Book Blurbs: A Quick Question

book blurb problems.jpgFor those of you who were worried I was blown away by Hurricane Hermine, I’m still here.  We weren’t forced to evacuate but we sure did get pounded by wind and rain.  There’s a little bit of flooding here and there, but nothing too extreme.  With that being said, I wanted to jump right into today’s post.  It will be a short one (I’m going to drive around the neighborhood and help pick up debris).

What makes a good book blurb?  If you can get someone to pick up your book thanks to the awesome cover art you’ve won a single battle.  The second battle comes when they flip it over and read the back blurb.  I need to train for the back cover battle.

Now that Wastelander has been drafted and I’ve started working on the other facets of the production, I’ve began to research different book blurb styles and techniques.  I thought I would share a few of the more solid sources I’ve located that seem to offer useful information.

Side note:  All of the following places I found seem to be pretty solid sources of information for self-publishing if that is your arena of conflict.  They talk about many of the production (printing, typesetting, cover art, etc.) aspects.

  1. From the BlurbBlog I found, The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Book Blurbs for your Novel
  2. From CreativePen I found, How to Write Back Blurb for Your Book
  3. From WritersHelpingWriters I found, Blurbs that bore, Blurb that Blare

I‘ve also found a couple of book sources to check out.  I’ll be ordering these books here from Amazon and will start burning through them with my typical QE flair (highlighters and pens to desecrate the pages).

  1. The highest rated (and seemingly most legit looking) was Book Descriptions That Sell by Gary Webb
  2. More of an impulse than rating fueled I also purchased How to Blurb: (And how not to), by E.M. Lynley.  The author bio seems very legit, hopefully the content rock too.

There is certainly some repeat information in these offerings and in some of the other sources I found that didn’t make the list.  That’s a good thing.  I think of those massive repeats as high priority items.

book in handThere are some variables though for sure.  I’ve seen book blurbs written as (1) giant quotes from the book, (2) a partial quote and partial blurb, (3) full blurb, (4) no blurb and only “stellar” reviews, (5) first person weirdness, (6) a single line of text, and (7) the list goes on.

My plan is to create three different blurbs, each featuring a different style of delivering the information.  On one of my Wasteland Wednesday’s, I’ll present all three and get some opinions and toss a voting poll into the mix.  That way you can vote on the one that would most likely get you to open the book and give it a try.  It will give you another peak into the book, and provide me some essential post-production feedback.

question mark.pngMy question to all of you is what makes a good blurb in your opinion?  If you can remember a book, and could refer it as a prime example, that would be superbly helpful (I tend to sponge style when I read).  If you just tell me what the title is I can search for the blurb.  This is an area where I am learning as I go!

Well, I’m going to drive around in my truck and clean up branches and toppled trashcans in the neighborhood.  I’m behind on comments from yesterday and will start getting back to folks once I finish saving the world and getting my baby boy through the ol morning routine.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

36 responses

  1. I second that. I’m glad you’re safe and warm. Let me know if you need anything. First thing I do (because I learn by case study) is read the blurbs of books you read that aren’t from your favorite author. When I buy a stack of books, one in the stack is a “cover” that impressed me, but I look a the cover, then read the blurb. I try to break down the elements. Here are the elements I look for:

    Main Plot: I want a sense of knowing what the story is about.

    Main Character: I like characters that interest me, so I want to know who your star is.

    The last is odd. I want something that shows me how this writer is unique. Butcher did that for me with his book blog for the first Dresden File he showed a glimpse of the wit that is in the book. I want a small reflection of the tone or style of the book. I hate picking up a book thinking it’ll be funny and finding out it’s a romance novel. I hate picking up a romance novel (I’ve read three) and finding out I’ve read specular sci-fi.

