Feedback on the Blurb

Firstly, I want to thank everyone for pitching in on the book blurb. 70 of you voted, 48 said you preferred the second one, 18 the first, and 4 miserable sods said both were shite, which perhaps they are. Thank you for voting, and especially for all those who wrote a comment, especially Bloke in Germany who – if readers’ reactions to his re-write are anything to go by – will be demanding royalties if this thing ends up on Oprah.

This was a fascinating exercise because it turned up results that were wholly unexpected and I need to explain why. I will start by saying this book defies categorisation, and a book agent has confirmed that. It is not really a romance, and it is most definitely not a typical, formulaic romance. It’s not even a romance with a twist, it is barely a romance at all. It is far more of a character study of two people, both of whom are flawed, struggling in a relationship with one another. It is also social commentary, and as readers of my blog should know, when it comes to that I generally don’t water things down. There are some pretty robust opinions in there, and much of what I say will generate plenty of controversy. This is why I made the decision not to engage a female editor, because I think the type of woman who goes into editing will have serious problems with a lot of the commentary taking place. A lot of people will not like this book, and quite a few might even hate it. On the plus side, this is what sells: my ultimate aim is to see a hundred thousand deranged feminists wearing pussyhats taking part in a mass burning of my book in the middle of Brooklyn.

The reason I chose this story was because it presented itself and I reckoned it would be easy to tell, but also because I thought I would be saying things that haven’t been said before in a way which is new, and I still believe that’s the case. Now it may be it’s a bag of shite and nobody is interested, but the important thing is I tell *this* story in *my* way and see if it sells. If it doesn’t, then meh. What I didn’t want to do is try to write a story which has been told before in a way which is “proven”, hoping I can do a better job than a million other writers. Perhaps I can attempt that on my third or fourth book, but not the first. Like I try to do with this blog, I reckon I have a better chance of capturing a small but dedicated niche audience rather than gaining mass appeal by saying what everyone else is and copying their style. In many ways the book is an extension of the blog, and my regular readers will recognise the narrator’s voice in places.

So, back to the blurb. The first one was my overwhelming preference because it accurately reflects the book. The one other person in the world who has read it thought this was the case too, and chose the first. I wrote the second as a generic blurb for a romance in a few minutes, but it doesn’t really reflect the book. As Adam Thiele says in the comments, the second one sounds like Mills & Boon bullshit. BiG did a grand job of improving it, but alas it doesn’t reflect the story at all – it suggests a romance with a hint of mystery to entice people in which would be great if it was a classic romance novel – but it’s not.

I learned from flogging overpriced meals in a four-star hotel that customers don’t complain about rubbish per se, they complain that their expectations haven’t been met. I may be able to shift more copies initially with my second blurb (or BiG’s edit!) but the customer will feel disappointed and leave a bad review. If I go with the first, many people might not like it and hence not buy it, but at least those that do will get roughly what they are expecting, i.e. something different. Put another way, I’d rather reach a niche market of 10,000 customers likely to be satisfied than wade into a market of 100,000 most of whom will be disappointed.Therefore I need to be honest in the blurb and give a hint of the controversy inside, and not miss-sell it. Saying that, I am quite sure regardless of the blurb a lot of people who read this book will put it down and say “Well, that wasn’t what I expected!” Like I said, it’s hard to categorise.

What I found most interesting about the vote is this. I don’t know how my readers evaluated the two options, but did they:

1) Think I was writing a romance and judge the second blurb to be more typical and fitting with a romance novel, hence likely to generate more sales?

2) Know nothing about the book and on the basis of the blurb alone decide they’d rather read Book 2 than Book 1?

Because if it’s the second one, I have discovered that my readers – who appear to be mostly male, middle-aged, and centre-right – would rather read a soppy romance novel of a classic form than a story of a fellow battling angry feminists as he tries to handle a near-nutcase and navigate the Brooklyn arts scene. I’ve got to say, that surprised me a lot.

