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Back Cover Blurbs (1 Viewer)

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Guest1

Member
Do people write their back cover blurb before the book is finished?

I have, and although my story isn't finished, I keep coming back to this blurb to make sure I am sticking to it.
Does it grab you? is it written correctly?
This is my first writing experience. How do other people do it?
This is where I started.


iLUMiNO is a new fantasy superhero story about warm-hearted hospital porter Aaron Abbey.
Something extraordinary and literally out of this world is about to happen to him. This is not TV, movies, or comics books, this is real life, and Aaron's world has just been turned upside down, literally.
Becoming the world’s first superhero gives Aaron the strength and courage to delve deep inside his own mind. Allowing himself to realise, accept and to become the person he really is.
A mid-life crisis? or a coming of age? Aaron would say "It's both".
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I like it!

The last line is great...a concise and original way to introduce your theme.

You could lose the "s" on comics.

I wrote my back cover blurb after being a few chapters into my novel. I also created a mock cover. It helped me to feel like I had a purpose, and to visualize the end game. I likely will rewrite it a number of times before I'm finished the book.
 

Guest1

Member
Thank you for replying Taylor, yes you are right, it gives me a purpose. I will probably re write mine many many times. But for now. Agreed also the s on comics should go - thank you.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
The back cover of your book offers less space than you might think; between graphics and the barcode it’s dang small. I usually keep mine to about 200 words.

if you publish on Amazon, the product description on your book page can be considerably longer. I suggest you write up a couple versions of different lengths.

Regarding when I write my blurbs, I start when I write up the outline. I revise it many times over the course of writing the book.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Do people write their back cover blurb before the book is finished?

I have, and although my story isn't finished, I keep coming back to this blurb to make sure I am sticking to it.
Does it grab you? is it written correctly?
This is my first writing experience. How do other people do it?
This is where I started.


iLUMiNO is a new fantasy superhero story about warm-hearted hospital porter Aaron Abbey.
Something extraordinary and literally out of this world is about to happen to him. This is not TV, movies, or comics books, this is real life, and Aaron's world has just been turned upside down, literally.
Becoming the world’s first superhero gives Aaron the strength and courage to delve deep inside his own mind. Allowing himself to realise, accept and to become the person he really is.
A mid-life crisis? or a coming of age? Aaron would say "It's both".

No, because a back cover blurb is not supposed to summarize the story (a synopsis does that) and is 100% a marketing tool, one with diminishing purpose as more and more sales are done online where reviews and stuff are more important than a snappy back cover. Blurbs aren't usually written by the author in traditional publishing. In self publishing they may be, but it's still a post-production thing for most.

Anyway, your blurb needs a lot of work. It reads more like a sales pitch, and not a tremendous one.

First, there are words in there that are without purpose (you don't need to put 'new fantasy superhero story', for instance because (1) It's obviously 'new', otherwise it would be plagiarism and (2) Superhero stories are by definition fantasy stories) and (3) You tell us he is a superhero later and do not need to tell us twice)

Second, there are things that are basically clichés at this point: "literally out of this world", "just been turned upside down, literally", "the strength and courage to delve deep inside his own mind". You and I both know that these have been used in MULTIPLE other books, movies, TV shows and seeing them in a blurb tells the agent, publisher or reader that you are not being sufficiently imaginative.

Third, there's way too many things that seem like loose ends and not in a good way. For instance, you have 'mid life crisis or coming of age? Aaron would say "It's both". All right, but what does that mean? You didn't tell us his age before now, so it's a question that does not logically follow, a question nobody would actually be asking based on what you have written up to that point. Besides, what does a mid life crisis have to do with becoming a superhero? I understand there probably IS a reason and you're not going to be giving us the answers in the blurb, that's totally fine, but these almost feel like lines that are being put together randomly with no link. I'm not sure if this character is a teenager or middle aged. I don't have a clue regarding his personality beyond that he is 'warm hearted'. I don't know.

What does it mean to say "Aaron's world has just been turned upside down, literally"? What's literal about it? Does he actually go upside down? If not, it's not 'literal', right? What does 'the strength and courage to delve deep inside his own mind' mean here? I did not get from 'warm-hearted hospital porter Aaron Abbey' that he had a problem with strength and courage or needed to delve anywhere. I'm sure he does, but again, it's random loose ends.

