Friday, August 18

The Bane of Blurb-Writing

Last week, I struggled to write about 1,000 words. And the worst part of that fairly low number is the fact that I was really just re-writing and perfecting the same 215 words over and over and over again. I was writing the blurb for my third book. And it was a long, painful process.

Take your 90K+ story and concentrate it down to two-three paragraphs, keeping only the most important themes and details, and written in a manner that entices… that “sells” your book. No pressure, here. Unless you’re a household-name kind of author, the blurb and the cover are how you sell a book. So you gotta get it right. Or better yet, you gotta get it intriguing.

This is the catch and the biggest challenge. As the author of my story, I want the blurb to accurately reflect it. And as an author, I’m a little too honest for my own sake. So when my blurb cites “political intrigue,” I chew my bottom lip and hover my fingers over the backspace button. I’m no Tom Clancy…I don’t want the reader miffed when my “intrigue” is not the backbone of the plot. And when I type “the sexy, mysterious vampire king,” I worry that the reader won’t find my hero as sexy and mysterious as I do. I also cringe at my attempt to use powerful action words and phrases, like embroiled, blood-searing seduction, arouses a hunger more primal…

I want to hook the reader’s interest in buying my book. But the blurb always feels overly dramatic to me. Which makes sense. If I’m reducing an entire books to the most concentrated parts—like any chef’s reduction sauce—what’s left is the most potent, flavorful, taste-bud-popping essence.

Then there is the blurb-writing process itself. Capturing the main plot and character points. Flicking away unnecessary bits of information like so much lint. Honing it. Then sending it to my writer friends for their input and suggestions, which is always helpful but also often frustrating. If you gave a hundred writers a story to write, you would get a hundred different stories…and it’s no different when asking their feedback on a blurb.

One epiphany that resulted from this process is the fact that I’m still figuring out my hero. It became blatantly clear to me during the hours I struggled to write his paragraph. I don’t have his character goal, motivation, and conflict quite figured out yet. I’m glad to know this, because I can give more thought to this as the story itself blossoms on my computer screen. Granted, I’m getting the cart before the horse, trying to write a blurb before I’ve competed even the first draft of the manuscript. Even so, having a finished, edited, and spit-polished ready-to-hit-publish book does not make writing the blurb any easier.

In what I’m hoping is a fun experiment, I’ve shown below the evolution of my blurb for Blood King. Not each reiteration, but the main ones:
 
Blood King Blurb 1
Count Dracula was a mere upstart nobody from an alien planet…
Kaz Lyon just met the King.
Count Dracula. The man, the myth, the legend…can’t hold a candle to the monarch of his alien blood-sucker lineage. Kazandra Lyon learns this truth intimately after she’s abducted from her “total getaway” vacation at a popular destination-planet resort. She finds herself in the clutches of a monster as an unwilling blood-donor, then in the arms of the sexy, mysterious king as an Honored Guest enthusiastically exchanging…well…a number of bodily fluids. Assuming she had failed at life and love on Earth, Kaz realizes hope for the future rests in the ashes of the past. But as her nightmares portend a mass murder, is her future—or her fate—truly alongside the lusty king who hungers for her?
Niko Lahdunae, King of Vahduna, has been away from his homeworld for too long. Upon his return, he finds a beautiful earthling in his bed and imbedded in his dreams. Struggling with the primal appetites she whets, he must reawaken the proud heritage of his race while keeping his randy fangs to himself where the traumatized Kaz is concerned. He will need more than his title and bedroom eyes to entice her love, but her fiery spirit makes the attempt all the more satisfying in the end.
Now, if only he catch the killer who is drinking his staff and guests to death.
 
Blood King Blurb 2
Dracula was a wannabee from an alien race of bloodsuckers…
And she just met their King.
 
Kazandra Lyon’s “total getaway from her failed life” vacation on a popular destination-planet sucks. But when she is abducted to a dark castle mired in twilight, her vacation sucks on a whole new level. First an unwilling blood-donor to a monster, then an Honored Guest in the home of the sexy and mysterious vampire king. As her nightmares foreshadow murder, will her dreams of love and a career grow long in the tooth? And will she dare to stick her neck out for the lusty king who thirsts for only her?
His family destroyed by his enemy, King Niko Lahdunae had long ago abandoned his people to the darkness. Upon his return, he discovers his royal influence is as welcome as a stake to the heart. On the bright side, there is a spirited earthling in his bed. Struggling with the primal hunger she whets, he must resurrect his race’s proud heritage from its ashes while keeping his randy fangs to himself where beautiful Kaz is concerned.
Now, if only he can catch the killer who is drinking his staff and guests dry.   
 
Blood King Blurb 3
Dracula was a mere upstart nobody from an alien race of bloodsuckers…
Kaz just met the alien race’s King.
 Kazandra Lyon’s failed life sucks. But her vacation to a popular destination-planet sucks on a whole new level. She’s abducted and whisked off to a dark castle mired in twilight where she struggles against the attacks of a bloodthirsty monster and her growing attraction to the sexy and mysterious vampire king. Embroiled amidst murdered palace staff, political power struggles, and the king’s blood-searing seduction, has Kaz bitten off too much? Will she return to the unhappy safety of her failed life or stick her neck out and embrace a future with the lusty king who thirsts for her?
King Niko Lahdunae has been away from his homeworld for too long, his influence weak and his vision for his people a relic from a bygone era. He struggles to regain his royal standing as monarch, resurrect his race’s proud heritage, and keep his randy fangs off his beautiful guest. Kazandra’s spirit and humor arouses a hunger in him more primal than the need for her life-giving blood, but can he entice her to remain as his Honored Guest…and possibly his wife? And can he thwart the relentless killer who is drinking his people dry before Kaz becomes the next victim?
 
Please don't tell me you don't like my final blurb, or that you prefer one of the earlier versions, or you'd recommend I change/tweak/delete/add something... it's already been sent to the cover artist! (Hmmm, maybe I should have waited for everyone's input...) But hopefully you can see how a blurb can evolve. 

9 comments:

  1. Writing a blurb is the hardest thing but I think you've managed to create an interesting, attention-grabbing description of your book. I can't wait to read it! Great post!

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    1. Thanks Lisa! Your comments and suggestions on my earlier versions were a great help!!

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  2. I think you did a great job, Ava! Blurb writing is the bane of my existence!!!

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    1. Thanks Kristi! It's amazing how difficult crafting a couple hundred words can be!

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  3. You're in luck, Ava. I definitely like your final blurb best. As a reader, I know immediately the book has a sci-fi/fantasy element as well as a sense of humor. But I also know there's going to be a mystery to solve which intrigues me. I think it's a kick-ass blurb!

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    1. Whew! Jana, I'm so glad to hear that! These 200 words have a LOT of responsibilities, don't they? I'm glad I (finally) got it!

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  4. A great job. A blurb is second only to synopses on my hates list!

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  5. My Blurb Queen services are available free of charge. 😆

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