To attract readers, you need 3 Cs.

Content. Cover. And Copy. (This is where I come in.)

Copywriting is the skill of reducing your work to its essence and making it irresistible to the reader.

The back cover, the blurb, the puff quote, the tag line, the elevator pitch… let’s break this down.


Some terms (which vary across the publishing world)

Blurb/description/cover copy:

The answer to what’s it about. Who, what, where and why will you love it?

Here’s one I prepared for my Triskele colleague, Gillian Hamer, for her crime novel Crimson Shore.

Crimson ShoreA half-naked woman dead in a ditch. A disappearing pathologist. A teenager run off the road. For a peaceful island, Anglesey is experiencing abnormal levels of crime. What’s the connection?

DS Dara Brennan has women problems. His boss, Amanda Gold, is embroiled in office politics and his wife thinks he’s a disappointment. And then there’s DS Kelly Jones.

As missing-person cases become murder enquiries, Dara must put aside his personal life and focus on the killer’s trail. The only tenuous link between the victims is an abandoned children’s home. What happened there, twenty years ago? And who is hell-bent on revenge?

Dara is keeping his eyes on the road. But he forgets to look in the mirror.

Elevator pitch: 11 OverlordOne or two liner which conveys the essence of the story, emotion and character. Can be used on advertising, social media and even in an elevator. Example:

My name is Zabdas: once a slave; now a warrior, grandfather and servant. I call Syria home. I shall tell you the story of my Zenobia: Warrior Queen of Palmyra, Protector of the East, Conqueror of Desert Lands…

Beatrice Stubbs Box Set One_KINDLE KOBO



Tagline/Strapline: Words on the front cover which hint at the story.

Behind Closed Doors: Fat Cats are dying. Did their conscience get to them? Or did someone else?

Raw Material: You never know who’s watching

Tread Softly: You don’t attract trouble. You go looking for it.




Aidan Isherwood:

“On Saturday night I had a planning dinner with Luna Miller, whose debut Scandi noir I am translating. I waited for the right moment to present what I knew would be the highlight of the evening. I read aloud Jill Marsh’s draft blurb for the book. I swear I saw tears. Luna was moved. “That’s my book. My book.”

I had given Jill my description of the characters and plot and the synopsis.  Not only did she understand exactly what the author wanted to say, she picked out things we had overlooked. She saw qualities in the story that we had missed.”

Jane Davis:

“Sometimes you need another person to hold a mirror up to what you have written. Nowhere is that truer than the copy for the back cover of a finished novel. Call it book description or blurb, it is quite possibly the most excruciating 150 words an author will ever have to write. Arguably, the author is the worst person for the job. What is required is distance.

Jill Marsh’s particular form of wizardry is to distil and condense, cutting right to the chase.  My response to her first draft: ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to get across!’ Reading it, I can almost feel the way that I will describe the novel in future change. I can hear myself selling it without having to resort to the hard sell. The novel she describes is one that I want to pick up. Plus, Jill is the queen of great headlines.”

Suzy Henderson – author of The Beauty Shop

“Not only was Jill enthusiastic and professional, but she even spent time doing her own research on my project, going above and beyond the call of duty. Her first draft was great and she captured the essence of my story from the sliver of information I had passed over and the synopsis. Jill managed to inject just the right amount of personality and conflict and my blurb is amazing. As soon as I read it, I knew it was ‘the one’ and I saw instantly everything that I had overlooked.”



 What I offer:

1 back cover blurb

1 elevator pitch

2 suggested taglines


How it works:

Stage One: You send me a query note (max one page)

Comments on genre/style, elements of the book such as symbols or killer lines, motifs, authors/books you’d compare yours to – eg, Bridget Jones meets Game of Thrones, why it’s special, your timescale

Stage Two: If I think I can help, I’ll accept the job. Then I need

Your synopsis (max three pages)

Outline the entire plot including the ending and any important subplots

The first chapter (max ten pages)

Payment (see below for flat-rate charge and payment methods)*

One email/Skype consultation

Stage Three:

According to agreed timescale, I deliver

1 back cover blurb

1 elevator pitch

2 suggested taglines



£50.00 / $75.00/ €65 / 70CHF

Payable via Paypal

Contact me for Stage One – jill (at) nuancewords (dot) org