I hope this is well taken. I understand it's your first writing experience and I'm not trying to be harsh, but the thing is nobody who might read it in real life cares if it's your first writing experience or not.

The good part is, the story does actually sound potentially quite interesting. I like the idea of a 'warm hearted hospital porter' becoming a superhero: That's good. The story itself is possibly very good. But this blurb is, unfortunately, garbage and needs entirely reworked. I recommend not worrying about it right now, though. Finish the manuscript first.
 
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Guest1

Member
Hi, and thank you for your feedback. Very constructive thank you.

I'll just recapture some of your notes and delve if I may?

What changes would you make for it to be a tremendous sales pitch? (not a tremendous one? - If I am honest I feel like this comment was not constructive)

'new fantasy superhero story' This is a new story, new characters new shiny everything.
Superhero stories are by definition fantasy stories - yes and there are so many other sub genres and other types of fantasy (Fables, Fairy's, Urban, Fantasy Romance,) Do you mean i should just drop the word fantasy?
Literally out of this world - Yes he does leave this world.
Just been turned upside down literally - Yes he was. Thats why I wrote it, literally turned up side down.
The strength and courage to delve into his own mind, cliche or not, it's paramount to the story.
Mid life crisis or coming of age?
He's now in his mid 40's and is only now beginning to deal with things he should or could have dealt with when he was younger.


Appreciated the feed back thank you for taking the time, I will continue with my manuscript as you advise. Currently 40,000 words in and I don't feel like i have started yet.

If I feel brave enough to post some more of my work I will (maybe)
Until then Adios Amigos.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Hi, and thank you for your feedback. Very constructive thank you.

I'll just recapture some of your notes and delve if I may?

What changes would you make for it to be a tremendous sales pitch? (not a tremendous one? - If I am honest I feel like this comment was not constructive)
The thing is, you don't really need a sales pitch as a writer, hence the lack of constructive input on the point. The only exception to this would be if you were entering PitchMad or one of the 'events' where you pitch a story to an agent, but that's long down the road and something you may not be wanting or needing to ever do. I have never written a sales pitch and I doubt most published authors do. Most submissions require -- at most -- the book itself + query/cover letter + synopsis. That's it (and often the synopsis isn't needed). For self-publishing, you only need the book + product description + blurb + cover and everything else is back-end optional (marketing plan, etc.).

'new fantasy superhero story' This is a new story, new characters new shiny everything.

Right, but the point is 'new' should be a given by virtue of it being a novel in the first place. Fun fact: The word 'novel' actually means 'new' (as in, novel coronavirus). Stating that something is 'new' when that's the point of it is tautologous and thereby amateurish'.

Superhero stories are by definition fantasy stories - yes and there are so many other sub genres and other types of fantasy (Fables, Fairy's, Urban, Fantasy Romance,) Do you mean i should just drop the word fantasy?

Sure, you could. You don't really need to specify genre in blurbs at all (take a look at the nearest book on your shelf -- does the blurb mention what genre it is?) but if you insist on doing so then yes, drop fantasy because absolutely nobody is going to think a superhero story is a western. Arguably 'superhero' is almost a genre in itself anyway.

Literally out of this world - Yes he does leave this world.
Just been turned upside down literally - Yes he was. Thats why I wrote it, literally turned up side down.

I urge you to drop 'literally'. It's a grotesquely overused and misused term to the point a lot of people get confused as to whether it is being used appropriately even when it is. In this case, you have used it twice, which is it's own problem. It feels repetitious.

Again, I can't force your hand on this, but 'out of this world' and 'turned upside down' are both fictional clichés at this point. Do as thou wilt.

The strength and courage to delve into his own mind, cliche or not, it's paramount to the story.

But what does it mean? He's not literally delving into his own mind so what is he doing? Is he confronting some trauma? Learning something new? I guess the problem isn't so much the cliche but that 'delve into his own mind' simply doesn't have a clear meaning so it really feels like generic stuff.

Mid life crisis or coming of age?
He's now in his mid 40's and is only now beginning to deal with things he should or could have dealt with when he was younger.

Okay, got it, but can you see how the fact this was not mentioned previously makes it confusing? I did not get a sense he was in his mid forties, or any particular age, and without a sense of that, 'mid life crisis or coming of age?' doesn't work.
 
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Terra

Senior Member
Do people write their back cover blurb before the book is finished?

