Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Importance of the Tell and Sell

I’ve been working on what I call the “Tell and Sell” for my new novel Ribbon of Darkness. (I call it the tell and sell because hopefully, once you tell it, you will sell it.) Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Describe your novel in one word: Adventure.

Describe your novel in one sentence: Ethan Barak is a cross between Jack Bauer and James Bond--a man seeking personal redemption who ends up trying to save the world from a terrorist attack.

Describe your novel in thirty seconds.

Ethan Barak sets out to find his father’s killers and ends up in the middle of an international terrorist attack. He finds himself in an impossible situation when Kennedy Campbell---an international journalist---is thrown into the mix. Ethan has believed for so long that he could never let anyone close to him because of his job as an MI-6 informant, but Kennedy is a woman who intrigues him with her courage in the face of danger. He wants to let her in, but is afraid to risk her life. Ribbon of Darkness is a high stakes romantic suspense that will keep you turning pages all night long.

Yeah, it’s a work in progress. But there are four great things that having a stellar and crisp Tell and Sell will do for you.

1. A good tell and sell will help you focus on what’s important in your novel.

2. A good tell and sell will help give you ideas for your back copy.

3. A good tell and sell will help you write your query.

4. A good tell and sell will help you answer the question, “What’s your book about?” which is the one thing you will get asked most once your book is published and you never want to say, “Um, it’s about this guy . . .”

Have you thought about your tell and sell for your work in progress? It’s not as easy as it looks. If you haven’t ever tried to write one, you should. And tell me how it goes. Sell me on it!


Noble M Standing said...


I tried this and it was so awesome! I totally know my character arc now for this story. I'm going to have to do this for allmy WIP and ideas. What an awesome tool.

Here goes: Storm Compass

One word: Growing up (i couldn't think of one word for this concept)

One sentence: What began as an escape to save his family becomes a quest to discover what Jacobi’s birthday present really is—and why his grandfather had the rusty medallion in the first place.

30 seconds: Seventeen year old Jacobi receives what he thinks is a worthless medallion as a gift from his long lost grandfather. When it appears the entire world is after his birthday present he runs to protect his family. As he gains an unlikely ally the medallion reveals itself to be a compass and it is pointing in a direction Jacobi has never gone—away from home and the security it has offered him his whole life. The compass sends the two on a trek across their amazing world and keeps them constantly just one step ahead of those who want it for themselves. The journey reveals more than just the origin and purpose of the compass—it defines friendship, and what it takes to grow up and be an adult.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Wow, Julie and Noble, both of your "Tell and Sell" posts sound excellent. :-) Jack Bauer meets James Bond? And Ethan is an MI-6 informant? Something tells me you want Richard Armitage to play that part, right? *g*

Jon Spell said...

So, did you consider that if your main characters get married, the wife will have a first name that's also the last name of a former president and a last name that's really close to the first name of the current president?


Ok, my WIP is not remotely completed, but here's the layout for what I have outlined:


A man's search for his lost family threatens to uncover a deadly secret.

A funeral in South Carolina sends Gabriel east to learn what he can about a brother he never knew he had. As he learns more, death seems to follow close behind him, along with Federal agents seeking to apprehend him. Will Gabriel discover the decades-old mystery about his family or will he become the next victim?

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Jon, I didn't think about that. Haha! Well, I guess they better not get married then. LOL I love your description! And Noble's. When can I read these novels! (I'm so glad you liked my little tell and sell exercise Noble.) :)

Melanie, the Richard Armitage picture on this blog would work nicely, thankyouverymuch! ;)

Melanie Goldmund said...

Julie, that picture is one of the best of Richard ever taken! :-) Nice blog there, too.

I've been thinking about the "tell and sell" for my fanfic, and you're right, it's not as easy as it looks. Urgh!

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Thanks for breaking it down that way. I'm going to try it on my current WIP.