Once again, thanks very much for your input and all the support I’m getting. I have some thinking to do, but given the editing won’t be finished until January, I have time.

Share

40 thoughts on “Feedback on the Blurb

  1. Interesting post, and a couple of thought provoking points.

    The question that bubbles out of this for me is: are you sure you’ve written a romance? It genuinely sounds to me like you’ve come up with something more like literary fiction, so congrats- you are highbrow, and commiserations, you’ll sell fuck all.

    If I were you, I’d go back and reread it, and think about how it’d look being published by Faber and whether a pull quote by Will Self would look good on the cover. It sounds more like Peter Carey than Ms Cartland.

    On a slightly more serious note- I’ve been toying (as in, the damn thing is written, but I cannot for the life of me decide whether it’s any good) with a book that sounds ballpark similar. Two people: bloke in his mid 30’s, girl of 19- who end up in what may be a relationship, but the bloke is a bit too beta to crack on with it, and the chick holds all of the power and influence that the casual observer might suspect lies with the chap in such circumstances.

    In no universe would I consider it a romance, even though that’s at the nub of the tale. Character study- yes; controversial- I think so; thought provoking- hopefully. I would call it Literary Fiction (if I were that pompous), simply because nothing else fits.

  2. I’ve read both the previous post and this one just now and I think you are probably wise to stick with version 1 if version 2 is “generic”.

    I agree with you that version 1 will effectively winnow out a readership that might otherwise be disappointed. For my own part I would definitely avoid Book 1 whereas I might just conceivably on a wet afternoon in winter with nothing else to do ask Amazon to download a sample of Book 2.

    The good news is that I’m not in any of your target readership groups.

  3. “…would rather read a soppy romance novel of a classic form than a story of a fellow battling angry feminists as he tries to handle a near-nutcase and navigate the Brooklyn arts scene. I’ve got to say, that surprised me a lot.”

    Yes, because wading into battle with the loonier end of third-wave feminism by writing a novel is likely to be crazy, ineffective, and get you on Oprah for the wrong reasons.

    You cannot reason with irrational people. If someone has a deep-seated irrational belief, it takes a life-changing experience, not an argument, to persuade them otherwise. Sometimes you have to realise that and let go of it. Especially when it’s a baying mob.

    Likewise on the other side, you’ve irrational masculists, the pills and gamers, who constitute a much bigger audience than from a well thought-out semi-romantic semi-masculist argument of a novel. So some of your readers will think you are a dictatorial rape advocate and others that you’re a gamma wimp. I know everyone now gets categorised as either a fascist xeno/islamo/trans/homo-phobe (by people 0.1% to the left of them) or cowardly cuck SJW (by people 0.1% to the right of them), but the dichotomy you’re gonna get stuck in will be huge fun!

    That said people have done this kind of thing before. I am racking my brain for a couple of examples I have read. Kahlil Gibran? Not quite, but perhaps close.

  4. Getting feminists to hate it may well end up being a good selling point. Nothing sells better than tickets on the outrage bus.

  5. The question that bubbles out of this for me is: are you sure you’ve written a romance?

    No, but it’s not a murder-mystery either. It’s more romance than any other category, but that doesn’t mean it’s a romance.

    It genuinely sounds to me like you’ve come up with something more like literary fiction, so congrats- you are highbrow, and commiserations, you’ll sell fuck all.

    This book is about as highbrow as a Viz annual.

  6. You cannot reason with irrational people.

    Oh, I quite agree, which is why I’m not trying to sell it to feminists or persuade them of anything. By contrast, I’m trying to sell to men and women who don’t hold much truck with third-wave feminists and view them with much suspicion.

    If someone has a deep-seated irrational belief, it takes a life-changing experience, not an argument, to persuade them otherwise.

    Indeed, and this is discussed in the book. 🙂

    Likewise on the other side, you’ve irrational masculists, the pills and gamers, who constitute a much bigger audience than from a well thought-out semi-romantic semi-masculist argument of a novel. So some of your readers will think you are a dictatorial rape advocate and others that you’re a gamma wimp.

