Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Part Four: Blurbs for books in a series. Blurb writing 101 for self published authors.

If you found writing blurbs for your first book to be difficult.  Wait until you get to the sequel.  The blurb for your sequel has to do the same job as the first blurb, but it also has to do more and has more restrictions on what to avoid.  The blurb still has to do it's job by convincing people to click the buy now button.  But it pulls double duty because if it's a new customer, this blurb has to convince them to find and buy the first book as well.

Next you have to remind existing customers what was going on, but you can't spoil book one's story in the process.  You have to balance leaning on the events of the earlier book and focus on the new books story.

In the sidebar to the left, I have three fairly attractive covers.  I have no control over what cover a potential customer may come across first, or which one they my decide to click on for the first time.  It may even take all three covers viewed at various times before someone clicks one.  If a new customer's first click is not on book one.  The blurb can't be too confusing for them to follow.  It can't spoil earlier books.  It still has to engage and hook them to where they want to seek out book one.  This is probably the hardest juggling of words a self-published author will have to write.

Lets take a look at my second Sky Mage novel.  Again, I am going to include the cover because I strongly believe that every part of your book needs to fit and work with each other part.

Branded as an outlaw for his daring rescue of the aerial warrior Angela, Kail finds a new home for his magic abilities in a gearworks mining town. There people are willing to help Kail and his group as they too hold no love for General Therion’s advancing airship armada.

As devastating losses mount, the Eternal Gateway reappears, and the fight for its control is rekindled. Kail and his allies know the Gateway cannot fall into Therion’s hands if they are to prevent a dark future foretold in prophecy. With little resources left, word of a possible key to victory reaches Kail and Angela, but it risks their best chance to seize the Gateway on the temperament of one volatile mage and a man immune to magic.

Through time the Gateway returns a burned and unforgettable face; Xavier Ross has the knowledge of what is to come and lashes out at Kail and Angela for choices they have yet to make. He who controls the Gateway controls time, even death, and Xavier knows at the end of time lies the beginning of vengeance.

I opted for a character-conflict-conflict format for my sequel.  In the first paragraph I re-introduce Kail, Angela, and Therion.  Unlike the first blurb, I don't need a sweeping grand intro.  This is how I lean upon book one.  For new customers, I still have interesting and unique identifiers tied to each character.  Aerial warrior Angela, Kail finds a home for his magic and the obvious villain, Genreal Therion.

The second and third paragraph is all conflict.  This is where you really need to shine for the new customers who haven't read the earlier books.  Is what you present here going to be interesting enough to get them to find book one?  For return customers, is this going to convince them to part with more of their money?

Let's pick apart this blurb.  Cover and title.  The only change in the title is the word Ember.  The rest is this guy with fire and he's got some clear attitude.  I have the clockwork and gears at the bottom for the steampunk setting.  Remember, the cover is your only visual marketing tool for your book.  Use it.

The very first word of this blurb is branded.  This is my fire word to match the fire word in the title: Embers.  There is also fire on the cover so I am leaning on that visual as well.  Gearworks mining town: setting and also draws on the gears in the cover.  Airship Armada: more setting and genera definition.  Gears, clocks and airships.  We have the Steampunk nailed down.  If you read the first paragraph again.  It's a pretty simple paragraph, but it's a very busy paragraph with it's message.

The second paragraph, rekindled is my fire word for the title and cover.  Again leaning on the cover.  I also remind existing customers about the time travel gimmick that is the Gateway.  I also show what the gateway can do in this blurb and it all leans on the title as well: of Time.

This is also an important paragraph because it has all the legwork to convince new customers to find book one.  I feel that I did an acceptable job here with explaining the time traveling gateway. I present the stakes and what's on the line and I have an interesting twist with foreshadowing a mage fight and a guy who is immune to magic.

In the last paragraph, if you haven't picked out the trend is the word: burned.  Xavier is also the character portrayed on the cover.  In my earlier post I talked about starting the blurb with Angela because she was on the cover over Kail.  Honestly, there just isn't a way for me to do that with book two.  However, when the customer finishes reading the blurb, they get everything they see on the cover.  I feel this pulls together well.  With this also not being the first book, you get a little more wiggle room on your blurb.  The Embers cover was almost used for book one.  It was in a dead heat with the one I used based upon customer feedback.  In the end, as good as it is, it just wouldn't work as the cover for book one.

As with book one's blurb.  This blurb is laced with theme, plot, and setting.  Your cover, title and blurb should be able to let the customer know exactly what they are going to get.  In a later blog post, I will go over some of the do's and don'ts of blurb writing.  One of the don'ts is listing what your book is by talking directly to the customer.

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