Ask BHP + Giveaway: Who writes the short descriptions in the back of books?

Hello dear readers! Rachael here! You may have seen my blog post back in May where I talked about writing the synopsis on the back of our books. I’ve returned to talk about another intriguing responsibility that I have as the company’s copywriter. . . .

If you grab almost any Bethany House book and flip to the last few pages, you will find book recommendations—or as we call them, the back-of-book ads (BOBs for short).

Nearly a year before our books release—before I write the back cover copy and often before the book is even written—our marketing team works with our authors to write a book synopsis that makes its way into our seasonal catalog and online. They take an author’s original synopsis from their proposal that could be anywhere from one page to ten pages and shorten it down to about 150 words.

Once those are approved and edited, it’s up to me to deliver an even shorter description to our marketing team that is 360 characters or less . . . including spaces. Counting the fiction titles only, I write approximately 15 of these every four months—but counting our nonfiction divisions, I spend over a week writing at least 40 of these.

They are so fun to write, but they are not easy in the least. Not only do I need to cut a three paragraph synopsis down to three sentences, but I also need to make sure that I’m hooking a reader’s attention while delivering a concise and intriguing book description. They also have to run by our marketing team and editorial team for review and some usually are rewritten multiple times until we can guarantee that it is perfect.

Not only will you see these in our back-of-book ads, but they also make appearances in newsletters, print and digital ads, and on our social media accounts too!

Here are the short descriptions that I wrote for our November releases. Let me know which ones stand out to you!

After an abusive relationship derails her plans, Adri Rivera struggles to regain her independence and achieve her dream of becoming an MMA fighter. She gets a second chance, but the man who offers it to her is Max Lyons, her former training partner, whom she left heartbroken years before. As she fights for her future, will she be able to confront her past?

After She Falls by Carmen Schober

As the nation’s most fearless travel columnist, Augusta Travers explores the country, spinning stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. Suddenly caught in a scandal, she escapes to India to visit old friends, promising great tales of boldness. But instead she encounters a plague, new affections, and the realization that she can’t outrun her past.

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy

After a deadly explosion at the Chilwell factory, munitions worker Rosalind Graham leaves the painful life she’s dreamt of escaping by assuming the identity of her deceased friend. When RAF Captain Alex Baird is ordered to surveil her for suspected sabotage, the danger of her deception intensifies. Will Rose’s daring bid for freedom be her greatest undoing?

As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin

When a renowned profiler is found dead in his hotel room and it becomes clear the killer is targeting agents in Alex Donovan’s unit, she is called to work on the strangest case she’s ever faced. Things get personal when the brilliant killer strikes close to home, and Alex will do anything to find the killer—even at the risk of her own life.

Dead Fall by Nancy Mehl

How would you write a short description for your favorite new release? Write your blurb below and include the title. Remember, it has to be less than 360 characters!

We will choose three random entries to win a copy of any Bethany House book that released in 2020-2021.

*No purchase necessary. Giveaway ends on Tuesday, October 26 at midnight CT. Winners will be chosen at random on Wednesday, October 27. Winners will receive one copy of a 2020-2021 Bethany House book of their choice. US only. Winner must be 18 and older or have parental consent.

Carol Award Winners Giveaway!

Earlier this month, several Bethany House authors won the 2021 Carol Awards, awarded by the American Christian Fiction Writers. We always love celebrating our books…and giving them away to readers is fun too. Read a little about each one so you’ll know which you want to choose if you win, then find entry directions at the end of the post.

Dead End by Nancy Mehl

Mystery/Suspense Winner

Dead End Plot Summary: When multiple corpses are found, their remains point to a serial killer with a familiar MO but who’s been in prison for over twenty years–Special Agent Kaely Quinn’s father. In order to prevent more deaths, she must come face-to-face with the man she’s hated for years. In a race against time, will this case cost Kaely her identity and perhaps even her life?

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette

Historical Romance Winner

Like Flames in the Night Plot Summary: On a hunt for his daughter’s killer, Liyam’s last hope is a bargain to rescue a strong-willed woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted. Can Tirzah convince him to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will his thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, God, and the woman he’s come to love?

Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray

Contemporary Romance Winner

Love and a Little White Lie Plot Summary: After hitting rock bottom, January decides she has nothing to lose in working at her aunt’s church–while hiding a lack of faith. A minor deception until she meets the church’s guitarist and sparks fly. Can she avoid disaster–especially when a handsome landscape architect has an annoying ability to push her to deal with feelings she’d rather keep buried?

