a lot of laughs. But, what if you didn’t want to be funny (ambiguous in this case)?

How would you rewrite these poorly constructed sentences?

  • He likes to fish near the Farallon Islands and they jump when they’re hungry at dawn or dusk.
  • She insists on knowing when I come home and leave, not to be nosy, but for safety reasons.
  • Being cautious as not to step on the dog’s tail, the children tip-toed away from him while sleeping.
  • My husband still in bed snoring, I have always enjoyed rising before dawn and I eat my toast and drink my green tea on the terrace.

To improve your sentence structure and other skills, I recommend these books:

  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
  • Woe is I: Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner

More Advice:

  • In all four stories (The Woman Warrior, Woven of Water, The Other Mother, Angela’s Ashes), the authors present memorable experiences by employing authentic details, unusual story-worlds though real, and poetic language. You want to do the same for your story.
  • Also, these stories have another vital component-all four plotlines have what Martha Alderson, author of Blockbuster Plots, Pure and Simple, calls “Cause and Effect” linked scenes. Another must-read blog: Plot Whisperer
  • When you’re writing non-fiction and do not have the luxury of rearranging the sequence of events to create a page-turning plotline, you can engage the reader by using concise expositions to leap over blocks of time in order to focus on the core themes and fast-forward the story. A helpful website:
  • You the author must show the reader what the protagonist wants, even if the protagonist doesn’t know at first.
  • We don’t have to “like” a protagonist, but, we do need to connect with him/her on an emotional level.

In the fiercely competitive arena of the publishing world, how does one stand out in a crowd? Building relationships is one key to success in this business. Another key is to know how to translate the themes from your life to your writing and articulate those themes as community concerns. I want to see all hardworking writers realize their dreams.

My best wishes to you!

Teresa LeYung Ryan

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If you’d like a website or blog that speaks your messages, ask Linda Lee to design one for you.


Smart Women, Stupid Computers

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