Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Part Five: More blurbs in a series. Blurb writing 101 for self published authors.

The further you get into a series, the more the recommendations of how to write a blurb start to fall apart.  When your at book seven of Harry Potter, do we still need to be reminded that Harry is a wizard and there is a bad guy out to get him?  The answer is a resounding yes you do.  Unfortunately this is one of the areas where traditional publishing fails to mentor us as self-published authors.  Traditionally if the earlier books don't sell well, you don't get sequels.  The business model is also different here.  Publishers at this point are not relying on the blurb to sell the book.  They now rely on the series and author's name to carry the book.  Unfortunately the reality is that most self-published authors will never get to this stage.  Go to your bookshelf or to Amazon and look at the traditionally published books that are more than a couple of books deep in the series.

Back of Twilight:Breaking Dawn.  No blurb at all.  Same with a Robert Jordan Wheel of Time book.  No blurb at all.  A Dan Brown book?  No blurb, just a back jacket filled with zingy one liners by people paid to endorse the book.  It just boggles my mind that they do this.  It's so short sighted that they can't write a blurb for a book that might find a new reader twenty years after it was written who has no idea who the author is.  The few series books that still have a blurb all suffer from lazy writing.  I plan on getting to that in the do's and don'ts post.

I'm going to pick on my own blurb again for this.

Kail’s magic and Angela’s ancient weapon skills are all that stand against General Therion’s airships bearing down on Silverton.  Therion begins to force his way through time, and his power and control get stronger with each intrusion through the Gateway.  Its secrets come at a price as earthquakes and rips in time tear across the world.

Raised in a dark future, Alyssa and her wisp use the Gateway to cheat a one way trip back in time.  All futures have been gambled in a desperate attempt to seize control from Therion, but one man, refusing to honor his promise of allegiance, chooses to seek retribution instead.  Alyssa is forced to ask for help from those she was told to avoid at all costs, her parents: Kail and Angela.

Witnessing the burned man murder again, Camden vows to hunt down and put an end to Xavier Ross.  As Camden begins to piece together who Xavier really is, he finds out just how unspeakable the man has become.  Following the trail to the southern jungles, it becomes clear where Xavier is headed, and both men know that it will all begin, and it will all end with the Gateway.

This one was really hard for me to write.  It's the last book of this set.  There are lots of characters and lots of story lines that get wrapped up.  I can't spoil any of the series and I have to catch new customers at the same time.  But now I have to convince them to buy not just this book, but all the ones before it.  With that, you have to set your own internal expectations correctly.

I opted for three sets of character-conflict paragraphs.  I remind existing readers that Kail is a mage.  Angela has the fighting skills and she's the one from back in time with the word: ancient.  Let's not forget evil General Therion doing evil things.  Even if you haven't read anything else, you can still figure out what the gateway does and why it's central to the story.  For an opening paragraph for a sequel, I feel this nails it pretty good.

Second paragraph, I lean on my cover for help.  This is paragraph has the cover characters on it.  Its an extremely busy paragraph as well.  Almost every character is in this paragraph, the gateway, conflict, themes, plot, setting, the works.

I spent a lot of time on this blurb.  Several revisions, complete rewrites, you name it, I probably tried it with this blurb.  If this was a blurb for a stand alone or first book,  I would recommend the author to scrap it.  But were not on book one,  this is book three and the final book of a series, so we get a bit of a pass.

In the final paragraph, I have a new character, Camden who has his primary conflict with Xavier.  Several times I was advised to cut this out of the blurb all together.  Ultimately it's up to you as the author to decide what you want to include in the blurb or not.  I decided to leave Camden in because a third of the book is Camden hunting down Xavier.  This is where the reader gets to put all the pieces together.  I had to put it in there.

Each one of these paragraphs in their own way could stand for a blurb.  Is this the best way for a sequel blurb?  Honestly I don't know, but I believe it's alright here.  There is a saying out there: "The worst a good blurb can do is nothing, but a bad one will cost you sales."  I don't believe that this blurb hurts my sales.  The other people and authors I worked with during this time also didn't know.  The available experience on a deep in series book and final book in a series for blurb writing is pretty sparse.  It's also one of the main reasons I chose to blog about it.

Again, I have keywords in the blurb that reference to the imagery of the cover and words in the title.  There are characters in these active poses a customer is reading about.  The title is right there in their face, reinforcing what it is they are reading in the blurb.  I have setting, themes and plot in the blurb.  I'm honestly amazed at how much you can get in two-hundred words if you work at it.

I don't have any spoilers that ruin earlier books.  Some might say that having Alyssa show up spoils Kail and Angela getting together.  But I disagree on grounds that the story isn't about them having kids.  If you look at all three blurbs together it becomes pretty clear that the story revolves around the gateway time traveling device.  The attempt to control life and death.  The dream of getting a second chance, making a different choice.  Each of these themes is present in all three of my blurbs.

If you have read this far into my blurb writing series, odds are you were searching for blurb writing help.  Most self-published authors don't even think about the blurb until they are uploading their book to Amazon and the box labeled "description" is staring in their face.  If this series has accomplished anything I hope it's that you understand what the blurb's job is and why it's so important to put the time and effort into writing the best one you can.

If you need additional help with blurb writing.  I recommend joining the community in the writers cafe at KBoards.com

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