Sunday, June 7, 2015

Short, Sweet, and to the Point

(...or, the art of blurb-writing, by Jamie Hill)
"Man hates whale, man pursues whale, whale destroys man." 

Name that book in ten seconds.

Does this help?

"When Ishmael sets sail on the whaling ship Pequod one cold Christmas Day, he has no idea of the horrors awaiting him out on the vast and merciless ocean. The ship’s strange captain, Ahab, is in the grip of an obsession to hunt down the famous white whale, Moby Dick, and will stop at nothing on his quest to annihilate his nemesis."

Apparently back in the 1800's authors weren't required to write a blurb--just the book. Somehow they managed to sell a few copies anyway. Today, with more than a million different books available on Amazon, the blurb and the cover are the only things a reader might ever see about your book. 

An eye-catching cover is a given. Without that, busy readers might not even stop to give your blurb a chance.

A catchy title might get you a second look. You've drawn the reader in. Now snag him or her with your blurb!

The blurb sets up the story, but unlike a synopsis, it shouldn't give too much away. Tease the reader with the plot. Give them a hint of what the book is about, make them want to read more.

For my novel-length romantic suspense books which show two characters' point-of-views, I like a two paragraph blurb. One about her, one about him. For example:

Family Secrets

As if stumbling over a dead body isn't enough, Crystal Cartwright finds herself playing surrogate mother to two small boys when their father--her neighbor--doesn't come home. The kids aren't much trouble, but the thieves, drug dealers and kidnappers they're about to encounter are.

Detective Jack Dunlevy, a cop down on his luck, draws the cases no one else wants. A simple investigation involving a dead homeless man quickly changes as Crystal enlists Jack's help with the children. Drawn into a mystery that none of them could have anticipated, they're faced with a situation that will change their lives forever.

Family Ties

With a couple of dead bodies thrown in, Detective Brady Marshall's stolen goods case has just become a lot more interesting. His love life takes a turn for the better when he meets Gina Morris, a feisty waitress at the club where the latest victim has surfaced. A happily unattached ladies' man, Brady isn't looking to settle down. But after meeting the beautiful Italian spitfire, his thoughts are shifting in that direction.
Gina Morris doesn't date cops. Until she meets Brady, that is, and gets won over by his dogged persistence and winning smile. With things in her past that are best left unspoken, Gina hesitates to get too close, but can't resist the handsome detective's charm. When his case runs smack dab into her past life, both of them are forced to make choices they never dreamed possible in an attempt to salvage their relationship, and possibly even save their lives.
Family Honor
Bodies of dead women are piling up and Detective Melanie Curtis is doing everything she can to solve the ‘Cheerleader Slasher’ case. Surprised to discover her chief has requested help from the FBI, she’s even more shocked when she meets the sexy FBI special agent sent to assist her.

SSA Nate Willis tracks serial killers for a living. The slasher case is a challenge, but nothing compared to the feisty police detective he finds leading the investigation. Their attraction is swift and mutual, but the killer is escalating and they need to solve the case before they can focus on their personal relationship. When the unthinkable happens and the investigation is turned upside down, is their chance for happiness also in jeopardy?

Fun factoid (okay, fun for me, anyway). The first line of each of these books mentions a dead body. So do the blurbs. That's my style. Every author should have his or her own.

A few things to remember:

Don't write one line only, or merely use a line from a review as your blurb. (Somebody else wrote that.) Come up with some thoughts of your own. It's your book, after all.

Do double check your blurb for typos and consistency. Ask anyone who proofreads your manuscript to look at the blurb and make sure it's clean and compelling. If it's ho-hum, you need to know before the book gets published.

You spent a long time writing the book. Spend a bit longer making sure the blurb is going to get your masterpiece noticed.

Find these books and more at Books We Love:

1 comment:

Roseanne Dowell said...

Great advice and great blurbs. Something I'm not good at, but hopefully getting better.

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