THE BLURB MENU
Yes, I am mentioning food in this post, but I’m afraid none of it is edible. In considering the visual appeal of books, I’ve talked about titles, considered covers, and today, I’m blogging about blurbs. My Oxford Dictionary defines blurb as ‘a description of something praising it, e.g. in advertising matter’. However, I’m sure my efforts at research will soon have me barred me from entering my local bookshops if I don’t stop mauling the goods, and scribbling in my notebook.
Here's what I discovered:
For the most part, blurbs appear to follow the template set down in ‘Once upon a time, in a land far away lived a prince whose realm was invaded by a dragon.’ In other words blurbs start with setting ( historical fiction will include the period) before introducing the protagonist, and an outline of the circumstances in which he/she finds him/herself.
However the blurb format varies, and a number of clearly definable templates are on the menu.
This selection has only the setting, followed by the main character and an outline of the plot. The village of Palermo is buzzing with the arrival of an exotic stranger, Lars Santini. No one recognizes him except Claudia.
Sci-fi and fantasy books have more information on the setting than romance, crime or literary fiction. ‘The space ship ‘Discovery’ is exploring the outer reaches of the galaxy when the ship’s warp drive fails. Major Spencer is forced to land on the nearest habitable planet, and finds himself faced with a deadly threat to humanity.'
This option starts with praise for the book, ‘A dazzlingly brilliant read’ before moving on to the descriptive section. 'Another suspenseful thriller with Detective Inspector Birthold brought in to solve a series of art thefts baffling Scotland Yard.’
Here the blurb opens with praise from established novelists, moves on to the summary, and closes with more acclaim from critics, literary journals, newspapers, etc. 'Engrossing storytelling: George B. Morwell. Songbird is a coming of age story with deftly drawn characters that explores how an orphaned girl survives a succession of foster care homes. Highly recommended: New Shipville Times.'
Reserved for the most established authors, this template has nothing but positive comments from other famous authors and/or prestigious publications. ‘Outstanding. If you only read one book this year, read this tragic, yet humorously written, tale of betrayal. M. B. Endersly (Pulitzer Prize Winner).' The blurb is on the flyleaf of the front cover.
Amazon uses the words ‘Book Description’ for hard copy books, but refers to the ‘Product Description’ for ebooks. Nook has Overview, and Smashwords provides a text box under the title for the blurb. Of course, with ebooks, the public writes the reviews. As the definition states, advertising is the blurb’s main function, so as an author, you want to write an enticing and succinct presentation, without revealing any solutions to the dilemmas outlined.
Title, cover art and blurb are three opportunities to tempt readers. Each has a role in offering a glimpse of the world within the covers of your book. Nevertheless, no glorious artwork, title that trips off the tongue, or tantalizingly intriguing blurb will keep a reader’s attention if the story doesn’t live up to its promise.
I’ve had more title trouble. Why I hadn’t checked if anyone had used An Unstill Life I don’t know. To my dismay, I found several books on Amazon with that title. So now I’ve three new titles to find – the above mentioned one, plus new titles for both the paranormal romance/adventure, and the series, as it appears Blood Tears is also not original. In fact there’s almost every variation on Blood Something or Other that you can imagine. However, early morning free association exercises are giving me ideas to follow, so I’m hoping this situation will change in the near future.
A second disaster occurred when somehow I messed up, and after an initial panic thinking all my third edit changes had been undone, I realized it was just chapters 1-3. Fortunately the paper recycling bin isn’t due for emptying this week, so I found the missing chapters – torn in half. I'll redo them after the edit is finished as I can’t face doing them straightaway.
On the other hand, I did receive some better news last week. A digital imprint I’d submitted An Unstill Life to have offered me a contract for two novels on the strength of the introductory chapters! I think my brain shut down during the conversation, and I was certainly in freefall for a few days before reality kicked in again. Since then there’s been a bit of back and forth, and I’ve been pondering the pros and cons involved. They are reputable, but I’m waiting for answers to a few questions before I make a decision. But no matter what happens, I'm viewing this as a positive validation of my desire to keep writing.
This week’s haiku
eyes light with knowing
lean forward exchange secrets
friends gossip giggle
An article which puts blurbs into perspective.
This is a great ‘how to’ post:
I’d love it if you popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories...just click on the links to the right.
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To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.
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