Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Real Masterpiece!

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that I once wrote back-cover copy for paperback novels at a hundred bucks a shot. Having struggled to crank out evocative copy from a quick look at a manuscript, I've always considered it a cop-out when I see back-cover copy and front pages filled with nothing but quotes from reviewers and other authors--most of them excerpted from longer sentences. A few examples:
  • "... a real masterpiece ..."
  • "... a shining example of quality literature ..."
  • "The best thing the author has ever written ..."
I often wonder what the cover-copy writers left out. I like to imagine the original quotes were something like these (excerpted lines in bold):
  • "If this novel had been written by anyone else, it would have been a real masterpiece."
  • "Anyone who calls this a shining example of quality literature is nuts!"
  • "The best thing the author has ever written was a short story published in 1975. He hasn't turned out anything worthwhile since!"
Okay, that's funny! Less funny are the attempts to link a book by an unknown writer with work by a known writer. To me, it's like a fake promise, to the effect, "You'll like this as much as the other book." It's the same kind of pimping that goes on with films. "From the director of..." "Starring the lead from ...". The idea is to get you to go see or buy the film thinking it will be the same experience as the director or actors' previous film. That can never be. It's not the same story, not the same actors, not the same setting. But all that is a subject for another post.
Copyright 2007, Michael A. Banks

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