Tag Archives: how to write the back blurb

#WritingTips Writing The Back Blurb

11 Jan

 Every Monday I take a popular post from the past, and I rewrite it with new information and approaches. Today, we’re talking about the dreaded back blurb. Why do we dread the back blurb? Well, because it can be the making or breaking point for the reader. That little blurb on the back can be the difference between a reader putting your book back on the shelf or taking your book to the counter to buy it. But there’s no reason to fret. There are plenty of ways to tackle this scenario, and today, I’m sharing one method. I’ll be using my latest novels in Bad Bloods as an example, but you can also check out the original post for a totally different way to try this out by clicking here.

1. Start with a 35-Word Synopsis

This is actually a method many use to tackle query letters, but I love this piece of advice. Summarizing your book into 35 words forces you to focus on the essentials. Look at it like writing an elevator pitch. In this case, you have a pretty direct formula: Character + setting + conflict + stakes. Stakes are the most important, and by far, the most forgotten one. Think about what your character has to lose. What happens if they decide not to save the world? Why should we care about those repercussions? While you’re writing this, you might start with a one-page synopsis or other notes. Keep those! They will help in part two. But, for now, read my example below. If you’re feeling discouraged, you might notice that I summed up TWO books in 35 words or less. In fact, those two books equal 136,000 words, and I only used 34 words. It can be done.

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

2. Expand. Be Catchy. Target an Audience. 

See? I told you that you’d need all those notes as you were trying to cut down to 35 words. Now, you get to use those notes again. (But, Shannon, why did you have us cut it down if we were only going to use it anyway? Because…It focused your work.) So, now that you’re focused on the main concepts, you can emphasize main themes. Be sure to focus on the right genre for the right audience. You don’t want to mention love if love is barely in it. You’ll only attract romance readers then, and they won’t be too happy when they realize they’ve been tricked. This means staying true to your work. Don’t try to force yourself into the latest trend. Be honest. Once you do that, you can show those little details that perfect your voice. Example? I’m going to use the expanded version of Bad Bloods, part one, November Rain. Instead of city, I’m going to name that city. I knew I wanted to bring Daniel into the Bad Bloods excerpt, because he literally tells half the book. I also wanted to bring attention to the romance side and emphasize the political part of the story. Do not forget your stakes!

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.

3. Edit. Get Opinions. Edit Again.

Okay. So you have a draft, or maybe you even have three drafts. It’s time to run it by a few people. If you can, try to have someone who has read your book read the synopsis to see if they believe that it what you should focus on. Try to have people who’ve never read your book review it. Have them tell you what they think the book is about. Now, edit. And have someone review it again. Edit again. But once you get a great one, stick with it. You can rewrite it a million times. Eventually, you have to choose. Once you have that, you can work on other wonderful marketing tools. Know Cassandra Clare? Well, freakin’ email her and ask her if she’d been willing to give you a review quote. (But, seriously, that would go on the front of the book.) Look at the back covers of your favorite books, find their catch phrases, figure one out for your book, place it somewhere bold. Since I’m not yet at this stage in the Bad Bloods process, I’ll refer to The Timely Death Trilogy instead. The back cover of the first book has a catch phrase (Two destinies. One death.), and it has a direct quote from the story (“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates.”). Then, the blurb took place. Review quotes were placed beneath it. Your best bet is to look at the back of other books and mimic what you find successful.

Now publish.

~SAT

Book Haul from Episode 1 of Author in a Coffee Shop

Book Haul from Episode 1 of Author in a Coffee Shop

I’m starting a new series called “Author in a Coffee Shop.” Episode 1 happened this past Friday.
If you’re wondering what Author in the Coffee Shop is, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while…you know…I people watch…for inspiration.
Follow me on Twitter via @AuthorSAT next Friday at 7 p.m. CDT for the next episode.

Here’s a sample if you missed out:

I hope to see you this upcoming Friday on Twitter!

In other news… you can now add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November SnowI’m also considering leading up to the July releases with short stories of each character joining the “flocks.” A flock is a group of 12 bad bloods that have come together to survive on the streets. In Bad Bloods, there are four flocks, one for each cardinal direction of the city, but only two flocks are left: The Southern and the Northern Flock. Some stories would purposely be left out, but I have six written. If this is something you’d think you’d be interested in reading, let me know! I would start sharing them at the end of February.

