Which Blurb Should I Choose?

Okay, I need some feedback on this one. I have written three different blurbs for the back cover of my book, Acceptance. Each one is completely accurate, yet they convey very different feelings.

The Romantic Angle

This is from my query letter. Again, it’s accurate, but I think it makes the book sound like a teen romance (a la Twilight) when it’s not. I’ve had adult women and a man read the book, and they’ve all liked it; it’s not sickeningly cheesy.

Kalyn Reid is a different kind of debutante. On her sixteenth birthday she is publicly presented to her family, friends and neighbors as an adult and is given a pearl necklace to mark the occasion. Then she is bitten by a vampire.

Thus Kalyn enters adulthood as a Yaechahre—a group of humans who have served vampires for over 2,500 years.

In the days following her Acceptance, Kalyn thinks her only problem in life is how to maintain her dignity around her vampire mentor, Anselm. She has a desperate crush on him, which often leaves her bumbling like a fool. He sweetly smoothes over the awkward moments, but makes it clear that things are “just business” between them.

But in the blink of an eye, Kalyn’s entire world is engulfed in flames as her father, mother, and group leader die in rapid succession—murdered by a strange new breed of vampire. She, Anselm, and his brother, Micah, suddenly become involved in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse as they try to find the murderer before he finds them.

Thrown together in a desperate struggle for survival, Anselm’s resolve to keep business separate from pleasure begins to crumble, and Kalyn finds herself closer than ever to realizing her dreams. But as she watches him execute their enemies with medieval ruthlessness, she finds herself wondering, “Do I really want him?”

The Coming-of-Age Angle

Coming-of-age is also a part of the plot, but I think this sounds like a teen book and won’t attract adult readers.

Kalyn Reid is a different kind of debutante. On her sixteenth birthday, she is formally presented to her family, friends, and neighbors as an adult, and she’s given a pearl necklace to mark the occasion. Then she is bitten by a vampire.

Thus Kalyn enters adulthood as a Yaechahre—a group of humans who have served vampires for countless generations.

But what should have been a gentle transition into adulthood unexpectedly turns into a crash course in survival as a strange new breed of vampire begins murdering people in Kalyn’s group. Suddenly Kalyn finds herself orphaned and on the run—caught up in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse as the group’s survivors try to find the murderer before he finds them.

And as she watches her vampire mentor execute their enemies with medieval ruthlessness, her first test of character isn’t how she faces death, but how she accepts the people who will kill to keep her alive.

The Good vs. Evil Angle

This description makes no mention of romance or Kalyn’s age, which I think would make it more attractive to adults. I also deemphasize Kalyn’s role, which I think makes it more attractive to men. This is closer to the main plot of the book, and puts a bit more emphasis on the other characters. While Kalyn is the main character, Anselm and Micah figure very prominently–to the point that I think of them as secondary main characters. They’re just too prominent and we know too much about them for them to be true secondary characters.

The one drawback is that this blurb seems a little too general. And it’s not as strong a piece of writing as the two previous ones (although I did create it in a bit of a hurry; I could spend more time with it and perhaps improve it).

Kalyn Reid comes from a long line of humans—ninety-six generations, to be exact—who have spent their lives serving vampires. And for the past two thousand years, it’s been a peaceful occupation. But a strange new type of vampire has appeared, and the report from a defector is that the Others are preparing for something… but what?

The answer is delivered suddenly, as the humans and vampires in Kalyn’s group are murdered or kidnapped in rapid succession. But when the survivors turn to their own for sanctuary, they find their brethren every bit as dangerous as the killer hunting them.

Betrayed and outnumbered, the group’s survival requires a level of loyalty and self-sacrifice that hasn’t been seen for more than a generation.

So, which blurb makes you want to read the book the most, and if it’s the third one, what changes might you make to it to make it sound better?


3 comments on “Which Blurb Should I Choose?

  1. Wallace says:

    The first blurb is too long I think. You really want to sum up the essence of your story in no more than one or two paragraphs. If I was thumbing thru a stack of books and reading the blurbs, I wouldn’t spend more than a few seconds to read the first paragraph to see if it catches my fancy. If it does, I might read a second or third paragraph, but most likely I’d just skip to the inside cover to read a pertinent excerpt from the book. If I still liked the book, then I’d turn to the first page to read a little of the story itself to see how well it’s written and if it interests me.

