How To Tell Your Book’s Backstory

If you’re working on a book right now, Imma let you in on a bizarre publishing secret.

You need to have a pithy meta marketing story that tells the story of how you began writing your story. 🤔

Also known as why you kept going or what amazing thing happened as you wrote your book. Like meeting Toni Morrison, who gave you a deadline for your first draft. Kinda like an elevator pitch but more like the story behind the story. Odd, no? But when you think about your book in marketing terms, this actually makes a shit ton of sense.

Ask yourself—why should anyone give a shit that you wrote a book?

Cause here’s Gods bare butt and honest truth: nobody gives a shit. Nobody cares it took you countless early mornings over many years to finish your book. We’re all sloughing through big dreams. Nobody cares how much it hurt you paying for expensive childcare so you could write. The reader you’re complaining to is neck high in childcare costs. Nobody cares writing that book almost cost your relationship. So what’s your job?

Make Them Care. How? Tell a compelling meta-marketing story!

Not the 300 page monster story you want them to folk hard earned greenbacks for first. No, that comes after you’ve won them with your, Why you should read my book story.

Most recently, I’ve heard Jonathan Escoffey describe his back story through all the shitty jobs he held down in a gritty Miami far from glitzy tourist beaches.

And his wanting to confront that reality with the very gritty Jamaica his parents left behind, also far from idyllic beaches and the cheap stereotypes people project onto JamRock.

Got your interest piqued, right? Like now you wanna read his book! 📚👌🏿 If I Survive You is bonkers ⚡️🧨🔥 brilliant, btw.

Another example is Taiye Selasi’s breakout. Her story behind the story included meeting Toni Morrison at Oxford (as one does 🙈😝) and sitting next to the Queen and confiding she’s a writer. The Queen, who also happened to be Selasi’s friend’s granny, gave Selasi a deadline for her first draft. And voila, the world got Ghana Must Go.

How bout you? What’s your title’s origin story?

Most of us don’t have friends with Nobel laureate grannies. But all of us have a hook that can pique the reader’s interest. Think of it like that first and flirty line your partner said to get you interested in the mere idea of getting down and dirty with them. Or maybe you lead with a strong come-on line…I dunno!

Me? My backstory for Innards has one word: apartheid.

Joking😛🤣 Not jk.

Innards came about cause I wanted to free myself from the long tentacles of apartheid’s reach. I wanted to look at my people beyond the white gaze; who are we outside our blackness? Outside white supremacy? And I wanted to tell a black South African story from the inside out. Not the way global media often understands brown folks—as interesting lab rats to study under microscope—but as the folks I’ve loved and known and watch Fc up at life and liberate real lives, all in a day!

Whatcha think? Would you read That book?

Let me know if I’ve piqued your interest. And more importantly, let me know your own genesis story…or at least start thinking about it!

How are you going to market that book baby?