Speaking of February, on February 13, I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas. (More info to come.) I’d love to see you at Bradley Fair!

Also, my awesome publisher is giving away a Kindle Fire right here.

Giveaway-image

Starting your 2016 Reading Challenge? Minutes Before Sunset, book 1  in The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE: (You could read it on your brand-new Kindle Fire.)

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Writing the Back Blurb

8 Nov

Announcements: 

The Messy Owl reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “A thrilling and entangling plot, full of suspense and action.” Read the entire review here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Writing the Back Blurb

As I near the release date of Death Before Daylight, I remember more topics that I can talk about due to the tasks I must complete beforehand. Writing the back blurb is one of these tasks. Oh, yes. The dreaded back blurb. Everyone knows about the summary of text on the back of the book that convinces readers, “Yes. You want this book.” The scariest part relies on the fact that the summary is exactly that – something that could make it or break it for a reader.

The pressure.

So, I’m going to share how I write the back blurb by using Minutes Before Sunset as an example. First, I want to clarify that this is how I write one, and it may not be a method everyone should use. It also might come across as more complicated than it actually is, but that’s because I am breaking it down into five steps, even though – in reality – it feels like one when I’m writing the back blurb. I hope it helps those who are struggling with writing one!

1. Try to write a query letter

A query letter is even worse, right? But I like to start there because it forces me to summarize the novel in one or three sentences. Those sentences end up summarizing everything, but – more importantly – it forces me to get to the bottom of the message, the theme, and the genre. This allows me to focus on those things in the future. Set aside until step 3. (This is actually where I get my “Two destinies. One death.”)

2. Write a one-page synopsis

Oh, how painful this is. (Just kidding.) This is where I write whatever I want to. I explain the novel for as long as I like, and when I’m done, I slowly start to cut smaller parts out until I get it down to one page. Set aside until step 3.

3. Combine Step 1 and 2

This is where I combine everything. Look at the first two sentences you came up with and compare it to the synopsis. What matters the most? What catches your eye the most? What correlates and what doesn’t? Sure, it would be great to mention your favorite side character’s importance, but do they add to the theme more than the protagonist? That first step really helps me make the cuts I didn’t want to make in step 2. (This is where I get most of the information that will be found in the middle.)

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

4. Make it catchy

Once you get the information that you want, twist the sentences around. Think of the infamous Don LaFontaine’s “In a world” movie trailer voice. Or listen to epic music while you write it. Make it fit! Make it intense! Don’t hold back…until you step away for a day. I would warn against making it too epic – because that’s when many create a back blurb that is too abstract to understand – but keep some intensity while also creating some grounding for the reader to get. Step away for a day. Come back. Read it again. Make sure it sets up the reader’s expectations in the right place. For instance, you don’t want to mention love in the synopsis if love is barely in the book at all. That will only cause romance readers to pick it up, and they probably won’t be too happy with your novel if they expected something that ended up not being there. (This is where I add the quote. I add the quote at this point because it becomes my “dun dun dun” but it also helps me focus on the turning point of a plot – the main conflict, per se, and I like to set up the reader to know that for the trilogy.)

5. Edit. Get opinions. Edit again. But decide on it.

Just like a manuscript, get someone’s opinion about your blurb. Edit, and rewrite it, but don’t obsess forever about it. Eventually, you have to decide on something and turn it in. Talking to others might help you feel more confident about the back blurb. I would even go so far as suggesting getting an opinion from someone who had read the book and someone who knows nothing about the book. (This is also where I add the review quotes since I finalize the blurb.)

It’s over! You have your back blurb, and you’re ready to share it with the world. The only other thing I would mention is this: for series, I would suggest remaining consistent. Seconds Before Sunrise has the same parts that Minutes Before Sunset does – the slogan, the quote, the summary, and the review quote. Death Before Daylight will as well…which reminds me. If you want an ARC of Death Before Daylight for review, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I will share your review right here and on my other websites as well!

And best of luck with your back blurb writing,

~SAT

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