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green

Historical Fiction and Debut Novel Winner

things-we-didnt-say Plot Summary: In this epistolary novel from the WWII home front, Johanna Berglund is forced to return to her small Midwestern town to become a translator at a German prisoner-of-war camp. There, amid old secrets and prejudice, she finds that the POWs have hidden depths. When the lines between compassion and treason are blurred, she must decide where her heart truly lies.

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser

Contemporary Fiction Winner

promised-land Plot Summary: Desperate to mend her marriage and herself, Abbie Jowett joins her son in walking the famed Camino pilgrimage. During their journey, they encounter an Iranian working in secret to help refugees and a journalist searching for answers from her broken past–and everyone is called into a deep soul-searching that threatens all their best laid plans.

To celebrate these authors and their lovely books, we’re giving away one of them to five winners (winner’s choice of which one). To enter, just comment on the blog with what earns a book a place on your “keeper” shelf. We’ll choose five random winners on 9/29, so be sure to enter before that!

Fiction Celebration Giveaway!

Last week, several Bethany House authors won and placed in the 2021 Selah Awards, connected with the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference.

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

2021 Fiction Book of the Year and First Place in Historical/Biblical fiction

right-kind-of-fool

Forever Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Second Place in Historical Romance Fiction

Forever Hidden

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Third Place (tie) in Historical/Biblical Fiction

Veiled in Smoke

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser

Third Place in General Fiction

promised-land

To celebrate these authors and their lovely books, we’re giving away all four of them in a special prize package. To enter, just comment on the blog with one of your favorite places to read a good book. We’ll choose a random winner on 6/16, so be sure to enter before that!

Giveaway to Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day!

The last Saturday in April is Independent Bookseller Day, and we’re excited to celebrate it with you! We love hearing about readers who have an amazing local bookstore or one they’ve “adopted,” whether in their hometown, a favorite vacation spot, or even that they order from online from a distance away. Booksellers are hardworking small business owners with a talent for connecting readers to great books. Their personal recommendations, special events, and love of reading are an inspiration to us.

Not sure if there’s a store near you that you can visit or order books from? Check out resources like IndieBound, where you can locate indie bookstores to visit. I love checking their site when I’m planning a road trip so I know where I should plan a shopping stop.

To celebrate this holiday, we’ll be giving away one of our spring books (reader’s choice) as well as a $20 gift card to Baker Book House, our own local indie bookstore. (They can ship anywhere in the US. International readers are free to enter as well, but we’ll substitute a different prize.)

You can enter by commenting with an answer to the question at the bottom of the post, but until then, enjoy some of our favorite memes and cartoons featuring bookstores.

To enter the giveaway, comment on this post with the answer to this question: what’s a favorite bookstore you’ve visited, and what did you like about it?

Winner will be contacted by April 30, 2021.

Reader Survey: Give Us Your Opinions!

I’m so excited to announce that Bethany House and Revell are looking for some insider information…by asking all of you a few questions!

We’ll ask you to choose between different back cover copy options, vote yes or no on what catches your attention, and give you examples to choose what works best for you. The survey should only take five minutes to complete.

And, if the fun of giving us your opinion isn’t enough, we’ll also be drawing the names of five participants to pick any book of their choice published by Bethany House or Revell in the past year. We’re so thankful to everyone who takes the time to make your voice heard.

Just go to this survey to get started. Can’t wait to see your answers!

Ask Bethany House 2021…and a Giveaway!

It’s a new year, readers, and that means that we need new questions from you to answer in our Ask Bethany House Publishers monthly feature. I always enjoy hearing what readers want to know, from the quirky to the informative to the wow-that-one-even-stumped-me.

Take a second and think through this list to generate ideas. Have you ever wondered…

  • Whether the tips about what a writer should “always” or “never” do when interacting with a publisher are actually true?
  • How one of the steps between an author writing a book and you picking it up off a shelf actually happens?
  • What we at Bethany House think about various trends or new developments in publishing?
  • If the nagging question that others have passed around on social media reader groups has an answer?

These are just a few prompts out of many to start your thinking. We welcome any and all questions to our Ask Bethany House poll.

Once you’ve submitted at least one question, just for fun, come back here and comment with a book that you’re looking forward to in the new year. We’ll enter you in a giveaway to win one of our January or December new releases and choose the winner on 1/14/21.

Christy Finalists 2020 Giveaway

We’re thrilled by the announcement today of the 2020 Christy Award finalists for excellence in Christian fiction, and are especially excited to announce that seven Bethany House titles are among them.

All are deserving of the honor, and we’ll be cheering their authors on next month when the winners are revealed (you can sign up for the free webcast here).

