Thursday, August 10, 2017

Blurbs, back cover copy and pitches – oh, my! by Lisa Phillips

My first ever Love Inspired Suspense I pitched to editor Emily Rodmell with only 100 words. There isn’t a lot of give in that word count, and in that pitch competition I had to be short, to the point and punchy (it was suspense, after all).

Sabine Fraternau, CIA agent, is on the hunt for her brother’s killer. When the Delta Force soldier she loves barges in, the mission goes from bad…to busted. Doug “MacArthur” Richardson is all military, a man of faith with no room in his life for love. When Sabine is accused of betraying her country, Doug is the only one who believes the woman he’s falling for is innocent. But after her ex-husband’s betrayal, Sabine doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Together they have to find the killer and prove Sabine’s innocence, before the nightmare of her past comes back…to kill her. 

Only 100 words, and it packs a huge amount of information in.

Let’s break it down.

A female CIA agent hunting a murderer.

It’s a reunion romance (a hook in Love Inspired novels, and something I knew she’d be looking for.)

The hero is Delta Force, also on a mission. But he’s not looking for love.

Sabine gets betrayed, Doug tries to help but she’s got baggage (are you surprised?)

They have to face down the killer – with a solid link to Sabine’s past in the final twist.

What are your hooks?

Is it a reunion romance? Is there a single mom, a cowboy, is it Amish? What sets your book apart from other novels in a way that would peak an editor or agent’s interest? Maybe there’s a unique setting (like my Sanctuary series, which features a secret witness protection town in the mountains.)

Let’s break down the pitch, and how it’s crafted.

1. Main character #1 - who is this person in a nutshell? If their job isn’t relevant, don’t put it in. But what do they WANT?
2. Main character #2 - do the same.
3. What is going to keep them from this goal? Let your editor know this book has CONFLICT that won’t easily be resolved. Lines like Love Inspired Suspense need conflict in the plot and conflict in the relationship. Make sure it’s all there.
4 and 5: How is the situation going to be resolved? How will the characters work it out? Does faith play in? What about the Antagonist (if there is one)? What’s he up to? 

The first thing I do is answer the questions above. That gives me a big mess whole lot of wonderful details and pertinent information. From there I can refine and refine and refine until it’s a single shiny paragraph.

HINT: If it’s back cover copy, DON’T GIVE AWAY THE ENDING!!

An editor wants to know the twists. You can’t assume they’ll be reading your manuscript so they’ll find out the big twist then. They probably won’t. Give them all you’ve got up front. It’s your once chance to impress them.

For back cover copy (if you’re publishing independently, hats off to you – I do both) then you’ll need to craft the paragraph in a way that draws the reader in. Will he get the girl? Will they save the day together, or die trying? Genre conventions can answer those questions for you, but your job as a writer is to make the reader BELIEVE that there’s a chance the character might not win. That way the victory is all the sweeter.

And guess what? That’s my advice for you while you’re crafting that pitch paragraph for your novel.

Success is hard work – but it’s worth it in the end.

Lisa Phillips is a British ex-pat who grew up an hour outside of London, Lisa attended Calvary Chapel Bible College where she met her husband. He’s from California, but nobody’s perfect. It wasn’t until her Bible College graduation that she figured out she was a writer (someone told her). Since then she’s discovered a penchant for high-stakes stories of mayhem and disaster where you can find made-for-each-other love that always ends in happily ever after. 
Lisa can be found in Idaho wearing either flip-flops or cowgirl boots, depending on the season. She leads worship with her husband at their local church. Together they have two children--a sparkly Little Princess and a Mini Daddy--and an all-black Airedale known as The Dark Lord Elevator.

Lisa’s new book is out this month!! It’s her 8th Love Inspired Suspense and marks five years since that pitch competition!

Amid the idyllic scenery of Hawaii, rookie Secret Service agent Alana Preston is attacked, and a sinister plot to assassinate the president begins taking shape. But nobody seems to believe Alana, and she doesn’t know who she can trust—except Secret Service director James Locke. Now, with an assassin hiding in plain sight on the island, she and James may be the president’s last line of defense. The closer they get to cracking the case, however, the more intertwined their lives become. And they must fight to keep their hearts out of it. With the life of the commander-in-chief in their hands, falling in love could be a deadly distraction…

AMAZON     NOOK     iTunes     KOBO

You can sign up for Lisa’s mailing list HERE and get a free book!


  1. What an interesting post - and I can't wait to read Homefront Defenders! Blessings!

  2. Enjoyed this insight into dissecting the blurb, Lisa!

  3. Hi Lisa, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to spend with us. As someone targeting LIS, I found your post very interesting. I'm signing up for your newsletter and looking forward to reading Homefront Defenders.

  4. Thank you for this insightful look at writing pitches Lisa! I already have Homefront Defenders and my husband was deployed to Hawaii last July for RIMPAC so I'm looking forward to reading it.


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