Blurbs

Blurbs

I — am not a fan of writing blurbs.

Mostly because I don’t feel I’m good at it, and I put it off to the last minute, and then it moves from a task to a TASK and isn’t fun.

But I discovered something during the editing process for Dog Days March that’s making me try to re-frame how I think about, and tackle writing blurbs. As I sat down and picked the story apart for what to include in the blurb, some themes popped out at me that I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to in the writing process. I’m not at the point as a writer where I consciously think about all those little threads under the surface, so going through like that pointed some things out to me that I hadn’t noticed before. I was able to tweak the manuscript a little bit to pluck them a little closer to the surface, but we were really past the point where a full blown re-edit was possible.

So now, I’m trying to include writing the blurb as part of my writing process. Because, at least for me, narrowing the story down to those succinct lines needed to sell the book helps hone the focus in on what’s really important in the story, which I can then take back into the next round of edits. Am I great at it yet? No, but everything is a process, and I’m learning and hopefully improving with each story I put out.

So, to that end, I’ve put together a “blurb reference” for myself, and I’m gonna share it with you. Think of it as an early Christmas present.

Torquere Press has a two-line blurb, a marketing blurb (which varies based on length of work) and the excerpt. Here’s the advice Elizabeth L. Brooks, my editor for Dog Days March and Time for Christmas, had to say on that combo:

“Think of them like building blocks: the 2-line blurb should basically be a Twitter teaser to get someone to click through and read the regular blurb; the regular blurb (think back-of-the-book) should be interesting and intriguing enough to get them to read the excerpt, and the excerpt should capture the voice of the story well enough to make the reader really want to know what happens on the next page.”

That sequence made a lot of sense to me, and helped me both with the blurbs for Dog Days and Time.

A resource I recently found thanks to the DSP authors list (after the Time for Christmas marketing was done, of course) is the post “A Blurb is NOT a Burp!” from the fantabulous Amy Lane. She breaks the process down into the technical bits, the pieces that should be there and why, coming at it from the perspective of a woman with a Masters in Literature. It may not be for everyone, but it resonated with me, and is permanently bookmarked.

Another resource I’ve had on the back burner for a while are two posts from Jordan Castillo Price’s Packing Heat podcast: Quickie 19 and Episode 40. (Fair warning, these links may break.) The Quickie 19 was helpful as it went through the process of taking a wordy, bad blurb and hacking away at it until it was a finely crafted thing, as carefully edited as the rest of the writing.

Here’s two other resources I’ve found useful:

Writing a Synopsis from the Ground Up – Dee-Ann Latona LeBlanc: Focus is synopsis writing, but on the way to the synopsis, get some potential blurbs written.

Hooking Readers – Power of a Great Book Blurb – Mark Edwards: This takes it the other way, starting at the synopsis and working down to a blurb. Sometimes this way is easier for me than the previous.

So, what do you think about blurb writing? Is it easy? Is it hard? Is it part of your process or something you do at the end? Do you have blurb writing references you find useful? Let me know!

And don’t forget, the Outserve Charity Sips, including Dog Days March, are still available from Torquere Press. Individually or as a group, they make great stocking stuffers! Who wouldn’t want a sexy man or woman in uniform under their tree?