    Exactly, but I’ve long suspected the red-pilled self-declared alphas and the male feminists are minorities at the loony end of the spectrum and the vast majority are normal blokes with some alpha and some beta characteristics who might identify with the protagonist.

  7. I voted for the first blurb on the basis of the second reason ie that’s the book I wanted to read.

  8. Blurb 1 is for chicks. Blurb 2 is for men.

    Blurb 1 was all mystery, bizarre, feminism. It set a mood and sought to pull my interest in. It failed. I’m a man. Too right brain.

    Blurb 2 was more facts, questions. Left brain. Man. Hence I voted 2.

  9. TN: Aw. 🙁

    But I also make it a rule to avoid anything that gets reviewed in the Sunday papers or gets shortlisted for a literary prize. I give a wide bearth to anything that is “edgy” or “challenging” where the art of telling a story has been displaced by a desire to explore “issues”.

  10. @Tim N

    “This book is about as highbrow as a Viz annual.”

    My thought exactly when I read Great Apes by Will Self. Still counts as litfic.

  11. Not in target audience and not interested in the book itself (interested in how it goes for you, though, which is a different thing).

    However I thought blurb 2 was superior, particularly in BiG’s rewrite, purely as a blurb. The book as described in blurb 2 did not sound better, necessarily, than the book as described in blurb 1. But blurb 2 seemed to do the blurb-like job of saying “read this book!” whereas blurb 1 is more like “this is the outline of this book”. Blurb 2 at least seemed to be trying to sell me on something, some kind of mystery that is revealed more over the course of the book. Obviously if I don’t particularly care about the mystery this probably doesn’t make me any more likely to read it, but at least in principle some kind of reason to read it was presented. Blurb 1 could perhaps benefit from a slightly “sellier” rewrite.

    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.

    Thought this section of blurb particularly weak. I generally don’t like it when someone describes something as “bizarre” in an effort to make it sound interesting. It’s good for a character to face challenges and all, but that doesn’t sound like an enthralling list of challenges to see how he surmounts (or not). And together the two sentences read like a plot summary rather than “read this to find out what happened”.

    My $0.02. Other folk better qualified than me. But this may explain, in part, the general preference for blurb 2.

  12. I voted for the first blurb on the basis of the second reason ie that’s the book I wanted to read.

    Good!

  13. Blurb 1 is for chicks. Blurb 2 is for men.

    Ha! I thought it was the other way around!

  14. Blurbs are supposed to sell, hence my choice of option 2. Have no desire to read a romance, but 65-70% of the reading public is female, and a fair proportion of them do.

  15. I voted 1 but I like BiG’s rewrite.

    I’m not in what you believe is your target demographic.

  16. I give a wide bearth to anything that is “edgy” or “challenging” where the art of telling a story has been displaced by a desire to explore “issues”.

    I’ve tried to to both. :-/

  17. Not in target audience and not interested in the book itself (interested in how it goes for you, though, which is a different thing).

    This will be a success in one way, for sure: I set out to find out what it takes to write, publish, and market a book. I’ll have answered that question by the end of this, even if I find myself giving them away to charity shops who tell me they don’t want it.

    Thought this section of blurb particularly weak. I generally don’t like it when someone describes something as “bizarre” in an effort to make it sound interesting. It’s good for a character to face challenges and all, but that doesn’t sound like an enthralling list of challenges to see how he surmounts (or not). And together the two sentences read like a plot summary rather than “read this to find out what happened”.

    That’s a good comment, thanks.

  18. Bear in mind that none of us have read the book, Tim. Blurb 1 may well be a better blurb for your particular story, but blurb 2 was a better blurb in and of itself.

    I suppose that’s because a generic romance story – “Mills & Boon bullshit” – is easier to sell, being a familiar concept, whereas your book sounds a little weirder.