    If it passes the title, blurb, excerpt, and reading test, then I’d probably buy it. If it fails any of the four, then I’d probably pass. But, and this sounds really stupid, it’s usually the cover picture that catches the eye. A good cover picture can get someone to pick up the book and look at it, a bad cover picture usually just gets passed by. Of course you can’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s usually the cover that attracts enough attention to get the book judged at all. I don’t know how many fantasy books I bought in my youth just because the book had a Frank Frazetta cover that made me pick the book up and look it over.

    The second blurb also suffers from the same intro the first one does, and that is it starts out about a 16 year old debutante. Right off the bat that makes me think it’s either a romance or a children’s book. This blurb is a little shorter, but it doesn’t grab my attention because I’ve already dismissed it as something I’m not interested in. I’d most likely just put it back on the rack after reading the first paragraph.

    The third blurb is the best of the bunch. It’s shorter, the first paragraph ends with a question that makes me want to read the next paragraph, and it makes no mention of 16 year old debutantes. It tells me enough to get me interested but nothing that might make me pre-judge the category of the book as anything other than a vampire book.

    Of course, if I don’t like vampire books, I’d just put it back, but that is the minimal amount of information the writer has to tell the potential reader. The blurb tells the potential reader it’s a vampire book, it’s about a conflict between vampires, and it’s going to be told from the viewpoint of one of the vampire groups.

    That’s enough to get me interested. I’d then turn to the inside cover to read the pertinent excerpt that shows some essential scene from the early part of the book. Which I guess will be the next item on your agenda of building your book cover.

    • keripeardon says:

      One thing about having a longer blurb is there is a lot of real estate on the back of my book. If it was a mass-market paperback, the first two blurbs would be way too much information, but this is a larger, trade paperback, so there’s a lot of room. And unlike traditionally-published authors, I don’t have reviewers to quote or publisher logos to take up part of that space. So there is a need to strike a balance between so long it’s not interesting and so short it makes the back of my book look sad and unloved.

      There won’t be any excerpt or quote on the inside of the book. That doesn’t seem to be typical of trade paperbacks and I don’t have that option with my printer anyways.

      However, as I said, I do have plenty of real estate on the back, and it’s not uncommon to put some sort of quote from the book there. (I have one there now, but it may not be what I need.)

      Here are some options from the most exciting parts of the book:

      “Take me for Megan.”
      “How noble to sacrifice yourself for your friend,” von Gault said with derision.
      “Kalyn,” Marie cried, “he’s lying! Leave! I order you….” Kalyn heard a hard thump and a soft moan.
      Of course she knew he would lie; that wasn’t the point. She just wanted to burn up all the time she could. Every second von Gault wasn’t killing someone was a second they got closer to being rescued.

      “I can see you’re afraid,” von Gault said, his accented voice once again soft–as sexy as his smile and just as frightening. “And yet,” he continued, “you aren’t; you still have hope. That makes you more dangerous, because you will try and beat me. But at the same time, it’s so much more satisfying to break you.”
      Kalyn’s eyes narrowed. “You can’t break me. You can hurt me. You can probably even make me cry. But you won’t break me.”
      He chuckled. “No, you won’t break easily. But everyone has a soft spot. I’ll find yours.”

      Kalyn saw the porch light glint off the large silver blade before Anselm fell into it.
      She screamed.
      Anselm dropped to his knees and Jonas backed away, a triumphant smile on his face. The night all around them seemed perfectly silent, as if all the insects—and even the air itself—were still and listening.
      Anselm slowly looked up at Jonas, his face angry and defiant. His voice carried in the stillness. “It’ll take more than that to kill me.”

      “How dare you refuse me,” Jonas growled in her ear.
      He clamped his hand over her mouth, then bit into her neck.
      It felt as if he had stabbed her with two hot knives. She tried to cry out, but his hand muffled her screams—his fingers digging in, bruising her face.
      Her blood pulsed out with a violent force, and he sucked hard on the wound–every motion of his mouth causing it to burn worse. She could feel some of her blood trickling hot and sticky down her neck and between her breasts.
      After what felt like an eternity, he pulled away and she collapsed to the floor, cold and shaking.
      He pushed her out of the way with his foot. “Don’t forget who owns you.”

      Micah handed him a shotgun. “I have some rifled slugs for the Benelli; that’ll give you fifty to seventy yards. Or would you rather have these?” He held up a shell.
      “What’s that?”
      “Chain shot: two .58 caliber balls with a little piece of steel cable attaching them.”
      “Good God, Micah. Where’d you get that?”
      “I have my sources.”
      “Is it even legal?”
      “At the moment, in this state, yes. But does it matter?”
      Anselm thought about it. “No,” he finally said.

