Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Curious Case Of Blurb Writing

One of the plus sides of self-publishing is that you don't have to write a complete synopsis or a query letter. Yay for that, but you still have to write a blurb (or short synopsis) for your book. It either goes up on every digital site your sell or advertise your book listing or it goes on the back of your paperback, and in most cases it goes to both. It is vital to have one, otherwise no one will know what your book is about and you'd better make it a good one otherwise no one will want to read your hard work.

I really hate blurb writing. Hate it with a capital H. It's no fun, and I'm pretty sure I've gained some gray hair just from trying to come up with two coherent paragraphs about my book. And revision after revision and even seeing it on the back of my paperback proof I am still questioning whether it is good enough. Because let's be honest here, in self-publishing “good enough” is never, EVER, “good enough”. You can't just be good if you want to succeed, you have to be great, fantastic, amazing. And this isn't about making money, when I say “if you want to succeed” I'm talking about gaining fans, having people recommend your book, and people enjoying your vision. That is success. But you can't just be good, a lot of people are good. You have to stand out.

Years ago I wrote to one of my idols, Gary Gygax, if you don't know who the man is then Google him. He is known as the father of D&D. I had this idea, an RPG (you know, the paper and pencil kind, not a video game), it was a world I'd created from years of playing Dungeons & Dragons, Rifts, and Gamma World. Even better I'd written scores of stories based on the adventures that all of our characters had played. P.S. If you didn't know: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the first novel of the Dragonlance Chronicles series, was written based on D&D sessions played by the authors, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, along with other friends (some of them went on to be Dragonlance authors as well). So my idea wasn't completely loony. Anyway, I wrote to him asking him how in the world do I go about breaking into this business. Amazingly he responded. His advice was simple, be great. He said that the downside is that RPG fans are amazingly creative, the game is made for you to think and be as creative as possible. Which mean that they all have great ideas, great worlds, maps, and therefore there are a lot of them out there trying to do the same thing as me. So if I wanted my world to stand out it had to be better than good, it had to be great. It had to be something different, because a lot of people where doing the same thing as me. He also said to not give up, keep trying. Many years later, I am still trying and not giving up.

I think this same thing applies to authors, we are all creative, otherwise we wouldn't be writing about all of these fanciful worlds and characters. This is a competitive industry because of that level of creativity. That is not to say you can't give support to your fellow authors, you should. You should promote the hell out of them, and vice versa, because as indie authors if we don't have each others backs then we all suffer. But you can't just be good, you have to be great. And the first thing a reader sees is your cover, after that it's your blurb. If you get the formula right it will hook the reader, and that is what you want obviously. So the stress of writing a great blurb can be the cause for late nights, stress breakouts, and gray hair.

There are a couple of different formula's out there for writing the “perfect” blurb. Do they work? I'm sure that they do, but the thing about a formula is that you still have to put your words down on paper and all the equations in the world sometimes don't help.

I've found one that I really do like, it's simple and helps you flesh out what you need to say. I found this months ago on Twitter and I figure passing it on to whoever it might help will put some pebbles in my good karma jar, so whenever I see someone stressing over a blurb (or synopsis) I always pass along this link:

As for my blurb for Waking Up In Bedlam, here it is (although I am still unsure if it is captivating enough, I suppose time will tell).

Waking Up In Bedlam

Ryder is a fake- and he knows it. He spends his days pretending to be a paranormal investigator and his nights entertaining groups of believers with his claims of communicating with the dead. Life is good and business is booming until the night a beautiful woman storms out of his seminar and a mysterious man drops an unexplainable case in his lap. Ryder finds out the world he thought was fake is actually real and even worse, he has become the paranormal world's most wanted.

Jessa wants answers and the human, Ryder, is the only one who can give them to her. She has one goal, keep him alive long enough to figure our why he has been haunting her dreams. The only problem is the more time she spends with him the more she realizes the answers she seeks are ones she isn't ready to face.

Can either one of them accept what fate has laid out for them? Or will they fight their destiny at the cost of everyone they hold dear?

 Available November 14, 2013

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