Writing a Book Blurb is Hard Work

Arizona tree - Bruce Witzel photo

And it doesn’t seem to get any easier with practice! I’m at it for the fourth time and I feel as though it would be easier to write another book than it is to construct this short synopsis. Struggle, struggle, struggle.

I found a handy-dandy resource this morning over on Books Go Social Book Marketing Blog.

Using my current draft of Maelstrom’s blurb, here’s my take on a few of the steps.

A strong first sentence. This makes a lot of sense. Hook the reader right from the start.

A shot is fired into the still night air and a young woman dies up on Suicide Ridge.

Suicide Ridge - chalk - Lorna Friesen

Highlight the drama. Let the reader know what kind of book to expect.

A dangerous game of move and countermove has begun. The year is 1976, the setting, small town America. Over the course of one blistering week in late August burning winds of change sweep through Haddon Valley and no one’s life will ever be the same.

Name the characters and broadly sketch their circumstances.

Sheriff Bert Calder, with the help of Mayor Amos Thatcher, has held the isolated town of Haddon under his thumb for twenty-five years.

The sprawling estate of Casa Destino sits on the hill overlooking the town. Rafael Destino races against time to gain control of the all-important Haddon Valley Railroad. His goal – to destroy Amos Thatcher, the man he believes responsible for the death of his beloved sister.

Pencil sketch - Casa Destino - June Guenette

Myhetta, commonly known by the petty citizens of Haddon as the breed, is charged with carrying out Rafael’s revenge. But how far will his adoptive father push the young man who owes him everything?

Laura Thatcher has prided herself on being a person who makes do in a loveless marriage. She sleeps in the spare room and lavishes all her affection on her step-son Casey. Her quiet life explodes when Myhetta pulls her into the Destino’s blood feud against her husband.

Meanwhile, Calder lays his plans to regain control of Myhetta’s mother, Ahya, a woman who escaped his grip so many years before.

If the book is meant to be dramatic then play that up. Don’t be afraid of a little hype.

Maelstrom is a pot boiler of a reading experience. The dialogue sizzles, the characters jump off the pages and the story races along like a runaway train.

The road up to Casa Destion - chalk - Lorna Friesen

Well, there you have it. It’s back to the drawing board. I have my work cut out for me.

The Road to Aldeao - pastel work June Guenette

Except for the top photo, I’ve used examples of my mother and grandmother’s drawing to illustrate this post. Hopefully some of these images will make their way to the cover of Maelstrom. But that is still very much in the planning stage.

16 comments on “Writing a Book Blurb is Hard Work

  1. Queries are even worse for me. Good tips. Nice blog.

  2. diannegray says:

    Writing a blurb is actually harder than writing the novel (for me), Francis. These are great tips 😀

  3. melparish says:

    Definitely would rather write another novel than a blurb. I saw the same blog post about blurbs and was hoping it would help me with future attempts though I’m not too keen on the idea of the author hype – partly because I don’t pay too much attention to them when I’m looking for books – of course the writer thinks the book is thrilling, scary, whatever – but if it’s a quote from a review that’s (hopefully) a different matter. Even then, I’ve been disappointed by many books which have had a glowing quote from one of my favorite authors.

    • Good points on the hype, Mel. The book blurb is not necessarily the selling feature that makes it or breaks it for me – just one of many subtle factors that can cause me to take a longer look at a particular book. Maybe hype light – LOL.

  4. I prefer to write a blurb over writing the synopsis. I tend to agree with melparish’s thoughts on the author hype.
    Thanks for sharing the link and those drawings..loved them!

    • I’m pretty excited about the drawings. All of the many exercises that force us to hone down our work to the absolute basics are a challenge, for sure. Here’s me – plugging away.

  5. smilecalm says:

    i’m feeling well
    blurbed, thanks Francis 🙂

  6. Blurb is difficult. You need to engage people, make them buy and read the book, but you don’t want to give away too much to spoil the story, nor make it too long for potential readers to glance over. Ugh!

  7. Behind the Story says:

    Blurbs are hard. No matter how many times I write mine, I’m never satisfied.

    • I’m the same. I struggle and struggle with the thing and never get to that point where I could say, “Okay, aced that one!” Not my favourite part of the process, for sure.

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