We decided it would be fun to hold a giveaway and will chose seven winners from the comments on this post. Each randomly-chosen winner can name one of the nominated books to receive as a prize (both Intrigue a la Mode and A Flood of Love are in the print collection Serving Up Love). To enter, just comment with your answer to this question: describe your ideal fancy apparel, worthy of a red-carpet event, whether you actually own it or not.

Summer Stacks Contest!

If you’re like us, you have quite a to-be-read pile…so why not have some fun with it for a little photo contest?

How to Enter: take an artistic picture of a stack of books – either ones you have yet to read, or ones you’ve read and loved! Then share it on Facebook or Instagram, tagging Bethany House Fiction and including the hashtag #SummerStacksContest. At least one of the books must be a Bethany House book. (Look for our logo on the spine to check!) The rest can be anything you like: any publisher, genre, or even nonfiction.

No social media? No problem. Send your picture to alokkesmoe@bethanyhouse.com, and I’ll include your entry too. The point, though, is to recommend some favorite books to others, so if you chose this option, don’t forget to spread a little love for those books by word of mouth.

Next Thursday, August 20th, we’ll select and contact four random winners plus a BHP’s choice winner to receive their choice of any two of our July or August new releases.

Want some examples? Here are some #SummerStacksContest photos we featured on our own Instagram account. They’re also the books you can chose from if you win!

What are you waiting for? Get started!

Dependence Day Giveaway!

Readers, I’d love to have you join me for a very special holiday tomorrow…Dependence Day!

What is Dependence Day, you ask? It’s a completely made-up holiday on July 3rd where we celebrate America’s former dependence on England. Strictly speaking, it’s less pining for the good ol’ days of British colonization and more about having an excuse to eat scones and drink tea, so if you’re an American, you can celebrate with your patriotism intact.

All that’s required is that you participate in some manner of vaguely British-themed activity, such as:

  • Using some Shakespearean insults.
  • Listening to the Beatles (or a more modern British band).
  • Planning a dream trip across the pond.
  • Searching the news for whatever the royal family is up to these days.
  • Watching Pride and Prejudice or anything BBC.
  • Reading a book set in England.

If that last one sounds perfect to you, we’ve got some great recommendations below for all you Anglophiles out there.

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes: Reeling from the loss of her parents, Lucie Clairmont discovers an artifact under the floorboards of their London flat, leading her to an old seaside estate. Aided by her childhood friend Dashel, a renowned forensic astronomer, they start to unravel a history of heartbreak, sacrifice, and love begun 200 years prior—one that may offer the healing each seeks.

The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen: While Benjamin investigates a mysterious death, evidence takes him to a remote island on the Thames. There, Isabelle is trapped by fear and has a recurring dream about a man’s death. Or is it a memory? When a murder brings everyone under suspicion, and the search for truth brings secrets to light, she realizes her island sanctuary will never be the same.

Line by Line by Jennifer Delamere: Years of hard work enabled Douglas Shaw to escape a life of desperate poverty—and now he’s determined to marry into high society to prevent reliving his old circumstances. But when Alice McNeil, an unconventional telegrapher at his firm, raises the ire of a vindictive co-worker, he must choose between rescuing her reputation and the future he’s always planned.

Vying for the Viscount by Kristi Ann Hunter (releases August 2020): When a strange man appears to be stealing horses at the neighboring estate, Bianca Snowley jumps to their rescue. And when she discovers he’s the new owner, she can’t help but be intrigued—but romance is unfeasible when he proposes they help secure spouses for each other. Will they see everything they’ve wanted has been there all along before it’s too late?

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White: In the midst of the Great War, Margot De Wilde spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But after a sudden loss, her world is turned upside down. Lieutenant Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by a destructive enemy. Immediately smitten with Margot, how can Drake convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

To celebrate Dependence Day, we’re giving away the winner’s choice of one of the titles above. To enter, just comment with the answer to the question below: what would be a place in England you’d enjoy visiting? (Or have visited.) We’ll choose a winner next Thursday, July 9th.

The Bethany House Grand World Tour…and Giveaway!

Wouldn’t you love to travel? To see the bright colors of India, stare at the ancient architecture of Egypt, or eat Gretel cakes in a cozy little restaurant by the sea? Oh wait. That’s right—we’re all quarantined.

I for one haven’t left my house in twenty days—yes, you read that right, twenty—and I’m getting a little stir crazy. Am I the only one? I doubt it. In light of this, Bethany House brings you a Grand World Tour, compliments of our talented authors! (And if you’re interested enough to complete your journey, the covers are all linked to Baker Book House, running a 30% off and free shipping special for online orders!)

