How important is a blurb to readers?

I had an itty-bitty blog break – just like on my 40th, I’ll have a ‘few’ wines. But like any comeback, I wanted to return with a bang and say, ‘Yeah, that’s right! This is why I blog: because I love to get stuck in, not because I have to.’ And I was bogged down in query hell where Blurb is a king who rules with an iron fist alongside his younger, less important but also unforgiving brother, Synopsis.

But since Blurb and I have had such a close relationship, I thought I would look into the true power that it wields. Does the king become the pauper when you take  it away from this kingdom of hell? Or will it shine because what makes it king will make it influential wherever it is?

So as a reader, how important is a blurb? As a writer, I’m trying to get the attention of an agent. But do the integral components I’m including, bonded together with a voice meant to create interest, translate to a reader as well? If I took this query blurb and used this on a self-published book, would it hold up?

We know there’s a time for creativity when you’re selling and there’s  a time for sticking to the rules. Even with contemporary music, over all the years, we still have a verse and a chorus. And dissonance, while some people don’t mind it, we still prefer the sound of music that is harmonious – in general. So with a blurb, I guess the creativity can be included with your voice, but you can’t add this to sacrifice character, conflict and consequence – in a query.

So when you pick up a book, do you read the blurb, and if so, what is it about a blurb that pulls you in? I have to say, most times I’m halfway through a book before I even look at a blurb; my reads come from recommendations.

But when you do look at a blurb, you expect it to start like this:

Like anyone, Nancy puts her pants on one leg a time. That is, until she wakes up and finds out she has 60 legs, and the only way she’ll make it to school on time is by doubling her efforts.

So there must be a reason a blurb follows a pattern. But how important is it these days? And when you are in a book store, is it the blurb you rush to, or the first few pages?

 

 

 

 

 

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Pitch this! My query research

I prefer for my blogs to be article in quality, but I have so much to say I have to cut to the chase. No opening, no pictures, just the facts. Well, the maybes.

I thought there was a standard with queries – a formula that I could follow that was adopted universally. I am a woman of rules and black and white lines that cannot be crossed. I need a framework to work with before the only frame I’m associated with is one of the Zimmer variety. I understand there are  hard and fast dos and don’ts with querying – and I’m glad there is at least that, because it means I can discard some avenues. Like with grammar. You can play around with whether you use the oxford comma – as long as you are consistent – but there is no question whether someone’s name earns a capital.

I have my head around the opening line, the researching of agents so that you can personalise  the query, the need to mention word count and genre, what you should and shouldn’t include in your bio. These always seem pretty clear. Although when I read things like: your opening sentence should be one line – just add this, this, this, and oh, this.

Where the most work lies for me is the pitch. Which part is the pitch? The whole thing? The logline? The hook? The 1-3 sentences that sums up my book? The opening sentence? ( Is this where my logline goes????) The blurb-like synopsis that follows my logline?

So, I have come across the following summaries:

A logline – one sentence ( although someone did mention two sentences..which confused me)

In my original logline, I reveal the whole concept of the book. Should I hold back and make it more general? Will they read this and then say, well I don’t need to bother being hooked now because you just served me the bait on a bed of seaweed, accompanied with a glass of brine?

This is something you can tell your friends, right? When they ask that really personal question, ” What is your book about?”

If I told them my original logline – the one I would pitch to agents –  there would be no suspense for them in the first quarter of the book.

Does that mean I don’t use this as my logline?

So I can make it general: Glory, an urban fantasy of 74000 words,  is the story of a girl who is forced to accept her role in a supernatural life when she discovers she has no control over her emotions uncovering evil.

That’s pretty general, but I can tell people that and they know the type of book it would be.

I can reveal more – but it gives the whole mystery away…..Not telling!

A 140 character or less pitch

Twitter, I’m guessing?   Now I get it. So glad I am nutting this out with my post!

I’ll put this one on the back-burner.

A one to three sentence summary

When I tried this, I still ended up revealing the concept of the book that is a mystery up until 25%. It’s certainly not what I would show a reader. I have yet to compile this one. I still don’t know if you reveal everything here. I’m losing it!

A blurb-like summary.

Is this synonymous with  the 1-3 sentence summary? I have seen mention of three to ten sentences here…

This, I understand. They say blurb and I know that this is what a reader will see. But I have seen queries where they don’t use language like I would see on the back of a book. ie they are really abrupt and to the point.

Like this: John wakes up to find his wife dead. But she isn’t dead, she’s just sleeping. Thankfully, he has the cure for that and kills her. When he takes her body to add to the rest, he notices that his favourite one is missing. He didn’t even tell Max about that one. How did he know where this one was hidden? John will not rest until Max has returned the body to it’s rightful place, but will Max hand it over when he finally has the only thing John has ever wanted?

That’s not my book lol That’s not any book – thank God! But it doesn’t sound blurby to me.

Blurbs to me are like:

Mae never thought there was anything strange about the three Sinclair brothers living across the street while growing up. Her crush on Gage Sinclair was normal teenager behaviour – even if he happened to be the middle child – but when Gage returns after a four-year disappearance acting cold and distant, Mae will learn there is nothing coincidental about their childhood association.

When Mae’s emotions begin to spike to uncontrollable levels, she realises she has bigger problems than Gage’s indifference. And losing consciousness after barrelling towards a stranger on auto pilot, sensing evil, only adds to her concerns. Gage is involved. He must be, because it’s only this incident that peaks his interest in her again.

As Mae struggles to makes sense of her emotions and the role she is forced to  play in a secret life of murder, she will have to decide if working closely with Gage will protect her from danger, or whether Gage is the very danger she should be seeking protection from.

This is mine. I worry it’s too general, too mysterious.

A 300 word synopsis

This is where I was getting my wires crossed a few months back. I thought this was the pitch in a query, where you held back enough to entice the agent. I think that if a synopsis is requested for this amount of words, it includes the whole plot, but is to the point, including main characters and main story – no sub-plots.

A detailed 1-2 page synopsis

This one is fine. Probably requested after interest has been shown with your query. More detailed than 300 word synopsis. One agent in Austalia mentioned 300-1000 words.

So you can see why I was confused a few months back with regards to what goes into what and what is revealed.

 

I think that what I will do is something like this in terms of structure.

Dear [full agent name]:

Paragraph one: Opening sentence – showing research of agent and why I’m approaching them

                             Logline – including word length and genre.

                             Maybe intended audience and writing style here.

Paragraph two: Blurb-like summary

Paragraph three: Bio

Thank for time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Me!

Please jump on board if you see I’m off track somewhere 🙂