Blurb for the Book

Okay folks, I need your advice again. I need to write around 100-120 words of blurb to go on the back cover of my book and on the Amazon page. I’ve come up with two versions so far, and would like some feedback on which you think is better so I’m running a poll at the bottom of this post.

If anyone is feeling generous, please leave suggestions in the comments. Perhaps elements of each could be combined? Is anything missing? Does anything grab you? Does anything fall flat?

I should probably say that my target markets are:

1. Women aged between 30-50, more conservative than liberal, with an interest in dating, relationships, and a man’s perspective. Most will have children.
2. Men aged between 20-50, seeking dating advice and/or looking to share bad experiences.
3. Men aged between 30-50 with daughters in their teens and above, interested in social discussions.

Getting this right is the most important part of marketing any book, and I need some third-party input. This is a first draft, and I’m sure there will be several more.

So, the first:

How far should you go to maintain a relationship with a weird foreigner you met online?

It’s a question a British man struggles to answer as he falls in love with Katya, an artsy Russian living in London, only to discover she’s not who she seems.  Seeking a solution, he stumbles into a bizarre world of Brooklyn-based misfits obsessed with Burning Man, an annual gathering where anything goes. On the way he must face his own self-doubts, outbursts of angry feminism, and revelations about Katya’s past he’ll wish she kept to herself.

Entertaining, honest, and brutally realistic, this is a story of an ordinary man dating a very modern woman.

The second:

And it started off so well.

When a middle-aged British man meets Katya, a charming Russian woman, he thinks he’s finally found what he’s looking for. But one morning she blurts out a piece of her past which changes everything. Torn between staying and leaving, he tries to understand the life she’s led and the choices she’s made. But the more he discovers, the more questions arise. Why did she divorce the man she says she loved? What happened in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man? And why is she sticking with him?

Entertaining, honest, and brutally realistic, this is a story of a man in love with a woman he doesn’t know.

Vote please:

Which blurb do you prefer?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Share

41 thoughts on “Blurb for the Book

  1. Both are good, but the second is better. Except for:

    @What happened in the Orgy Dome at Burning [email protected]

    Delete Orgy Dome.

    I can guess what happened there, based on the name of the place. Even if I’m wrong, it sounds like it contradicts Betteridge.

    It also makes the reader think that the protagonist just has a problem with the missus having lived a lively past, wheras I suspect that the book is a bit more interesting than that.

    Without the Orgy Dome reference, the whole thing is more intriguing, and sounds like a whodunit.

  2. “Why is she sticking with him?”

    I’m much more interested in why he is sticking with her. She sounds like she’s WAY on the wrong side of the crazy/hot line. She better look like Olga Kurylenko or he’s insane!

  3. And what John Square said.

    I prefer the second, but I am not convinced that either version actually works for any of 1, 2 or 3.

  4. I can guess what happened there, based on the name of the place. Even if I’m wrong, it sounds like it contradicts Betteridge.

    Good point. You probably wouldn’t have guessed, but your point stands.

    It also makes the reader think that the protagonist just has a problem with the missus having lived a lively past, wheras I suspect that the book is a bit more interesting than that.

    Hmmm. At the risk of losing half my potential readers, that’s about the thrust of it. Man meets woman, she has a lively past. What does he do? Now this might not sell, but I need to be honest with the pitch. Of course, I think it’s more interesting than that and I’ve tried to make it so, but summed up in one sentence, that’s about it.

    Without the Orgy Dome reference, the whole thing is more intriguing, and sounds like a whodunit.

    Yeah, I need to make it intriguing but don’t want to miss-sell it. I need to think on it.

  5. A heartbreaking work of towering genius?

    That’s on the front cover, in quotes, with DuckyMcDuckface after it.

    I prefer the second, but I am not convinced that either version actually works for any of 1, 2 or 3.

    Yeah, here’s where I’m out of my depth. I might just about be able to write a half-decent blurb, but I have no idea if it is suitable to the target markets. I have absolutely no experience in pitching something like this, and unlike actually selling a book, there is no room for trial and error. I might have to get professional help, actually.