    You’re absolutely right that you don’t want to give readers the wrong expectation, but as it stands blurb 1 needs a lot of spit and polish, if you don’t mind my saying so.

    (For instance: either assume the reader knows what Burning Man is, and don’t describe it – i.e., cut “…an annual gathering where anything goes.” – or assume the reader doesn’t know what Burning Man is, so there’s no point naming it – i.e., “…obsessed with strange hippie festivals and such…”)

    I must admit, it’s an interesting challenge trying to get so much across in so few words. I may have another crack at it just for my own amusement.

  19. You’re absolutely right that you don’t want to give readers the wrong expectation, but as it stands blurb 1 needs a lot of spit and polish, if you don’t mind my saying so.

    Indeed, it was a first draft that will undoubtedly take some work. I put them on the blog mostly to see if I was in the completely wrong direction, and to get some decent feedback – and boy, I got it!

    I might get a professional company to do this for me, who knows how to market books. Or I might get 10 or so people to read it first – advance copies – and then ask them to review how good the blurb is or not.

  20. This will be a success in one way, for sure: I set out to find out what it takes to write, publish, and market a book.

    Good for you.

    Am at the early stages of the same, though factual not fiction and a completely different area and target demographic. I’ve been very impressed with the pace at which you’ve been bringing things toward fruition.

  21. I’ve been very impressed with the pace at which you’ve been bringing things toward fruition.

    A lot of that is down to the fact I had the story in my head already, including most of the details. Plus, I can type fast: once it’s in my head, it’s on the page within minutes. Blogging has helped with that.

    Good luck in your venture!

  22. I might get a professional company to do this for me, who knows how to market books.

    Here, you can use this for $50 and a case of Heineken:

    How much weirdness can you take?*

    It’s a question [protagonist] struggles with when he falls in love with Katya, an artsy Russian expat who’s not quite what she seems. Their relationship takes him deep into the bizarro world of Brooklyn bohemia, where angry feminists mingle with misfit hipsters, and hippie jam festivals aren’t something to be avoided. And, as if that wasn’t enough, there’s the hair-raising revelations about Katya’s past…

    Hilarious and incendiary**, this is the brutally honest story of an ordinary man dating a very modern woman.

    * Alt: how weird must it get before you pull the plug?; How weird can it get?; How weird does it have to get before you pull the plug?

    ** Can’t put “controversial” on the first edition, but if you do manage to inspire any riots…

  23. Here, you can use this for $50 and a case of Heineken:

    That’s brilliant! I might take you up on that! 🙂

  24. “it’s not a murder-mystery either”: if it fails, as first novels mostly do, why not consider writing a murder mystery that, as the case proceeds, reveals the sort of society and relationships that have interested you here?

    In other words, build on your near-inevitable failure so that your second book is a genre success. A genre success is a success after all.

  25. why not consider writing a murder mystery that, as the case proceeds, reveals the sort of society and relationships that have interested you here?

    That’s precisely what I’m doing, indeed I’ve started it already. Slow progress, though.

  26. BiG’s.

    He’s grasped the real point which is, how the hell do we all negotiate relationships when we’ve all had a few or more before we think about settling? This is something almost entirely unknown in human history. An examination of how that does work will be interesting to many.

  27. But, Tim the Lesser, people used to remarry after being widowed multiple times.

    As distinct from multiple Tims, obs.

  28. Newman – thanks! I live to give.

    Worstall – might I recommend the classic film Chasing Amy?

    Dearime – indeed. Might I recommend the classic film Daisy Kenyon?

  29. I voted 2

    I think 1 sounds boring and would not bother to read it on the basis of the blurb; 2 sounds as if there is a story there.

    If, Tim, you are planning an exposition of your posts (and the limited dialogue I read you posted sometime earlier, isn’t encouraging on that front) then it isn’t a good book to post as fiction. Perhaps faction; fictionalised fact.

