Monday, March 09, 2015

The battle of the blurb

I've just been signing off on the blurb for my new book, The Third Sin, coming out at the end of April. My publisher is brilliant at coming up with a framework that sums up the book better than I could myself so what I do is really just a bit of tweaking here and there.

It's an anxious business, though, and I give it a lot of thought to be sure it's just right. I'm acutely conscious of the blurb's importance as the calling card you place in the hands of the casual browser.

I know the ways in which I choose books myself. There are various factors, of varying levels of importance. First and foremost, of course, is the author.  If it's a new book from an author I love I'll order it before it's even published.

Next comes word of mouth. I have several friends who like the sort of books that I like and a recommendation from one of them will definitely send me looking for it.

After that, I suppose, it's reviews. I can't say I'm much influenced by Richard and Judy style recommendations (would that be Oprah in the States?) because I've never found a professional critic whose views totally chime with mine, but I rely on reviews to tell me about content and subject matter. Something set in small town America, for instance, is a good bet where I'm concerned.

If I haven't anything else to go on and I'm wandering hopefully round a bookshop, a striking cover will probably make me pick it up but remembering my grandmother's warning that you can't tell a book by it's cover, that wouldn't make me buy it.

But then comes the blurb. I read it, and it has to grab me there and then. If it doesn't, the book goes back on the shelf and the author has just lost a new reader.

So it's important. It's like an advertisement for the product. But should it be short and intriguing? Long enough to be informative? Just a snippet from the book itself, maybe, from one of the most dramatic episodes?

I don't know what I think. Are there rules for what makes an effective blurb, and if there are, has anyone ever found out if they actually work? 


Eileen Goudge said...

The "Look Inside" feature on Amazon. Hands-down my #2 way of choosing books. #1 is the author - like you said, Aline, if it's an author I know and love, I'll read their grocery lists :)

Sybil Johnson said...

Haven't heard of any rules. But, blurbs on the back of books are definitely important when I decide to buy a book.

My publisher had me write my own for Fatal Brushstroke. Hard to make it interesting without giving away too much.

Aline Templeton said...

Once I had a blurb suggested by a previous editor which made me wonder if she'd sent me the blurb for someone else's book! Even struggling with my own was better than that>

Vicki Delany said...

Blurbs are critical for me as a reader. All a good blurb needs is the setting, the mood, and a brief hint at characters and plot. Anything more is too much. I don't want a plot summary, I want to know if this is the type of book I enjoy.

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