Today’s post is written by Kyle R. Bell.
Copywriting is salesmanship in print.
The purpose of all copywriting is to sell the product or service you’re promoting.
Writing fiction may be an art, but publishing fiction involves carefully crafted strategies to tell—and sell—your story to readers.
When it comes to publishing, who creates the copy for your fiction?
People like me do.
But here’s the thing: a well-crafted piece of fiction sells itself, and there are easy, time-tested copywriting strategies you can use to strengthen your fiction from the get-go.
Here are three strategies I use as a copywriter that you can use in your own writing:
Hero vs Villain
We’re all familiar with the classic story of good versus evil. What you want to do is make your hero the product you’re promoting, and then choose a villain your hero can defeat.
When I write copy, I think about all of the benefits my client’s product or service offers (the hero), and all of the benefits the competitor (the villain) offers.
And I ask myself this question: In what areas are the hero’s benefits better than the villain’s?
For example, on one occasion I was writing an autoresponder (beginning sequence of an email marketing campaign) for a client who worked in the fitness industry.
My client’s niche as a fitness trainer was weight loss. She’d struggled to lose weight for years, and she still struggles now and again.
So, I positioned her service as someone in the trenches experiencing the same pain and anguish her ideal clients are going through.
I talked about how only a few weight loss coaches still struggle with weight loss, and how the weight loss coaches with ripped physiques would not understand how it feels to miss their weight loss goals year after year.
Who would you trust in this case? Someone who’s in the field alongside you (the hero)? Or someone directing you from a distance on what to do next (the villain)?
When you sit down to write your next story, think about these questions. When you understand what makes your hero special, you can easily show your readers why the hero is the person they should trust and support.
The Hero’s Plight
Every hero has trials and tribulations they must face. That’s what makes them a hero.
Here’s an example of how I’ve used the Hero’s Plight from a copywriting perspective:
I was working on an eBook for a microcap stock investor, and I learned that many seasoned investors look at microcap stocks as burdensome investments.
Microcap stocks are small businesses. So on paper, they don’t reveal any significant value, as opposed to blue-chip stocks.
Seasoned investors prefer investing their money into companies with strong reputations. Little did these seasoned investors know that microcap stocks have some of the best YTD (year-to-date) returns.
What I did was rename the eBook How to Be Rich, because getting rich happens for many seasoned investors when they choose the right small businesses to allocate capital towards long-term.
What did the title change do?
It made my client the hero of his own story—someone who faced trials but developed skills, took risks, and used his own ingenuity to overcome those challenges.
It also boosted signups for his newsletter.
So how do you apply this principle to your work of fiction?
When you tell a story, describe the life-changing events the protagonist experiences and what skills they developed or what they learned that allowed them to face the antagonist—and prevail.
The AIDA Formula
AIDA—Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action—is one of the most popular formulas we copywriters use, because it’s so easy.
Here’s an example of how I used this formula recently.
I was helping a friend write a book blurb for his historical fiction novel.
First, I drew attention by creating a compelling opening line: “Undeterred and uneasy about the spoils of war, Luciano has a tough civil resistance to face with his clan.”
The first line in any book blurb acts as your headline. Make sure it holds the reader’s attention.
Now that I had the reader’s attention, I had to think of a way to hold their interest in reading the book blurb.
Persuasive copy makes you want to read the next sentence, so the next sentence I wrote pinpointed the consequences of what could happen in the story.
I wrote, “Luciano’s failure will mean he faces his untimely demise”—a bold statement to interest the reader in Luciano’s plight.
Next, I had to consider what kind of desires historical fiction readers have. I came up with the idea of fighting for the fate of the twentieth century. Any reader who loves history would appreciate the big stakes.
Finally, how did action play a role in this book blurb?
What I did was choose one event about the spoils of war. I mentioned the fight against Mussolini and fascism.
And it worked like a charm.
To apply the AIDA formula to your fiction, think of one big promise your readers look forward to learning about your protagonist and your antagonist.
Once you understand the big promise, you can map out the character arcs for your story.
The next time you begin writing, keep these three easy copywriting strategies in mind to help you create a new story you can be proud to show your friends, family, loved ones, and—most importantly—your ideal readers.