    A reader wants a story and that is what blurb 2 promises. the “angle”, etc., is another matter. Why do you have to give that upfront if that is what makes the story interesting or challenges the reader’s views? I.e. by reading the novel part of the surprise is the attitudes it portrays. (Many fictional stories have as one aim to make the reader sit up and take note. Orwell is master of that in his fictional writings. As was Huxley…and many others.)

    A teaser maybe in the blurb to foreshadow what the reader might expect.

    (Disclaimer: I have written a few novels now and two are available on Kindle Direct [Amazon] and I found writing the blurb and the synopsis incredibly hard. So maybe my views aren’t to be taken as great commentary.)

  30. If, Tim, you are planning an exposition of your posts

    I’m not, no.

    Why do you have to give that upfront if that is what makes the story interesting or challenges the reader’s views?

    It’s a fair question, and I’ll answer it as best I can. Basically, book blurbs are so cliche-ridden and formulaic that they may as well be written by a piece of software. The second one I wrote took me a few mins and two commenters knocked out their own which were vast improvements on mine. The problem is, all three would only work if this was indeed a classic romance (or something close to it) because that’s the formula the blurb followed (had I been writing a murder mystery, they’d have been equally formulaic). So the problem is twofold:

    1) If you’re writing blurb for a book in a given category, you need to really work at it to rise above the other cliche-ridden blurbs. That’s what makes it so difficult, I think.

    2) If your book defies categorisation, you can’t write formulaic blurb that people will read and automatically assume puts it into a category. They’ll go in expecting X and get Y, which IMO is disastrous. However, this presents a different kind of difficulty because you need to come up with a blurb which sits all on its own. That’s what I tried to do in 1.

    I think you sort of made this point here:

    I think 1 sounds boring and would not bother to read it on the basis of the blurb; 2 sounds as if there is a story there.

    Yes, 2 sounds as though there’s a romance story there, but there isn’t. 1 might be boring – and that can be improved – but I don’t think it should come at the expense of misleading the customer. And I suspect if I were good enough to disappoint a reader but win them around by making them sit up and take note, we’d not be having this conversation at all!

    A teaser maybe in the blurb to foreshadow what the reader might expect.

    I think that’s vital. Like I said, I’d rather have 10 readers whose expectations are met than a 100 who think they’ve been sold a pup.

    I have written a few novels now and two are available on Kindle

    So how are they selling? Did you have to switch marketing strategy at all, based on actual sales? I am half expecting to change the blurb if it doesn’t work, because only sales (or lack of them) is going to tell me if I’ve got it right or not.

    Thanks for your input!

  31. I’m arriving a bit late here, but I think the first blurb is far superior. It engages the reader by opening with a question that encourages the reader to think about how he or she would deal with the challenges (whatever they may be) that the characters face. It teases the reader with a mystery, and subtly flatters potential buyers by suggesting that you, dear reader, are just the kind of sagacious personage who might know the right answers. It then continues to describe the book in terms of questions and mysteries so it remains thematically consistent and builds on the initial hook.

    I would suggest some changes to the wording. The word “artsy” is too colloquial for this context. You need to make Katya sound more mysterious so something like “a Russian artist” or “a radical Russian artist” would work better. I’m not sure that you need to explain what “Burning Man” is, but if you want to include an explanation just to make sure then you need to avoid making it so obvious. For example, you could say something like “the notorious Burning Man festival where anything goes and nothing is taboo”. The art of exposition is to tell people what they need to know without them noticing that you’re doing it. Finally, remove or change the reference to “angry feminism”. It’s not going to have the same connotations to the average non-political citizen that it does to the generally right-wing, cynical and anti-establishment audience of this blog so it might put off more potential readers than it attracts.

  32. @AndrewZ

    You have also picked up on the section of blurb 1 that I thought was weakest. The points you are listing are ones I also wanted to make but felt like my comment had probably got long enough! So this is a +1 to your suggestions

    @Peter

    Also curious how you got on.

  33. Have you checked how many verbs you use in the passive voice? If your editor is fool enough to believe in Strunk and White, you might have a problem 😀

  34. Have you checked how many verbs you use in the passive voice?

    No, I’ve avoided all style guides and written what I thought reads well. I barely know what the passive voice is!