    I have a few other things that interest me, but that’s what I look for in a book blurb so I can decided if I might be interested.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Awesome information Matt! Thanks for sharing some pointers. I will google the blurbs from the books you mentioned and add them to my master list I am compiling. The goal is to gather as many solid examples as I can and analyze them QE style ( highly caffeinated).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to hear you and your family are safe Corey! As far as book blurbs go, anything Stephen King has done pretty much is a good thought. Dean Koontz, namely in his Odd Thomas series always had a way of drawing my attention.

    Another one (and take it for what it is as it is a choose your own adventure book) Max Brallier did a pretty good job with his blurb for the book “Can YOU survive THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?

    I will also say it was a highly entertaining choose your own adventure book, so you should check it out anyways if you haven’t already. Xp

    Good luck saving the world my friend and I hope you have a wonderful day.

    Cheers! ^_^

    Liked by 2 people

      • Awesome! It is always great to find someone else who appreciates that genre. I love a great, straight forward story as much as the next person but I always have had a special place in my heart for Choose Your Own Adventure books.

        Part of it is nostalgia from the books I read as a child in this genre, but part of it is just how thrilling it can be! I read a lot of random choose your own adventure books but some of the ones that I have the most fond memories of were the Goosebumps choose your own adventure books.

        Those were good times. So when I found “Can you survive the Zombie Apocalypse” I was grabbed instantly by the cover art and then when I realized it was a choose your own adventure I was like, I can’t go wrong on that front. Xp

        Good luck with your further research on blurbs and thanks for sharing your insight on what you have thus far.

        Cheers! ^_^

        Liked by 2 people

      • Remember we were talking about WordPress being bizarre? This is my third attempt at responding to this comment (the 1st from my desktop) let’s see if we have success.

        I read Goosebumps like crazy when I was younger, but I didn’t know they had choose your own adventure books. I think I will start keeping my eyes open for these at used bookstores and flea markets. Start stockpiling them for baby Thor once he’s old enough. Thanks for pointing this out to me! I learn something new every day.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oh I used to collect and read all the GooseBumps books. I only know about the choose your own adventure ones because I used to get those scholastic book order things in school and it happened that they were in there.

        When I saw that I was like “MOM! I know what I want!” She always encouraged (still does today) both my love for reading and writing. She knew I loved horror from a much younger age than most probably should and so she would always get me GooseBumps or the latest Stephen King book when she could.

        When I saw a choose your own adventure version of these books I was so excited! I was like “HALLOWEEN EARLY!” Haha…so yes, just Googlefu that stuff and I’m sure you will find the entire collection. Hmm…oh yeah!

        Sorry you had to reply 3 times before it finally went through. I hate when it crashes on me or I hit send and it simply doesn’t. It is pretty rare in my case thus far but it really hurts because you know how I love to ramble and if I’m getting deep into a discussion and it is all lost, I’m like “WHY?!”

        So often I copy what I write before hitting send so it doesn’t happen. At least this way I can paste it again if need be.

        Cheers! ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

      • We are cut from the same cloth! We should collaborate and write a choose your own adventure book for adults. We could spread it out over all different genres!

        *maniacal laughter*

        Oh that? That was just my, “Let’s take over the world by using words,” laughter.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Michael Seidel, writer and commented:
    Here is yet another challenge. Once the book is finished, how do you write a blurb that’ll draw attention, be true to the book, and entice others to read it? Sometimes there are character limits, too. It’s work, and yet another skill to learn. QE has some helpful ideas and points to good resources.

    Good resources are a valuable tool in the writer’s toolbox.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Here’s a blurb that really worked for me. It’s from “Family of Lies: Sebastian” by Sam Argent:

    ~

    Sebastian Orwell did the only thing a smart wizard could do when he stumbled upon the wounded Crown Prince: he healed him and dumped him in a tavern where he could continue not being Sebastian’s problem. Unfortunately, the prince isn’t content with being alive, and he hunts Sebastian down to thank him personally. Not only is Sebastian stuck with the prince’s unwanted affections, he’s also confronted by growing evidence linking the assassination attempt to someone from his father’s past.

