Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Blurbs

Go into a bookstore and read the blurbs on the back covers of the books.  This is your introduction, and one of the most important things a writer can do to get others interested.  If you think writing it properly is unimportant, check out the blurbs below:

- A well to do couple decide to take in a young boy orphaned by his parents.  However, the boy grows disdainful of the comfort they provide and takes the chance to run off and be with others outside of normal society.  When he finds trouble, as he often does, he has to rely on more learned members of society to get him past a series of dangerous addictions.

- When the established government is attacked by a group of violent extremists, its leaders turn to a misunderstood man to protect the safety of its citizens.  Through the use of magical powers and a sense of justice, this man works to stop these terrorists before they can cause harm to both the people and property charged with enforcing the law.

- There's a violent predator on the loose.  It roams the Earth with a single fury and has been known to drag men to their deaths without remorse.  Only one man, broken by years of torment and struggling with disability, has the courage to seek out this monster and bring it down before it can harm others, but can he convince his men to do what must be done?

- The world has ended.  A deadly virus has bene unleashed on mankind, and only a few are strong enough to survive.  A small group huddles in a place that once promised dreams but now promises confrontation.  Their savior is on hand, and he rebuilds their community from the despair that once engulfed their lives.  However, another faction nearly a thousand miles away has different ideas.  Prodded by a gray haired witch, the opposing faction seeks to destroy anyone who won't bow to their version of God.  Can even their psychic savior protect them?

Okay, does anyone know which stories I'm describing above?  It's easy...when you think about it:
1.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2.  Star Wars
3.  Moby Dick
4.  The Stand

See how easy it is to twist even a well known classic into something unrecognizable?  This is why the blurb is so important.  Unfortunately, with traditional publishing, this blurb isn't usually something the writer gets a say over.  Some editor or unpaid intern in a cubicle thumbs through the book and decides what to say.  The problem, of course, is that this is a big part of the advertising for a book.  A lot of readers read descriptions to see if it's something they might be interested in.  That description might get you in the door, or it might get a shrug while the reader moves on to the next novel.

If you go indie, then I strongly suggest that you spend as much time on your blurb as you would have for that beloved query letter. This is your chance to grab a reader by the collar and scream, "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!"  If you shrug, figuring that you've created a story so compelling that people would be foolish to not read it, then you're setting yourself up for failure.  Blurbs get people into the story.  At that point, it's up to the story to keep them.  But if they don't open to the first page, your great story is worthless.

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