  6. I’m much more interested in why he is sticking with her. She sounds like she’s WAY on the wrong side of the crazy/hot line. She better look like Olga Kurylenko or he’s insane!

    Well, yeah. But the reason I wrote it is because after dozens and dozens of conversations with all sorts of men, alas we do sometimes stick with dodgy women who don’t look like Olga Kurylenko. Now of course, from an outsiders’ point of view (or with hindsight) we think the guy (or ourselves) must have been insane, but that’s not how it appears to the person involved at the time and he has reasons – however bizarre – for sticking around. I’ve not seen any of this written down, so I decided to do so and see if it sells.

    Of course, there are men out there who beat their chests and claim to be red-pilled alphas who wouldn’t take any shit from a woman and would dump her on the spot at the first sign of trouble, but the truth is 95% of men aren’t like that and relationships have to be worked at. How hard should we work at them? Well, that’s what the book is partly about.

  7. I might have to get professional help, actually.

    I mean with the blurb, not in general.

  8. What John Square said, plus cut out the first sentence, which sounds too homely. and cutesy. And will the first target group know what “Burning Man” is?

  9. 1. Women aged between 30-50 … with an interest in dating, relationships, and a man’s perspective. …

    Are women interested in a man’s perspective? Interested enough to buy a book, I mean. Maybe divorcees who want a new man? Will they want to be reminded that they have to compete with beautiful young harlots?

    2. Men aged between 20-50, seeking dating advice and/or looking to share bad experiences.

    Isn’t that what pubs are for?

    3. Men aged between 30-50 with daughters in their teens and above – OK, chaps probably do worry about their naive daughters. But do they discuss the matter with other chaps? And would they want to read a novel about such things?

    I think your best target might be category 1. Because Byron: Man’s love is of man’s life a part; it is a woman’s whole existence.

    So I invite you to write a third version of the blurb, describing the problems seen from Katya’s perspective. After all she too could wonder “How far should you go to maintain a relationship with a weird foreigner you met online?”

  10. dearieme,

    There’s only one way to answer the questions you raise. What I’m confident of is that there isn’t much point assuming x,y, and z doesn’t sell and instead trying to write to a proven formula.

    So I invite you to write a third version of the blurb, describing the problems seen from Katya’s perspective.

    That sounds more like a sequel. A blurb rarely detracts from the actual story being told…

    That said, her view is an interesting discussion, and she would have every reason to ask that question.

  11. The second version is much better than the first, Tim. However, I’d delete “What happened in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man?” And replace with something like, ‘What sexual secrets is she concealing?’. Allude and suggest rather than state, if you get my drift…

  12. Men don’t read fiction. Haven’t since World of Warcraft and Pornhub killed John Le Carre, Dan Brown, and Craig Thomas and buried them in a shallow, unmarked grave just outside Basra/under the Kremlin/ left them hanging upside down under a bridge near the Vatican.

    Your target market is anyone on Amazon with a Kindle subscription. Women who commute.

    And it started off so well.

    When Katja, a charming Russian artist, meets the middle-aged, but enthralling (dashing/handsome/funny/overpaid oil executive/adjectives of choice – you get my drift) expat Tim*, they both think they’ve finally found what they’re looking for.

    Until one morning, when she carelessly reveals a piece of her past, and everything changes. Torn between the certainty of a free life and his infatuation, Tim* wants to understand her past and the choices she’s made. But the more he discovers, the more questions arise. Why did she divorce the man she loved? What’s the secret of that night in Nevada? And why is she sticking by a man who has his own, unrevealed, past? Does Tim* even want to dig deeper?

    Entertaining, honest, and brutally realistic, this is a story of a man in love with a woman he doesn’t know, and of a woman who doesn’t fully know herself.

    * Insert name of male protagonist.

    (With thanks to Theophrastus)

  13. Theo, BiG,

    Thanks a lot for your input (particularly BiG’s rewrite). They both make perfect sense, but I might need to explain a few things (or at least, my thought process). However, to do so now will colour how people may vote so I’ll respond sometime tomorrow.