    Lord Orwell is a lot of things: thief, liar, drunk, and all around horrible father, but Sebastian knows he’s no murderer. In order to prove it, Sebastian has to keep the prince alive long enough to discover the truth—a task made considerably harder because the idiot prince prefers wooing Sebastian over securing his own survival. On top of everything, Sebastian needs to save the day without revealing his magical powers and the real reason he hides his appearance.

    Sebastian had no intention of playing the hero, but whoever is stirring up shit in his country will pay for destroying his quiet life.

    ~

    Why did I find this blurb irresistible? Sebastian’s snarky, curmudgeonly personality shines through it. Really, it’s as simple as that. (It shines through the book too–which is definitely one of the wackier fantasy tales I’ve read.)

    No, wait. There’s more to it than that. The blurb promises four things I love: a fantasy setting, a complicated family, a mystery to unravel and a potential LGBTQ romance. Given all that–plus the snarky, curmudgeonly MC–there was no way I would pass this book up.

    But even without the rest, honestly, I’d have given Sebastian a chance. Yeah, his personality–as presented in the blurb–was enough to entice me to buy this book. (For the record, I have no regrets. Hyper-magical worlds aren’t usually my thing, but what the hell. I just went with it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing this! More food for thought and data to input (Johnny-Five is working with me on this one).

      It absolutely feeds me all the elements I want to know: character information, voice, genre, setting, and plot overview. I also like that you said the blurb is consistent with the overall voice in the book.

      It also says, “shit,” which brings me to this: can (should) I drop cuss words into the blurb? That’s a question I don’t really know the answer to. I know I can – I can do whatever I want. What I don’t know is how that limits options for publishers, agents, and markets.

      I wrote one blurb I liked that had a couple f-bombs in it and was like, “Should you do that Corey?” But the book is 1st person from Drake’s POV and is absolutely jam packed with Drake language. It almost feels like a betrayal not to drop some heavy language on the back. I don’t know…

      Anyways, rambling aside, thanks for sharing this and getting me thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No idea what the answer is regarding cuss words. If Drake uses them throughout the book, I’d say go for it! That’s part of his voice (and probably part of his charm.)

        Besides, anyone who’s offended by them in the blurb won’t be into the book anyway.

        No idea how this works with traditional publishing, though, or how much say you get in the blurb that ends up on your book.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s all part of the learning process I suppose. I’ll probably make two versions until I have better information to work from.

        A more “vanilla” traditional version and a bridge exploding self-published version. That way if I take it in the guts when I try to get representation I already have my sutures ready when I switch to self-publishing (the more likely finale anyways).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Since you write post-apocalyptic stuff, why not steal from the USMC recruiting attitude?

    The whole attitude of “ARE YOU GOOD ENOUGH TO BE ONE OF US?”

    You could turn that into a recruiting poster sort of thing? On second thought, that might work better for science fiction. Maybe tweak it to a gladiatorial theme?

    “COULD YOU SURVIVE X, Y, and Z?”

    Sorry if it’s disjointed, I’m spit balling here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s actually not a terrible idea at all. And never fear the spitballing when you are around me!

      I like the idea because the novella is the gospelized version of the book. The book is Drakes actual account of events. The novella is where someone found Drake’s journal and rewrote it to make Drake look like he kissed babies and washed peoples feet.

      The novella is the gospellized story of Drake. It takes Drake Nelson and paints him as this grand hero of the wasteland. The novella (in my wasteland universe) becomes the premier book on how to survive the wasteland and makes Drake look like a knight in shiny armor. When the truth is Drake was a bit of a-hole. A good dude at his core, but an a-hole.

