It’s such a little word. Funny sounding really. It seems innocuous. It’s like two hundred words. Nothing compared to an 80,000 word manuscript.
Yet, I would argue (and I wouldn't have to argue too hard, I'm sure) that it’s one of the most important parts of a book. For me, it’s also one of the hardest parts to write.
As a reader I totally depend on those two hundred words to tell me if this story is one I want to pick up or not. For instance, if the word zombie is one of those two hundred, I’ll probably pass on it. On the other hand, if Navy SEAL shows up, I’m there.
Imagine a book without a blurb. What’s left when you’re deciding to buy—or not?
The cover? Sure, that can be important. It can tell you a few things.
For instance, I think this Kelly Jamieson cover
and this Juniper Bell cover tell you a few things about the books.
This PG Forte title gives hints about the story for sure.
And, of course, this title is very descriptive ;)
But how can I decide based just on those things? I guess I could read the first page.
Lines like this More than a few residents of Wynette, Texas, thought Ted Beaudine was marrying beneath himself. It wasn’t as if the bride’s mother was still the president of the United States (Call Me Irresistable, Susan Elizabeth Phillips) give you some flavor of the story.
How about She had a choice to make. To go or to stay. To have an incredible adventure or to stay snuggled in the soulless crypt of her comfort zone (Insatiable, Cari Quinn). Sets up this story so well, makes you want to read more.
How about last pages?
His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling)
“Well, then I’ll tell you what.” He tipped her over onto the couch cushions and rolled to prop himself over her. “Whata’ya say we practice makin’ babies?” Hands moving with speed and skill, he began to divest her of her clothing. “That way, when you’re ready, we’ll know exactly what we’re doin’.” “It’s very important for one to know what one is doing,” she agreed solemnly, as she unbuttoned his shirt and pushed it off his shoulders. “Oh, yeah. Absolutely. My thoughts exactly.” (Be My Baby, Susan Andersen).Definitely different feels, different types of stories, but reading the ending does give you an idea about the book.
Yeah, there are other ways to decide to buy or not buy, I suppose. But nothing is as important as that blurb.
As an author those two hundred words describing my books are even more important. I want readers to know what they’re getting. For the ones who would love a story like mine, and for those who wouldn’t. I do want them to know that there will be sex scenes, hopefully pretty hot ones. There will be one hero and heroine. The most shifting anyone will do is into a different sexual position. And if there’s a third person involved… no, never mind, that’s probably not going to happen. What I’m saying is that I want those words to really matter, to capture the story, to give a feel for why someone would want to read this book.
Seriously, it’s tough. At Samhain, I’m lucky enough to have quite a bit of say in my blurbs. In fact, my editor Lindsey has me write a rough blurb to get things started. Now, I’m the first to tell you that I’m not great at this. I have a hard enough time writing a synopsis (a 3-5 page summary of the book that tells the editor if she/he wants to read the full manuscript). Condensing the book into a good blurb can be really hard! But it’s nice to have a chance to get the important highlights in there. Then she sends it to a blurb writer (well, I think she does other things too but she’s got a knack for blurbs) and she uses mine and tweaks it. Then they send it to me and ask what I think. And we go back and forth until it’s perfect. Or as close as we can get.
So, all of that is a long way of saying we’re still working on the one for my upcoming release Hotblooded. I can tell you a few things though (which won’t surprise my readers ;)) It’s set in a small town (Honey Creek, Texas), both hero and heroine are medical professionals, there are some steamy sex scenes, there are some funny scenes, there’s a cappuccino machine and there’s a happily ever after.
I don't have an official blurb yet but... I do have a title and a cover!!!
Finally, I’ve come up with five things that, if they’re in the blurb, I’ll definitely give it a try and five things that are definite put-it-back-on-the-“shelf” items for me.
1. Navy SEALS (mentioned that one right? ;))
2. Friends to lovers
3. Reunion story
4. Firefighters, doctors, paramedics, cops, etc. Love those heroes!
5. Pretend to be lovers (for some good reason) then fall in love
1. Zombies (still :))
2. Vampires (unless your name is PG Forte. I’m serious.)
3. Settings in space or aliens of any kind
4. Kidnapping of a child, death of a child (in the story—in the past I can usually deal with)
5. Hmmm… can’t come up with a 5th. I try to be open-minded. :)
How about you? What should or should not show up in a blurb to really get you excited about a book?