There’s no doubt about it. Writing a blurb for the book jacket is either an art or a form of torture which should be outlawed under the Geneva Convention.
But I believe that part of the agony for the writer may lie in a misunderstanding of what the blurb is there for.
And this is the point where the readers of this post say, “Bennetts, obviously it’s to tell potential readers what the book’s about. ‘Struth, you get stupider every week!”
Well, yes-ish. Quite possibly.
But telling what the book’s about is not really what the blurb is there for. It’s really to get the potential reader to buy the book.
Now, I’ve always maintained that authors should not, I repeat should not, have anything to do with their own blurb or possibly even with their own pitch. Because if the author could sum up in 180 words what their book was about, they wouldn’t have to bother writing all 100K+ of the thing, would they?
They’d write the little article, say what they had to say, and then wander off for a round of golf or a dip in the sea…
Ask a novelist to write their own blurb and they come up with all the important things they’re saying in the book, and three quarters of the plot, and then some…No, no, and no.
How much of the plot? Probably no more than the first fifty to one hundred pages worth, with a hint of what follows. But absolutely no giveaways.
A bit about the setting or period should be included. So that a reader of fantasy or historical fiction can identify that they’d like it.
Another few hints about the characters the reader will meet within the covers of said oeuvre.
And a bit about the writing, if there is a style to be noted.
All of these are messages to the potential reader of ‘if you liked that, you’ll like this…’
That’s pretty much it. And the fact of the matter is that few authors have the ability to detach and to be that hard, cold and business-like about their own books. We always want to say, ‘But you haven’t mentioned…’
Which is a roundabout way to say that the blurb for my new book, Of Honest Fame, has now been written for the Advanced Information sheets. (Yes, I’m a little excited…)
Did I write it?
Er… That would be no.
They did let me look at it. And I should like to stress that looking involves the eyes and not the fingers on the keyboard…
Yes, of course, I did try to suggest that there were a couple of other characters or things that might be included which were very important. I was being helpful. They no doubt thought I was being petulant.
So I was ignored. As was right and proper.
And I’ll just go back to the growlery now and get on with the part which I do best…