Getting The Blurb Right
You’ve just spent six hard months slaving over a hot computer. You’ve written and polished your book, and then polished it a little bit more. It’s your baby and you love it. You spend another three months finding a publisher and a further three agreeing everything from the title to the cover design. So a year of your life is invested in a fantastic novel and you’re ready to go… not quite, you need to sort out the blurb.
Is it important? Yes, it is in fact one of the most important components of the whole book package. How can I be sure? Well, I ran a poll on two well-known sites for readers in the US and the UK. The poll was entitled ‘Top reasons for buying a book’. The voting results made it crystal clear what really mattered.
High on both lists were things like genre, recommendations and read other books by the author. However, the blurb polled #1 in the US and #2 in the UK. That shows you just how important it is to get it right… your book won’t succeed without a well-written description.
There’s plenty of great advice about writing the back cover blurb, a quick Google will turn up plenty of pointers. Here are some which I try to follow:
- Keep it short… 100-300 words.
- Write it in the present tense.
- Create a tagline which works for you and make sure it’s included.
- Grab the reader’s attention. The blurb needs at least one hook.
- Edit it and then edit it again. Mistakes will cost you readers.
Bear these bullet points in mind, but the most important thing, in my experience is to get help and feedback. As the author, you’re too close to the story to do the job by yourself. Even if your chosen helper hasn’t read the book, try and explain to them what you’re trying to get across. The very act of articulating how you plan to sell the book is a great exercise to help clarify your thinking.
When my first book, Dark Tidings, was finished I spent many fraught hours working on the blurb on my own. I knew roughly what I wanted, but I was surprised just how hard it was to create the elevator pitch for the book. Eventually I had a first draft which was then refined in conjunction with the publisher. Finally, in what I thought was a sensible market-testing exercise, I published it in a couple of forums and asked for comments. I got plenty of feedback, and nearly all of it was useful. I wish I’d sought advice in the forums much earlier in the process.
I took the comments and went back to the drawing board. This time it didn’t take me half as long to come up with a blurb which made me (and my publisher) happy. Here’s what we ended up with…
What happens when ancient magic meets the internet? One thing is certain, modern life will never be the same again.
A thousand years ago, a young thief, Tung, and a disgraced wizard, Madrick, are thrust together in an executioner’s dungeon.
In the darkness, Madrick reveals an incredible secret about a legendary spell. The great spell helps them escape their prison cell… and eventually their century.
Catapulted into the present day, their lives collide with Michael, a computer hacker who plans to destroy the world’s largest bank. But sinister people are tracking their every move and they will stop at nothing to steal their spell.
I’m pleased with it now. I think it captures the essence of the story without giving away too much. The only thing it doesn’t tell you is that Dark Tidings is a funny adventure with a lot of laugh out loud moments. Maybe I should do some more work on it?
Is it fully polished now? I’d love to hear what you think.
That’s great advice, and your blurb is intriguing. Thank you, Ken.
Most folk believe that technology rules their lives. They’re wrong. Dark conspiracies and ancient magic actually dominate this world. This author’s one mission in life is to open people’s eyes to that fact.
He hides behind the pretence that he writes fiction to ensure he doesn’t attract unwelcome attention; deadly attention.
His name is Ken Magee and he tells people he writes contemporary fantasies which blend adventure and humour with technology and magic. His books live under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’. Dark Tidings and The Black Conspiracy are currently available and A Darker Shade of Black will be released very soon.
Do you want to laugh while the world comes to an end? Why not have a look at these books… before it’s too late?
You can find out more about Ken and his writing from…
- Dark Tidings on Amazon: http://authl.it/7d
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dark-Tidings-Ken-Magee/314258695251399
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