Saturday, May 6, 2017

How to write a blurb

Who, me? Uh-uh. Not my talent. Baen once invited me to write my own back cover blurb. The result was so awful that I understand there was an in-house memo saying, "Never let this woman near anything to do with publicity or marketing."

But the thing about doing that for which you have no natural talent is, you have to learn. So I've been scarfing down posts from Madgeniusclub with helpful suggestions for blurb writing.

Refining the draft

This is probably the single most useful article I've read. Dorothy Grant shares the process by which she and her husband work from a long blurb with too much information down to a short, punchy blurb with a good hook.

But what is it about?

Sarah Hoyt shares a collection of blurbs for the Cinderella story, aimed at different genres.

The agony of writing that cover blurb

Rowena Daniells discusses the agony of trying to fit a 100,000 word book into the Procrustean back-cover bed of 150 words or less.

Blurbs: Short and Sweet

Think getting down to 150 words is hard? Dorothy Grant challenges you to get it down to 50 words. And if you say "That's impossible," well, she has lots of examples.

I'm not at Dorothy's level of expertise yet, but at least I've got the blurbs for both books well under 150 words.

INSURGENTS

For generations Harmony’s totalitarian government has used the bleak continent of Esilia as a dumping ground for political dissidents. Now they’re surprised that the dissidents want to secede.

Gavrel is totally devoted to his colony’s battle for freedom. Isvel, daughter of the enemy’s invading general, knows exactly why Harmony should rule. When she is taken hostage by his guerrilla group, he has to draw a line between his personal inclinations and his duty to the insurgency, while Isvel has to remember her duty to escape. There can be no future for two people on opposing sides of this war – so Gavrel will just have to win the war.

AWAKENING

Orphaned and taunted as an Unlicensed child, Devra grew up determined to expiate her parents’ crime by being the perfect citizen – which means never, ever questioning or defying the rules of Harmony’s totalitarian government. But when one of her students is threatened with “medical rehabilitation,” she finds that her personal values are incompatible with good citizenship. One instinctive act of defiance sends her on a downward spiral towards homelessness and unemployment. But at the very bottom, sometimes you meet someone who shows you a new way up….

What do you think? They're terrible blurbs, aren't they? I know they're terrible. But you should have seen the first drafts!

1 comment:

  1. It never occurred to me that the author had to write the blurb. I always thought it was a sort of marketing tool produced by the publisher/editor. When perusing books at the library, I will often read the blurb to see if contents will appeal so I find them helpful. I hate getting home with a book and discovering within the first few chapters that it is not at all what I thought and not what I want to spend my time on.

    I haven't followed any of your links, but get the gist of what this involves in order to come up with a good one. I hadn't thought about the fact that a good one has a hook, isn't just a summation of the story. Of the two you are writing, the second one definitely has a hook at the end. I'd take that one home based on that last line. The other one doesn't really hook. It almost comes across as academic, and maybe a little confusing. Back to the drawing board on that one. ;-)

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