I have, and although my story isn't finished, I keep coming back to this blurb to make sure I am sticking to it.
Does it grab you? is it written correctly?
This is my first writing experience. How do other people do it?
This is where I started.


iLUMiNO is a new fantasy superhero story about warm-hearted hospital porter Aaron Abbey.
Something extraordinary and literally out of this world is about to happen to him. This is not TV, movies, or comics books, this is real life, and Aaron's world has just been turned upside down, literally.
Becoming the world’s first superhero gives Aaron the strength and courage to delve deep inside his own mind. Allowing himself to realise, accept and to become the person he really is.
A mid-life crisis? or a coming of age? Aaron would say "It's both".

Perhaps this blurb is more for you than for the future back cover of your book because it's helping to keep you on track with the story. I could see you developing it even more, using suggestions here, but whether or not it actually becomes part of your back cover doesn't really matter at this point -- it's serving a purpose to keep you writing.
 
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MistWolf

Senior Member
I agree with luckyscars. If I were to pick up a book with this back blurb, I would set it back on the shelf at the first use of the word "literally." My opinion is that using "literally" is a symptom of lazy writing.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
What does it mean to say "Aaron's world has just been turned upside down, literally"? What's literal about it? Does he actually go upside down? If not, it's not 'literal', right?

I agree with luckyscars. If I were to pick up a book with this back blurb, I would set it back on the shelf at the first use of the word "literally." My opinion is that using "literally" is a symptom of lazy writing.

I'm not sure if you watch reality TV, but they literally use "literally" all the time. And it is a very commonly used word by millenials.

So much so, that they have added a new meaning to the word. From Oxford Languages:

"used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true"

I like the word literally. I think it's appealing to a certain market. But I agree, I wouldn't use it twice.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
The thing is, you don't really need a sales pitch as a writer, hence the lack of constructive input on the point. The only exception to this would be if you were entering PitchMad or one of the 'events' where you pitch a story to an agent, but that's long down the road and something you may not be wanting or needing to ever do. I have never written a sales pitch and I doubt most published authors do. Most submissions require -- at most -- the book itself + query/cover letter + synopsis. That's it (and often the synopsis isn't needed). For self-publishing, you only need the book + product description + blurb + cover and everything else is back-end optional (marketing plan, etc.).

Really? Isn't that what the back blurb is all about? Aren't we trying to get someone who picks it up to buy it or read it? How is that not a sales pitch?

Right, but the point is 'new' should be a given by virtue of it being a novel in the first place. Fun fact: The word 'novel' actually means 'new' (as in, novel coronavirus). Stating that something is 'new' when that's the point of it is tautologous and thereby amateurish'.

There are two meanings to the word 'novel'. The adjective and the noun, so I don't follow your logic here. But then I'm a rank amateur. :)

Okay, got it, but can you see how the fact this was not mentioned previously makes it confusing? I did not get a sense he was in his mid forties, or any particular age, and without a sense of that, 'mid life crisis or coming of age?' doesn't work.

I see your point because in the literal sense they couldn't happen at once. Midlife is usually 45-65 yrs. old and coming of age is usually teenhood to adulthood. But, I actually liked this line, because it intrigued me and I could relate to it. I assumed he would be older, hense 'midlife crisis'. I think in this case the author meant to use 'coming of age' as a metaphor, for the fact that he was still dealing with stuff...aren't we all? I got it...chuckled and I thought it was clever!
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Really? Isn't that what the back blurb is all about? Aren't we trying to get someone who picks it up to buy it or read it? How is that not a sales pitch?

Because readers don't think of it that way. When you pick up a book your expectations of the blurb are that it will give you a flavor of the type of story it is, nothing more. Sales pitches normally contain explicit reasons why a product should be bought. A blurb should simply promote the content of the book. The outcome, of course, is the same and you're right that they are means to the same end, but the blurb shouldn't be overtly trying to 'sell'. That's why stuff like 'this is a new story!' does not belong in a blurb but would most certainly belong in a sales pitch.

There are two meanings to the word 'novel'. The adjective and the noun, so I don't follow your logic here. But then I'm a rank amateur. :)

Same Latin root though, I think?

