Recently, I talked about BISAC headers and their simultaneously freeing and restricting abilities to target broad swathes of readers.
Broad Across the Beam
How broad? How about things like Fiction or History or Humor? Yes, things as disparate as Dune is from Sense & Sensibility, or The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is from Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World, or Jeeves & Wooster is from The Bathroom Joke Book all sit very close to one another in those BISAC headers.
But they are able to drill down to specifics, although the trick there is getting everyone to agree on definitions. Fiction can become something as on point as Mystery & Detective/Women Sleuths. History can hone in on Canada/Pre-Confederation (to 1867). And Humor can dial up Form/Limericks & Verse if you absolutely must know what happened to that guy from Nantucket.
But what happens after BISAC?
So you’ve read all the stuff Rachel has been talking about with covers, right? And you’re up to date with my own stuff, especially the bits about promotional copy? If you haven’t, I’ll wait here for you. Go do that, then come back.
Ready? Okay, good.
That’s what happens after BISAC categories. I know, it feels like just nailing Fiction down rather than Gardening or Self-Help should be worth half the battle. And it is worth a lot. After all, you just cut the ocean down to Lake Michigan. Now, though, it’s time to actually get people to take a drink.
That’s where the cover and promotional copy come in. Once somebody goes looking for Fiction/Mystery & Detective/Women Sleuths, you use your cover and promotional copy to tell them whether they’re dealing with an aging writer living in a Maine coastal town with a death count higher than cholera or a hard-bitten daughter of a Chicago cop solving white collar murders.
What I mean is, if they’re in your category, you know they want books like yours. Now you leverage your cover and promotional copy to let them know actually want yours.
Targeting THE Reader
So you’ve drawn a bead on the category and put readers in your sights. Next, we’ll talk about putting the bullet of your story right through the brain pan of THE Reader. It’s the High Concept, the five sentences and fifteen seconds that will convince any single person to check out your story. It’s the Elevator Pitch…and it’s a lot harder than it looks.