      Kalyn closed her eyes, tears squeezing out and running down her cheeks. Von Gault was so close, he must have felt their wetness. He pulled back a little and looked at her. “Have I made you cry so easily, my little Yaechahre?”
      Kalyn opened her eyes and looked at him. “I am not crying,” she said through gritted teeth.
      He slowly smiled at her, and it was almost pleasant. “You know, I have to admit I rather admire you. You are stupidly hung up on your honor, but you don’t lack courage.”

      Kalyn looked at von Gault. “Yes, I’ve bled for Ciaran before.”
      “Why?” he asked, seeming genuinely curious.
      “Because he’s my friend. He can have my blood any time he wants; you can only have it when you threaten me,” she said haughtily.
      Something hit Kalyn on the side of the head with such force, she fell out of her chair. She landed on her back, her vision obscured by black dots. It took her a moment to focus on von Gault’s hard blue eyes, just inches away from hers.
      “I can have your blood anytime I want it,” he hissed. “And anything else I want, too,” he said, his voice dropping to a whisper. He leaned in, his lips almost touching hers.
      Kalyn turned her head away from him, trembling with fear.
      “Ah,” he said ever so softly, “I have found something you are truly afraid of, haven’t I? You are used to giving blood, but your body….” He softly kissed her on the lips.
      Kalyn closed her eyes. Dear God, Anselm, where are you?

  2. Wallace says:

    I may have mis-stated myself. When I said the inside of the front cover, I didn’t mean the actual back of the cover, but the front of the first paper page in the book. There is almost always some kind of printing there and that’s where I meant I read the exciting excerpt.

    I have a lot of trade paperbacks, so I just did a quick check to see what’s on the first page of the book. Most of the time it’s just the title reprinted, but that’s not the only case. Several of the books used the first page to start listing reviews of the book, many of which then continued on to the back of the front page and even on to other pages. This, tho, was for big budget books that were well reviewed.

    Some of the books used the first page to give a brief biography of the writer. This seemed the case when the writer was mostly well know and his name might be helpful in selling the book, especially if he was well know for some field other than writing novels.

    Some of the trade paperbacks did list interesting excerpts of the novel on the first page, just like a mass market paperback or on the inside dust cover of a hardback book. There seems to be no hard and fast rule as to what goes on the first page, tho the majority of them just relisted the books title.

    As to the back of your book, you can choose, within reason, various font sizes to take up more or less of the back covers real estate, but I do see your point. One thing you can do on the back cover is list a brief biography of yourself, listing things the reader might find helpful in deciding to buy your book.

    You can list reviews of your book, even if you just list the initials of your friends that read it and wrote a review for you. The problem, of course, is that if they don’t have some recognized organization they belong to, or are not well know authors in their own right, the review is fairly meaningless. But it does take up space and you might see if you can get some published author to read and review your book. If the review signature just says: XXXX XXX, author of YYYYYYY, at least it seems that somebody of some importance likes your book.

    If you’re not to pickey about attributions, you can get one or more of your fellow unpublished authors to read and review your book and then list them and their unpublished book as the review signature. Who knows, if the reader likes your book, they might be moved to buy their book too.

    As to your excerpts, I liked the fourth one the best, the one that starts, “How dare you…”. My next favorite was the last that starts, “Kalyn looked at von….”. My third favorite was the fifth one that starts, “Micah handed him a shotgun…”. The reason why was my first and second choices gave the hint of sexual tension between the two characters and also clearly showed the vampire nature of the book. Unless you’re writing for children, sexuality sells books, especially damsels in distesss being menanced by ruthless vampires.

    The third excerpt I liked because it was of a manly action nature presaging an imminent fight. Action is also a good seller of books, especially if the action scenes are well written with lots of description and detail. The only problem with that excerpt was that it made no mention of vampires. That might be a good thing if you wanted to reassure the reader that the book wasn’t all just vampires run amuck biting people, but that it had honest to goodness action scenes in it as well.

    Also, there is no rule that says you can only have one excerpt. If you’ve got room, you can certainly put two excerpts on thre back cover, or one on the back cover and a different excerpt highlighting a different aspect of the book on the first page of the book. As an example, put my first choice on the back cover and put my third choice on the first page.

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