Six Notes You Should Compile for Every Book | laurenlayne.com
Writing Organization

Six Notes You Should Compile for Every Book

April 9, 2022

I’m an organized person. I’m not the type to miss meetings or deadlines, have a junk drawer, or forget where I put my keys.

And I am the type to have my Christmas wrapping paper sorted and color coordinated…by August. My label maker gets daily use. And I’m super diligent about my computer’s file structure.

Yet, somehow, even with my structured ways and tidy personality, it took me a long time to learn this hack about being an author:

It’s crucial to organize not just my writing notes, but my post-publication notes.

We’ve all seen (or can imagine) those gorgeous writing binders, either digital or analog, where all of the research notes and character studies are color coded, with drool-worthy dividers. Or the painstakingly maintained writer Pinterest boards with inspiration for everything from the hero’s kitchen, to the heroine’s yellow dress in Chapter Eighteen.

And yet, organized as some of us are in our writing process, after publication, things can become a bit … less so.

This was certainly true for me! I thought that after release-month for my book came and went, I could archive all of those book notes, and move on to the next story.

That’s proven only partially true. The writing notes can be archived, yes.

But I’ve learned from experience that I can save “future me” a lot of time by compiling some crucial details for every single book, and keeping them at the ready.

Here are some use-cases:

  • You want to refresh a book’s description a year after publication, but need a draft to work off of.
  • You want to know how many years ago X book was released.
  • You’re writing the back matter for your upcoming book, and want to add links to past books. 
  • You’re creating an ad for a backlist book and need a sassy tagline.
  • You’re designing a new author website, and want to add an excerpt to your book page.

Here are the six notes I now create for every book of mine, kept updated and easily-accessibly in Craft (though any notes app will do just fine!)


Book Details

This one is short and sweet, and I use it as the “homepage” for the other notes. If you’re compiling these details when your book is “new” you’ll think it’s a waste of time, because you know the details by heart, but trust me. In eight years, they start to get a bit fuzzy!

  • Publication Date
  • Publisher
  • Genre (you never know when you might pivot) 
  • Series (if applicable)
  • IBSN or ASIN
  • Retailers (Did you launch exclusive to Kindle Unlimited, or was it available everywhere?)
  • I’m a romance author, so I also include the “heat level” of the book, since it varies.

BCC

Also known known as the Blurb or simply the Description, is that usually 2-3 paragraphs describing what your book is about. The “chunk” you paste onto Amazon’s portal when your book is ready for publication.

Tagline & Elevator Pitch

Different than your full book description, this is your one-sentence summary of the book; the elevator pitch, or longline in screenplay speak. If a film agent comes calling, you’ll be really glad to have one of these for all your books. If she’s interested in one, you can quickly upsell another!

You’ll also want a tagline. The tagline is shorter than the logline, more of a marketing “hook.” Think of it as a few snappy words you might see on a movie poster.  These are the sort of one-liners that are great for marketing materials and social media posts.

For example, the logline for my book Love Story is:

Two estranged childhood sweethearts come face-to-face with their messy past when forced to endure a two week cross-country road trip together.

The tagline for the same book:

Me. My Ex. 2 weeks. 1 car. Shouldn’t be a problem.

Buy Links

Self-explanatory, but probably the most important. Keep all of the links to the Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble page for that particular book in one place! If you have a website (you should have a website), make sure to add a link to that book’s individual book page on your site as well, since that’s one link that contains all the links.

Accolades

This is the note I use the most on this list. For every book you write, keep a note with snippets of 5 star reviews, or any bragging rights for the book. Goodreads “Best romance of the summer,” Publishers Weekly starred review, Southern Living’s “Best beach read” — stuff like that. Don’t forget to add “blurbs” from other authors, if you have those! 

Excerpts

Probably the most time-consuming to compile, but you’ll be so glad you put in the time. Put together a list of snappy excerpts from the story, no more than a paragraph at most. 

These are absolutely clutch when you want to dust off something from the backlist that’s on sale, or that you want to feature. Simply copy and paste your favorite quote from the book, paste it onto a Canva Instagram template, and you’ve got book promo in under five minutes.

Bonus—Book Covers

I usually create a note for my book cover files as well, though it’s a bit redundant with the Cover folder I talk about in my article about Organizing Your Book Files. The benefit of having them live on your computer in a folder (as opposed to just in a notes app) is for ease of sending via email as attachment, which I’ve found to be the most common use. Much easier to simply locate the file on your computer’s hard drive than to have to first download it from your notes app.

Where keeping cover files in a Notes app comes in handy is for versioning. I like to keep the most current version of my cover easily accessible in a folder, but I also like to be able to quickly see what the old version of a cover may have looked like next to the new. For that, a Notes app is better than having to pull up two separate files.

What This All Looks Like

Below is a screenshot of what my book notes for Made in Manhattan look like. I’m currently using the Craft app. I’m partial to this particular minimalist appearance, but I’ve also kept book notes in Notion, Evernote, Apple Notes, and Bear in the past. They all do the trick. The important factor is consistency, not the actual app itself.