    If your editor is fool enough to believe in Strunk and White, you might have a problem

    Hopefully not! He referred to the Chicago Style, but that’s more for consistency with punctuation, etc. At least, he thankfully never mentioned removing all examples of the passive voice when we discussed the work and his sample edit. Unnecessary adverbs and too much spoon-feeding the reader, yes; passive voice, no.

  35. I’m arriving a bit late here, but I think the first blurb is far superior.

    Thanks, Andrew. I reckon the way to go is to modify the content of Number 1 but use the voice, and add the mystery, of Number 2.

    I would suggest some changes to the wording. The word “artsy” is too colloquial for this context. You need to make Katya sound more mysterious so something like “a Russian artist” or “a radical Russian artist” would work better.

    I probably agree with this, but bear in mind I’m pitching it mainly to Americans. The term “arsty” doesn’t quite mean “artist” and part of the story deals with how people living a certain lifestyle claim to be artists. “Artsy” covers this, but I agree: I should not be using ambiguous or colloquial terms in the blurb. Some work to do still!

  36. Also a bit late to the party, but on the off chance that my comments might prove helpful:

    I thought the second blurb was better. Starting off with a rhetorical question can be tempting for the author, but it also tempts the reader to dump the book with a negative answer. “How far should you go…?” “Not far at all”. The second blurb starts with a phrase which immediately builds tension, between the good beginning and the doubtful end.

    The first blurb is also a lot more vague. Compare “discover she’s not who she seems” with “one morning she blurts out a piece of her past”. The first is vague and abstract, the second is something which the reader can visualize.

    The same goes for the rest of the text. “Seeking a solution”, “he stumbles into”, “On the way he must face”. Compare it with the specifics of the second blurb: “Why did she divorce the man she says she loved?” “What happened at (specific event)?”

    I think both of the blurbs suffer from a second weakness: It’s not clear what’s at stake for the man. You’ve got six lines detailing all the problems with her, and half a sentence saying what he sees in her, and that in abstract terms: “as he falls in love” and “found what he’s looking for”. The imbalance here begs the question – why is he staying with her? Just dump her and find another one. You want the reader to be caught in the tension which the main character is experiencing, not frowning in confusion as he thinks “Just dump her” and puts the book back on the shelf.

    (I hesitate to mention the possibility – because I have not read the manuscript, and reading your blog inclines me to view your new venture with confidence – but it is possible that this may reflect a weakness in the manuscript.)

    Let me try to build an example, to convey what I am suggesting:

    And it started off so well.

    At 38, Tim has reached the point where everyone he knows is married. This, he decides, is a problem, especially when he meets Katya, a stunning Russian woman ten years his junior. Except for some reason, Katya seems as interested in him as he is in her. Three weeks later she moves in. His problems are solved.

    And then 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. Why did she divorce the man she says she loved? What happened in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man?

    And if everything she’s said is true, why was she interested in him in the first place?

    (132 words).
    (This should not be viewed as an attempt at a perfect blurb, merely to convey what I was saying about balancing the two elements)

    As for the question of genre: I think that the main characteristic of a Romance is that the plot centers around a relationship. This seems to be the case in this story. It may be atypical, in that it’s told from a male point of view, or that it is also trying to convey certain sociological ideas. It’s still a Romance. My point is this: Most Romance novels are bought by women. If a woman is reading this novel, with whom do you expect her to relate more – the main character, or Katya? If the answer is Katya, and the ending is a downer – that is, Katya gets dumped because all of her baggage makes her unlovable – then this may be a problem.

    I hasten to add that I have no publishing experience, and the closest I’ve come is trawling through all the archives at QueryShark – a pastime I would recommend to anyone who is working on a manuscript.

  37. “How far should you go…?” “Not far at all”.

    That was actually the point, it was slightly tongue-in-cheek.