I see your point because in the literal sense they couldn't happen at once. Midlife is usually 45-65 yrs. old and coming of age is usually teenhood to adulthood. But, I actually liked this line, because it intrigued me and I could relate to it. I assumed he would be older, hense 'midlife crisis'. I think in this case the author meant to use 'coming of age' as a metaphor, for the fact that he was still dealing with stuff...aren't we all? I got it...chuckled and I thought it was clever!

That's perfectly fine, I'm just saying that it's not cohesive.
 

Sam

General
Patron
I'm not sure if you watch reality TV, but they literally use "literally" all the time. And it is a very commonly used word by millenials.

So much so, that they have added a new meaning to the word. From Oxford Languages:

"used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true"

I like the word literally. I think it's appealing to a certain market. But I agree, I wouldn't use it twice.

This is not the proper use of the word. It's a bastardisation of it by people who've misunderstood the true meaning.

Literally means "reflecting the essential or genuine character of something; without embellishment or exaggeration". If you say, "he literally was torn in two", you mean he was actually torn in two. Not, he had a critical injury, but he was genuinely sliced into two.

OP, yes, I write the jacket blurb before starting the novel. It's my way of putting an idea into more concrete form.
 

Sam

General
Patron
Curious. What is the back cover blurb if you buy books on line?

I've seen some authors include the jacket blurb after the acknowledgements and before the prologue/first chapter of the e-book.

But I think most of them put it in the description on the Amazon page.
 
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PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Thanks, Sam. I meant e-books. :) Yep, it's the cover, title and finally the blurb which persuades me to buy.
 
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Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Because readers don't think of it that way. When you pick up a book your expectations of the blurb are that it will give you a flavor of the type of story it is, nothing more. Sales pitches normally contain explicit reasons why a product should be bought. A blurb should simply promote the content of the book. The outcome, of course, is the same and you're right that they are means to the same end, but the blurb shouldn't be overtly trying to 'sell'. That's why stuff like 'this is a new story!' does not belong in a blurb but would most certainly belong in a sales pitch.

A better reason not to use the word 'new' is that once the book is published, you hope it has some longevity. So a couple of years into sales, it is no longer new. (See, I'm learning how to use the single quote. :) )

We are getting into semantics when we use words like 'promote' over 'sell' and 'pitch'. But one of them needs to be combined with the 'flavour of the type to story' and 'content'.

Let's look at a Stephen King novel, The Outsider, ​for an example of a good blurb and break it down:

"A living nightmare has come to flint city, Oklahoma, as an eleven year old boy is found brutally murdered, in a local park - an unspeakable crime that rocks local law enforcement to its core as the most heinous atrocity anyone there has ever witnessed. Equally stunning is the identity of the prime suspect: Terry Maitland, one of Flint CIty’s most popular citizens, as well as a little league coach, English teacher, and devoted husband and father. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Multiple eyewitnesses and irrefutable evidence mean an ironclad case...until the investigation expands, and horrifying new details begin to emerge. Terry MAitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer is revealed, it will shock you as only master storyteller Stephen King can."

1) - The plot: "A living nightmare has come to flint city, Oklahoma, as an eleven year old boy is found brutally murdered, in a local park - an unspeakable crime that rocks local law enforcement to its core as the most heinous atrocity anyone there has ever witnessed."

2) - The protagonist: "Equally stunning is the identity of the prime suspect: Terry Maitland, one of Flint City’s most popular citizens, as well as a little league coach, English teacher, and devoted husband and father."

3) - The antagonist: "Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest."

4) - The genre: "Multiple eyewitnesses and irrefutable evidence mean an ironclad case...until the investigation expands, and horrifying new details begin to emerge."

5) - The hook: "Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face?"

6) - The sales pitch: "When the answer is revealed, it will shock you as only master storyteller Stephen King can."

And all of this is captured in 141 words.

 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
This is not the proper use of the word. It's a bastardisation of it by people who've misunderstood the true meaning.

Literally means "reflecting the essential or genuine character of something; without embellishment or exaggeration". If you say, "he literally was torn in two", you mean he was actually torn in two. Not, he had a critical injury, but he was genuinely sliced into two.

Intellectually, I agree with you, but whether or not we think it is a bastardisation, doesn't matter. It has been commonly used to a point where it means the exact opposite to what the word literally means, and that's what it means to many today. Call it colloquial if you wish.

There is another word that people use all the time to mean the antithesis of its definition. "Humble". Drives me crazy!

When people win an award...they say, "I am humbled". No you're not!!! You are honoured.

 
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