      So given the novella is largely propaganda perhaps some graphics and promotional pieces in the same vein wouldn’t be a bad idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I HATE writing blurbs. Blurbs are a form of advertising, after all, and because I don’t think the way most people do, I don’t understand what makes most people react favorably (or otherwise) to advertisements of any sort. I know what I want to see on the back cover/inside flap of the dust jacket on a book, but that may not be what most readers want. For example, I don’t mind seeing one or two recommendations/review quotes from well-known authors in the same genre, but a back-cover blurb that consists solely of review quotes is annoying and useless to me as a reader. I want to know what the story is about, not whether Big Name Author (who doesn’t ever write in the genre of this novel, so what doe she know, anyway?) could be bribed or pressured by his publisher to say something generic and nice about it. (Something generic about the AUTHOR is even more useless. ‘Dave Writerguy is such a cool person! You should read his books!’ Seriously? I’ve seen this sort of thing, though.)

    I generally dislike rhetorical questions in blurbs. (There’s a reason they’re NOT recommended for query letters.) I want to know something about the main character(s), the setting, the basic premise of the plot or the incident that sets off the chain of events in the story… I don’t like blurbs that completely misrepresent the story — I’ve seen some that outright LIE, and any author who pulls such a stunt deserves the bad reviews their novel receives.

    (Here’s a blurb I wrote for a SF novel I didn’t write: “The planet Cedeforthy hides dark secrets, some far older than the human civilization there. After the disaster of his previous mission, Lt. Commander Hrothgar Tebrey finds himself assigned as military attaché to an archaeological expedition, with orders to assess any artifacts discovered for potential use in a war that the Earth Federation is losing. Then someone — or something — sabotages the expedition…” Part of why I dislike writing blurbs is that there is NO WAY to include everything that may be interesting to readers in so few words. *sigh*)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archaeology…I bet this blurb is from one of your clones books huh? Regardless, I enjoyed the blurb you wrote. It hits all the notes I would look for in a good book. I can also say it worked for me and now I want to snag a copy. I know you have a link to your brothers books on your page. Which one would you recommend starting with?

      I make a point to buy books from fellow bloggers and indie authors and I’ve set aside a budget to do so. I also compile books I’ve snagged from indie authors via WordPress here.

      I also hate review blurbs. My wife just finished reading Rick Yancey’s, 5th Wave Series. Every single one of his book backs are covered in reviews from random places. I was like, “Blurb must be on the inside then.” The inside cover was also full of reviews. How in the heck are you supposed to know what on earth the books are about without some sort of blurb somewhere? It’s so bizarre.

      For every reader deceived by a book blurb we should get to throw a single stone at the author. The book, Star Wars: Allegiance, by Timothy Zahn comes to mind. A blurb that promises heaping servings of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia – but delivers only tiny cameos of them. I googled this to confirm the author and the fourth result was this article complaining about the blurb being a lie.

      Anyways, I’m done ranting now. Thanks for reading and offering a great example for me to add to my study. The path is starting to get clearer the more blurbs I read.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The author isn’t always responsible for the blurb, you know, unless they’re an indie and have final responsibility for everything concerning their books. (I am very much NOT a fan of Zahn’s novels, but if we’re gonna throw rocks at him, it should be for something we KNOW is his fault, right?)

        Yes, the blurb I quoted is for one of my clone’s novels: The Remnant, by Paul B. Spence, the first in a series about Hrothgar Tebrey. I recommend starting with that one. Next is The Fallen, followed by the Madness Engine. (There are a couple of short stories, too, available for free on Smashwords. “Milankovic” originated as a subplot in The Fallen, but it was deleted to keep the novel more focused. “Imposter” takes place right before The Madness Engine.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aww common Thomas…I just want to throw rocks at people! I do agree with you. His fault or not, it seems he has shouldered the burden (from what I read).

        I did know if you snag an agent and get a publisher they take care of that for you, but I like to plan for all eventualities. Plus I think it’s an interesting topic to talk about. From what I’ve gathered from my discussions on here, the blurb is more important for some readers than the cover art. Which is contrary to what I had assumed. Live and learn.

        I’m going to snag a paperback version of The Remnant tonight. I agree with you on the cover art, it’s gorgeous. And there’s a cat in it too? Sold.

        Funny side note, the used version of this book is going for 90 dollars on Amazon hahaha! I think I’ll be buying a shiny new edition for 1/9 the price 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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