  14. The first and what cover picture are you thinking of?

    No idea: I’ll leave it to the graphic designer I’ll hire to make a few suggestions.

  15. FWIW:

    I’m guessing your main market will be #1. Women are more interested in relationship fiction than men, I think. Men want the gory details, women want the thoughts and feelings and reasons.

    I voted for #2. I’d go through and scrub men-oriented words. Words like “brutally”, “weird”, “orgy”, and “sticking” strike me as aggressive words whose gentler replacements can make women more comfortable.

    Also remember (as I’m sure you will) that your audience here is primarily male. You need to find women-centric places to do this same thing.

    Sounds intriguing!

  16. Bloke in Germany on October 31, 2017 at 9:17 pm said: “Men don’t read fiction.”

    I’d disagree, sort of. I think most men read lots of fiction that contains action, and technology – people doing cool stuff – while most women read Feelz fiction.

    That’s why it’s rare to see a crossover that men and women both buy. Neal Stephenson probably sold ten books to women. Danielle Steele probably sold ten books to guys.

  17. Hi Tim

    My first observation is that these read like they’ve been written by an engineer ( which you are) and not by a sales/ comms type bullshitter, that being said I think it needs to be a bit less literal, and more intriguing, hinting at the plot and content , enticing the reader in. But what do I know I’m an engineer too, and writing creative prose apart from justifying why I’ve overspent is not my bag either .good luck Tim i admire your spirit

  18. You will die when I say this, but a bloke who successfully wrote best-selling relationship fiction for men based on embellished autobiog was Anthony Burgess.

    No pressure, eh?!

  19. I like BiG’s rewrite, not least because it consigns the word “blurt” to the bin.
    Voted for 2.

  20. I guess I fit your 1 category, minus the rugrats. I would definitely be interested in the relationship story from the man’s perspective – there’s already way too much relationship crap out there written from the woman’s perspective (can you tell I am not a fan of chick lit?).

    I’m one of the odd ducks who liked your version 1, although I did like BiG’s rewrite of version 2.

    But what do I know – I’m also a scientist/engineer type, and I like action books more than feelz books. But I think I would enjoy a book written from the man’s perspective, even if it is about relationships and feelz and all that stuff.

  21. I chose option 1, because it actually sounds like an interesting journey, whereas the second sounds like Mills & Boon bullshit. Which would probably be best for your target audience, of which i am definitely none of the above, being male with no children and no need for dating advice.

    Guys definitely still read books, but not so much this type of book… I’d get a chapter in and give up in disgust that he hasnt dumped her as soon as he realised she had baggage.

  22. I too liked BiG’s rewrite. Delete the explicit stuff, such as ‘Orgy Dome’. Play up the mystery.
    Why do you call yourself ‘middle-aged’. 50 is the start of middle age, you’re still in the flower of youth (somewhat). (Oh, wait. This book isn’t just a thinly-disguised autobiography, is it?)

  23. Hi Tim!

    My first observation is that these read like they’ve been written by an engineer

    Shit, I hope you’re not gonna say that about the whole book! 😀

    You’re probably right, though.

    good luck Tim i admire your spirit

    Thanks!

  24. You will die when I say this, but a bloke who successfully wrote best-selling relationship fiction for men based on embellished autobiog was Anthony Burgess.

    Never heard of him, and I reckon I have an edge anyway because I’ve slipped a few Russian words in here and there.

  25. I would definitely be interested in the relationship story from the man’s perspective – there’s already way too much relationship crap out there written from the woman’s perspective (can you tell I am not a fan of chick lit?).

    Ah, finally a lady appears!

    I’ve discussed this project with a lot of women and they always react with “Oh hell yes, I’ll read that!” mainly because 1) there is very little out there dealing with a man’s thought process and women *are* interested in it, and 2) as you say, there is a mountain of chick-lit from the woman’s POV already out there. I’m trying to sell something a bit different, and from what I can tell (or at least I hope) women will be interested in it.

    But I think I would enjoy a book written from the man’s perspective, even if it is about relationships and feelz and all that stuff.

    Good!