    The imbalance here begs the question – why is he staying with her? Just dump her and find another one.

    Well, yes. But other than the self-declared, red-pilled alpha males people generally don’t do this (most guys have hung in relationships with the wrong person for a while). The book actually goes into why men don’t just “dump her and find another one” at the first sign of trouble; if nobody is interested in the answer then they’ll not enjoy the book, which gets me back to what I said before about this really being aimed at a niche (but IMO quite large) market of people. Basically, if people aren’t interested in the content of the book, that’s not the fault of the blurb!

    (I hesitate to mention the possibility – because I have not read the manuscript, and reading your blog inclines me to view your new venture with confidence – but it is possible that this may reflect a weakness in the manuscript.

    It may be a weakness, or it may be a strength. There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by shoving it under people’s noses and seeing who’s interested.

    If a woman is reading this novel, with whom do you expect her to relate more – the main character, or Katya?

    That’s a fascinating question. Personally, I think it will split opinion but I really don’t know. I fully expect a lot of people to think the narrator a dick, and he’s supposed to be the good guy. But I have tried to make him likeable, and such that people can relate to him.

    Thanks for the comment, especially about balancing the two elements, it is all useful.

    One thing’s for sure: I hope the actual book generates as much discussion as the first draft blurbs did!

  38. The imbalance here begs the question – why is he staying with her? Just dump her and find another one.

    Well, yes. But other than the self-declared, red-pilled alpha males people generally don’t do this (most guys have hung in relationships with the wrong person for a while).

    I understand that most men don’t do this. I’ve been there, myself. There’s always a reason, which sounds convincing in their minds. It sounds like the book conveys his reasons, which make him into a well-rounded protagonist with whom the reader can identify. That’s great. But the blurb does not, and in this sense I think it may not be doing its job of enticing the reader. You’ve got to hint at a deeper motive, to make him (within the confines of the blurb) into a real person behaving like I might behave, and not a character in a book behaving in a manner convenient for the author.

    The details I made up in my example are supposed to make Katya into more than just a beauty he’s fallen for. He suddenly realizes it’s way past time for him to settle down, and Katya’s his best chance to get it right (perhaps I should have made him 43 years old). Of course, these details might be entirely unsuitable for your novel, but you could do this in a hundred different ways. Say, the man’s job had him wandering all over the world for ten years, and now he wants to build a nest. Just a random suggestion 🙂

    I hope you won’t find my comments querulous. I followed you over here from David Thompson’s site, and very much enjoyed trawling through your older posts. I wish you all the best with the novel. I would like to repeat my recommendation to visit Janet Reid’s QueryShark blog. There’s a lot of incisive criticism of book queries (which share many characteristics with blurbs), and incisive criticism is always helpful, especially when it’s of other people’s work. Most of what I wrote reflects what I read there, so to the extent you find it useful, you may prefer to get it from the source.

    Best of luck!

  39. It sounds like the book conveys his reasons, which make him into a well-rounded protagonist with whom the reader can identify. That’s great. But the blurb does not, and in this sense I think it may not be doing its job of enticing the reader. You’ve got to hint at a deeper motive, to make him (within the confines of the blurb) into a real person behaving like I might behave, and not a character in a book behaving in a manner convenient for the author.

    Ah okay, yes: that makes perfect sense, and is useful. Thanks!

    Of course, these details might be entirely unsuitable for your novel, but you could do this in a hundred different ways.

    This too!

    I hope you won’t find my comments querulous.

    Not at all, on the contrary I like interacting with my readers, and have no problem with them pressing my buttons – especially when I ask for blunt feedback on something.

    I followed you over here from David Thompson’s site, and very much enjoyed trawling through your older posts. I wish you all the best with the novel.

    Thanks! I hope you’ll stick around. 🙂

    I would like to repeat my recommendation to visit Janet Reid’s QueryShark blog.

    Thanks for that, I will check it out. At this stage, I’m sure I’ll find it useful.

Leave a Reply

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