The problems with blurb

March 4, 2015

 I've been scrolling through a whole host of books, trying to find a selection to download to read on the beach. I don't normally do this quite so intensively, usually stopping after I find a novel I like the sound of, but this time I wanted at least ten new novels on my Nook. And after reading blurb, after blurb, after blurb, I know what I don't like.These are the things that put me off buying:

  • Spelling - if there are spelling mistakes or glaring grammatical errors on the back of a book, what on earth is the inside going to be like?
  • Please use capital letters eg: gemm - a troupers tale. There was no capital letters anywhere in this extensive blurb (I only lifted one sentence, just to give you a flavour), but well done on the full stop...
  • Giving it all away. Here's an example: Claire goes back to her home town after many years of being away. She finds a job and  a place in the community, and discovers the love of her life. So, tell me - why should I buy this book? The author has told me the whole story in two short sentences.
  • Giving nothing away - all the information we get is something like... another best seller from XXXX. That may be okay if the author is well known, like Stephen King, for instance (I may buy it because of who the author is), but normally I like to know what a book is about before I start to read. And if the author is unknown to me, there's no way I would buy a book without some hint of its contents.
  • Ridiculous claims (see the point above) - another best seller from XXXX- when this was only the author's second novel, and the first had iffy reviews.
  • Telling the reader how wonderful the book is eg: Exciting sci-fi novel! or 'Packed with action, adventure and romance! I'll decide for myself whether it was exciting or not, thank you!
  • If you like Fifty Shades of Grey, then you'll love this! Claims like this, especially for a new or relatively unknown author, are dangerous. The author is comparing their work to a very well known novel - that's a big expectation to give a reader, and woe betide the author if their novel doesn't deliver.
  • Superfluous information, eg: This is the first novel that I wrote. I don't need to read this in the blurb, although 'début novel' may be okay. I also don't want any other information about the author in the blurb - for instance, I wrote this book as a way to explore XXXX. And I don't want to read They are related but they don't find out about it until chapter 10, either!
  • Too simplistic - Everything is bad. Then everything changes. Seriously, I haven't made this up, this is actually taken from a real life blurb.
  • In the fictional town of XXXX  - I get it, it's fiction, I know that, there's no need to tell me. That's the point of fiction - it's made up. I want to believe that it's true for the short time I'm in the story, so there's no need for the author to tell me in the blurb that he/she made it up The author may as well say: 'In the fictional ton of XXX, a fictional woman is attacked by a fictional zombie... See what I mean?

        These are some of things I came across recently that put me off when choosing a book, and I intend to apply all these don'ts when writing blurb for my own work. All I've got to do now, is to work out the dos. Easier said than done, methinks!


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