Blurbity Blurbity Blurb
As anyone who has followed my journey writing and editing “Incandescence” knows, its been a battle. Its not my first book, not in the literal sense, but it is the first one which I am writing as a fully-grown-up person with intention to send off into the world to be read and (hopefully) enjoyed by a broader audience than… just me.
Still, as much as I complain about how editing is both the worst and best part of writing, I have to say that the very hardest thing I have attempted to do for “Incandescence” is writing the blurb. Yes, the blurb. The quick synosis you find on the back of a book that makes you go ‘Hells yes! I gots ta read me summa dis!’ or ‘Ugh. More vampire lovers and tight black leather? Hells to the nah’.
The blurb has to contain so much information, yet be written in such a way as to not seem like an infodump. It has to be catchy and exciting, yet ask question or end on a cliffhanger, yet not give away too much of the plot.
There are many blogs out there discussing the anatomy of a perfect blurb. Start with a hook, choose only the main character(s) to highlight, leave them wanting more… all great points. But there’s an art to putting that advice to practical use and I have not yet mastered the technique.
Here’s my work-in-progress/beta-test blurb for “Incandescence”:
The world has been on a downward spiral for awhile – even 14-year-old Hannah Brighton knows that much – but no one was really expecting it to end quite so soon. Yet on one hazy afternoon in March, Hannah, her older brother Michael, and their 102-year-old great-great-grandmother find themselves running for their lives and struggling to exist in a world on the brink of collapse.
Fortunately for these siblings, magic is real. They are the last two mageborns on Earth — at least as far as they know.
As the world descends into utter chaos they must survive earthquakes and tsunamis, maurauding looters (or looting maurauders?), a greedy empire-building bastard named Alexander, and at the heart of the destruction, an ancient enemy with an army of hungry children at her command. Their peaceful mountain valley may provide some protection but it only delays the inevitable confrontation.
Trapped between the avaricious power of Alexander & Isaac, the collapse of civilization, and an indescribable evil – Hannah, Michael, and their assembly of exiles have no choice but to fight.
Well? What do you think? What should change? How can I improve this blurb to make it the bestest most blurbity blurb that ever blurbed? Can you tell I sort of love and hate the word blurb? Its great, and awful.
Still, I honestly seek your advice. You’re a reader, you’ve probably picked up a thousand books over the years, flipped ’em over and read the back cover copy. What makes you pick up Book A over Book B? I know the cover is important, both front and back, so its crucial to me that I get this one right! Right?
In the future, maybe I should take a fellow author’s advice and write the blurb first. Then it can act as a mini-outline for how I intend the story to go. But I bet if I wrote a blurb right now for say, the “Rudabet” project, the actual novel will be vastly different. Maybe not. Let’s give it a try.
A serpant with an insatiable appetite has swallowed the continent whole over the course of 100 years. Now, it sets its greedy black eyes on the island nation of Baidra and girds its loins for war.
But fierce Queen Rudabet will not give up her country’s sovereinty without a fight. A wild, proud people, the inhabitants of Baidra know they cannot fight the Empire’s expertly trained troops on equal footing. They take to the trees and trenches, declaring guerilla warfare on supply lines and scouting parties.
Lead by the Queen’s fearless consort, Kimaran, the nation’s fleet of merchant ships and pleasure boats transform into a powerful navy and rock the Emperor’s carefully laid plans. Victory – and freedom – are within their grasp and despite heavy losses, the people of Baidra refuse to be beaten. Yet, there is a traitor in their midst instigating trouble within the Queen’s court and selling information to the Emperor.
Will Rudabet’s ferocious fighting spirit be enough to lead her people to victory?
Not 100% awful for a first try. I don’t know if I should focus more on the war or the interpersonal stuff. I didn’t mention General Abeterus at all, and he’s pretty plot-critical, but the sweeping storyline of invasion and war might be more encompassing.
Anyway, I’d appreciate opinions (on both, but particularly “Incandescence”). I’ve read that a blurb should be under 250 words. Normally, I find that to be painfully limiting since I tend toward the verbose, but in both cases presented above I came in just under 170 (162 & 168, respectively).
Please please please, give me some advice, guys!
Love & Rainbows,
* * * * * * * * * * *
Okay, taking into account some feedback I’ve gotten, let’s try an updated version…
Although the modern world has been on a downward spiral for awhile, no one was really expecting it to end quite so soon. Yet, one hazy afternoon in March, Hannah, her brother Michael, and their 102-year-old great-great-grandmother find themselves running for their lives and struggling to survive in a world on the brink of collapse.
As society descends into utter chaos they must withstand earthquakes and tsunamis, looting marauders, a pair of greedy empire-building bastards named Alexander & Isaac, and, at the heart of the destruction, an ancient enemy with an army of hungry children at her command. Their peaceful mountain valley may provide some protection but it only delays the inevitable confrontation.
Fortunately for these siblings, magic is real. They are the last two mageborns on Earth. At least as far as they know.
Now, trapped between the avaricious power of Alexander & Isaac, the collapse of civilization, and an indescribable evil – Hannah, Michael, and their motley collection of allies have no choice but to fight back.
The fine print about the give-away. One winner will be randomly selected using Random.org and that person will receive an electronic copy of “Incandescence” as an ARC before it premieres to the world. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY. Jack is not eligible because he can have a copy anytime he wants, LOL. Otherwise, its open anyone over the age of 18 and a resident of the US. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. The entry period for this giveaway ends on Saturday September 15th, 2012 at 11:59 PM Eastern. The winner will be chosen, at Random, on Sunday September 16th, 2012 and contacted via email to claim their prize. If the prize is not claimed by September 30th, 2012 at 11:59pm EST, a second winner will be drawn. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog entry, giving your opinion or advice on the ‘blurb’ for “Incandescence”. Ensure that you have left a valid email address. I retain the right to disqualify any comments which appear to be spam for additional chances to win, but multiple entries will be counted. PenelopePrice.net reserves the right to collect and use the winner’s name and likeness for promotional purposes. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. There is no cash alternative, this prize is provided by PenelopePrice.net, and blah blah legal jargon blah.