  26. I chose option 1, because it actually sounds like an interesting journey, whereas the second sounds like Mills & Boon bullshit.

    I’m glad you said that, and I’ll explain why in a post today.

    I’d get a chapter in and give up in disgust that he hasnt dumped her as soon as he realised she had baggage.

    There is, of course, that danger. But I’m banking on a lot of men having stayed with women they should never have gone near, who will relate to the thought processes and self-justifications the character expresses.

  27. Burgess wrote a clockwork orange. The entire novel is in bastardised russian.

    So sorry, no edge!

  28. Why do you call yourself ‘middle-aged’. 50 is the start of middle age, you’re still in the flower of youth (somewhat).

    Heh! The protagonist is in his late 30s, which I’ve always thought middle aged with 50 being the start of becoming an old fart. Perhaps I should re-label him as “lithe youth in the peak of his life”?

    (Oh, wait. This book isn’t just a thinly-disguised autobiography, is it?)

    Hmmm. In many ways it is, yes. At the risk of losing my already dwindling band of potential customers, as my first book it was always going to contain a lot of autobiographical material. Anyone who knows me, even through this blog, is going to recognise that the narrator is largely based on me. The main characters are based on people I know, and a lot of conversations/situations therein actually took place. It was after several discussions with friends, colleagues, and complete strangers that I saw repeated patterns forming and the outline of a story take shape, which with some structure and embellishment could become a book. I always wanted to write a book, just to see what was involved, but always lacked a story – but now I’d found one. So yes, there are a lot of autobiographical and real-life shortcuts (which I believe a lot of authors use, especially first-time amateur hacks like me). Does this matter? Probably to a degree, but given this will hopefully reach an audience beyond my family, friends, and readers of my blog it shouldn’t matter too much if the story is engaging enough.

  29. Burgess wrote a clockwork orange. The entire novel is in bastardised russian.

    Oh boy. You didn’t actually fall for that, did you?

    Of course I know Burgess and a Clockwork Orange, and the Russian therein. He went to Xavier College in Rusholme, which you and I would have passed nearby almost daily for a time.

  30. Writing the blurb is almost harder than writing the entire book itself.

    Indeed, it’s a rather different skill altogether, as I’m discovering.

    I chose option C. Sorry.

    Of course. 🙂

  31. I was wondering whether you were playing it straight – very well done deadpan irony. So deadpan you could be mistaken for a German!

    Burgess was also made to worship at the Holy Name, right in the middle of the Victoria campus.

  32. #2 is way better. But I’d substitute the closing paragraph from #1.

    I see some commenters think “Orgy Dome at Burning Man” should be scratched. I disagree: the specificity is what makes it interesting. Yes, we can probably guess what happened, but that’s better than something generic.Plus, it’s funny.

    I suppose it depends on what kind of novel it is – is it funny? – and on precisely what happened in the Orgy Dome: was it what we might guess, or will it be a surprise when it’s revealed?

    Someone else upstream had the idea of pitching it more at female readers, since that’s the biggest market. That seems like a good idea to me, but if Katya isn’t a protagonist, then you have to be careful not to suggest that she is one.

    I’d also nix the word “entertaining”, since we can hope the book will be entertaining anyway. Advertising an entertainment product as “entertaining” is like a bloke proclaiming himself a “nice guy”: that’s how you’re supposed to be! Good luck.

    ——————————-

    Fuck it, I’ll have a crack:

    Katya’s an artist, beautiful and exciting. Sensible, straightforward [Protagonist] thinks she’s what he’s always been looking for – until he learns just how bohemian she really is.

    Their relationship groaning under the strain of their total incompatibility, he tries to understand the life she’s led and the choices she’s made. But the more he discovers, the more questions arise. Why did she divorce the man she says she loved? What happened in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man? And why, after all this, is she still sticking with [Protagonist]?

    Funny, honest, and brutally realistic, this is the story of an ordinary man dating a very modern woman.

    Bear in mind I haven’t read the book.

  33. Forgot to mention, I think the book will appeal to male readers much more if it’s funny, hence why I kept mentioning funny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *