Friday, November 4, 2016

Blurbs and Elevator Speeches-A Necessary Evil

The French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote, "I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time."

Image result for letter writingThat is exactly the problem I think all writers face when attempting to present their work to the public. This is not just true for self-publishers, who are responsible for every word written about their books. For my upcoming nonfiction with SUNY Press, I was asked to provide copy as well. When it was still a work in progress, my classmates and I rode the elevator up and down practicing our perfect speeches for employers and grant funders.

If I could say everything in a few sentences, I would not have written the book. 

That's the impulse that stops us from creating compelling back copy and Amazon descriptions that rope in prospective readers for said book. Brutal criticism is, I find, essential in this process of taking your writing and turning it into a fifth-grade math problem, where the most important task is picking out the essential information and chucking the rest.

Add to that there are different blurbs for different audiences. Agents for traditional publishers don't want any surprises, so you have to lay all your cards on the table. But if a reader can imagine the whole story from the blurb, why bother reading it? Then you as an author get attached to words and phrases that become meaningless in your new context. 

I tried out what I thought was an "ok" back copy for A Vision in Crimson on my Facebook groups, and the response ranged from "totally awesome" to "I'm not buying that." It's a minefield. But, if you go in eyes wide open, knowing you're going to get blown up, then what you sift from the ashes could be the best possible version of yourself. 

So here's what I've got so far, after many self edits and proffered suggestions. Whether this is what makes the cover, well, how should I know?

Katelyn knows her magic is risky, but Icaryan light is fading fast and she is desperate. Returning to Earth, she crosses paths with Luca, a rogue vampire hybrid. Their weary hearts sparked by passion, Luca forsakes his own quest to root out his father, diving headlong into a world teeming with magic and danger.

But his father has not forgotten him.

A Vision in Crimson is the first installment of a new epic fantasy blistering with romance and Gothicism.

I'm happy with that right now, which is always a good thing. More suggestions are always welcome--it's never finished until it's on the cover, and even then...

The more we read and edit each other's blurbs, the better we'll all be at it. So please, if you have a blurb you want to test with me or other readers, please add it to the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. Great observations and blurb. The core of it.