Our first stop is A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy, which takes on a journey from Ithaca, New York to India and back again. The author draws on her own experience in that beautiful country to bring the setting alive. She makes it easy to wonder at the lush forests, colorful insects (don’t let that scare you), and strong Indian flavors right along with Nora, the main character.

Here is a sample of the exotic beauty found in A Mosaic of Wings:

“The oxen’s rumps swayed as they pulled the two-wheeled cart, which the driver had called a mattu vandi when he met them at the guest house in Madras. Above his head, Nora watched the dirt road wind into a copse of pine trees. All around them the hills dipped and lifted, disappearing into the hazy blue horizon toward the Nilgiri Mountains in the distance.

Nora raised off the floor a little. She could just spot the large lake thickly fringed by trees. Like jewels strung across a bangle, red-roofed houses crisscrossed the roads leading to and through the Kodaikanal hill station.”

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

Setting: Kodaikanal, India, July 1885

 

Next we have the West Indies in 1776, brought to you by Lisa Bergren. In her novel, Selah, the Caribbean comes bursting into full color and warmth, which is especially refreshing on these cool spring days. Who wouldn’t want to journey to this paradise? Although, as you will see if you read it, Selah is in for her own bit of world-changing drama.

Take a short excursion to Selah’s Caribbean home:

“Vervet monkeys chattered at them from the sprawling branches of a purple-flowered jacaranda tree, seeming to complain about the horses’ sudden appearance in their midst. A bird swooped overhead, crying out with his particular singsong call as if to make sure they admired his green, red, and gold breast. The wind rushed in gusts through the ferns and palms on either side of them. Selah closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, taking comfort in the sounds and sights of the island that had become her home.”

Selah by Lisa Bergren

Setting: West Indies island of Nevis, 1776

 

Leaving the lush greenery behind, we travel to Egypt, where Leif Metcalfe is trying to unscramble the mystery of his past. Not only does Kings Falling take us to the sand of Egypt, it is a world tour in itself, stopping in Africa, China, Taiwan, Afghanistan, The Netherlands, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Maryland, and Virginia.

But for our tour, we will only stop in Egypt:

“Crouched atop the mountain peak, he stared out over the rugged terrain. And that was putting it mildly. The ridges in this section of the Sahara Desert were serrated and forbidding. If you fell, you fell to your death. To his three were the glittering waters of the Red Sea. He shook his head. If he and his team had headed east, they’d have found water. Civilization. But they’d chosen the mountains for protection from the sun, heading south, then west.”

Kings Falling by Ronie Kendi

Setting: Jabal Shaib al-Banat, Egypt, present day

 

Heading back to the United States and a cooler climate, we come to Alaska. In Under the Midnight Sun, we see the proud face of mount Denali and all the flora and fauna surrounding him through the eyes of one of the first women naturalists, Taylor Hale.

Here is our sample of Alaskan beauty:

“Denali stood tall and fierce in the distance. Covered year-round in snow, today was a rare day when the High One allowed people to see him in his glory. A thin halo of clouds wrapped around his crown. The contrast of the massive mountain against the brilliant blue of the sky was glorious.

The air was still as everyone took in the grandeur before them. Lush valleys lay below them, covered in grasses of varying shades of green, the deep, almost black color of the spruce, and a riot of colorful wild flowers. Rivers snaked their way through the landscape like pathways leading to the great mountain. Thomas spotted the area where the Kahiltna Glacier cut its way down the mountain. Was there anywhere on earth that could compare to this? Was this what heaven would be like?”

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Setting: Curry, Alaska, 1929

 

Remember those Gretel cakes I mentioned in the beginning? Well, we have finally come to the cozy little town by the sea where you can eat them to your heart’s content! Or at least read about eating them. The little town, weathered by the ocean and filled with lobstermen and history, has captured many hearts.

Here is your first taste of this idyllic town:

“And there it is. Down the green hill, the harbor curves in a smile. White houses dot the coast, where all is quiet, save the steady lap of waves. Offshore, a scattering of islands trail into the sea, right up to where the two peninsulas come together in a near-embrace around the protected cove. This is what makes this place a haven. Sailors seek it out as a “hurricane hole,” a place to anchor until fierce storms pass, protected as it is.”

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Setting: Ansel-by-the-Sea, Maine, present day

That concludes our Grand World Tour. We hope you enjoyed it and will continue to discover the beauty of far-off places from the safety of your home!

We know that there are so many books we could have included on this list, but we’ll leave that to you! To win one of the books included on this list (your choice), comment with another book with a setting you’d love to visit. I’ll choose three winners on April 16th.