Get a Blurb

Blurb always sounds to me like an onomatopoeia. This is a word that should mean something like the last sound you make as you are drowning, as the bubble of air leaves your lungs and breaks to the surface… blurb. Instead, it’s not that bad but it feels that way. I can’t count how many times I have been told by my fellow authors that creating a blurb is so much worse than writing the whole darn book (coming up with a title seems to run neck and neck with this). However, a blurb is essential to a successful book. We’ve written up blurb workshops here at the MGC before, you can find one here. There’s another one here.

A blurb for an ebook goes onto the sales page for the book (and many other places). On a print book, it either goes on the back of a paperback (whether trade or mass-market sized) or the inside flap of a hardback. Since I’m dealing with trade paperbacks in this post, we will concentrate on the back cover blurbs, but there is no real difference from the hardback book requirements. A blurb is your second chance to hook a reader. The first was with the cover art, which for my purposes includes the first text they read, the title. In fact, if we are talking about shoppers in a bookstore, sometimes the title matters more than the cover art as it’s the first thing they see. Remember, spines are important too, as we discussed last week. So once you have intrigued them with the title, attracted them with the art, now is the time to sell the book.

No pressure. You have about, oh, 50-150 words to pitch your whole idea that took you a thousand times that many words to express in full.

I’d suggest you go look at the links above, and remember: no passive voice here. Also, you can put your blurb-in-progress in the comments, and I will try to help, as will your fellow commentors (gives them the mom-eye, you will share, right? Ahem…)

Now that you are working on the blurb, let’s move on to the rest of the layout of a back cover.

Guidelines

 

As you will see on the back cover for Dragon Noir, I have a tagline, a blurb, pull-quotes from reviews, an author photo, a call to visit my blog, a graphic element, and a QR code. I know, that is a lot of stuff going on in a small amount of real estate. All that, and you will note I avoid the barcode location, which is inserted by the printer, not you.

A tagline is a short, catchy sentence or sentence fragment you can use to catch the reader’s eye and pull them into reading the rest of the blurb. Think of it as a headline for your blurb. Writing headlines is an art unto itself, but if you have ever done it, then you are all set for this. If you haven’t, take heart. Headlines need to be punchy, but also say something about the content. Look at the headlines I used for this mini-series. Get a Spine, Get a Blurb: they both play off “get a life” but they don’t say that, and when a reader sees something unexpected, they look further. You want to keep this short.

Pull-quotes from reviewers is tricky if you haven’t got any. In my case, I’m using pull-quotes from the release of Pixie Noir, the first book in the series, and making it clear next to them. I sent Pixie Noir out to a number of places and people for review, but in general you don’t do this with every book in the series and it’s acceptable to carry the quotes through the series. Don’t, for goodness sakes, use Amazon reviews on the book cover for pull-quotes. I took some photos of back covers, and as you will see, some books later in a series, or non-fiction, eschew a blurb altogether in favor of pull-quotes.

Book Backs

Book four in John Ringo’s zombie series, and a non-fiction book: both are hardcovers.

I wouldn’t recommend this approach. Hardcovers as I illustrate above, have the inner flaps, where convention places the blurb at the front, and a short author bio at the back. We’re only working with the back cover to get all that in.

book backs

Don’t leave the cover blank.

If you leave the back cover blank, not only are you wasting all that lovely real-estate that could be promoting your book, you are making it look like it’s not a sale-ready copy. The black cover you see above is an uncorrected page proof that was sent to advance readers. I picked it up in a used book store along with several others like it – someone was cleaning their shelves off, and I made out! I wanted to show you the back of Pixie Noir, because I did a couple of things here. I used the graphic elements of the two guns to visually separate the blurb from the pull quotes. They also create a bit of negative space that reduces clutter and eyestrain. You do not want to pack your back cover full of stuff, the readers will go cross-eyed and put the book back down. I also put each quote in a different color to separate them, but this is not necessary, and can go very wrong if not done right.

Moving on to the final but very important elements: Author promo.

books-3

You do not have to put a photo of yourself on the book. There is no rule that says you must. However, if you do, then choose a professional headshot, well lit and with good contrasts, or a crisp photo as I have chosen above, with a little action in it. I will be changing this out on the next book, but I wanted it to be consistent through the series. Do not use a cell-phone shot, something that is blurry, dark, or full-length. Just your face is usually best (again, the one I’m using pushes that). You are talking about an image that will be a mere 1 1/2″tall. Do not use a photo of a pet, unless this is a book about your pet (or by your pet!) and then, if you do, same rules apply. If you don’t have a good photo, leave it off.

I don’t think you can read the text for my author promo, but it simply reads: “Find Cedar at her blog. Scan the code or go to http://www.cedarwrites.com” A QR code, that square futuristic-looking thing, is a very handy tool. You can generate them for free and very easily. I’ve been using QRStuff for mine recently – and make sure you check the graphic file, I was using another site and discovered it wasn’t rendering correctly. All you do is type in a URL and download the graphic file. Then your reader can scan with a smartphone app, which zooms them right to your website, Amazon Author page, or what-have-you (I use one on promotional material like bookmarks and postcards as well, and sometimes send the scanner code straight to a book for reading sample and buying).

Whew. Long post today! Ok, questions and blurbs in the comments, and I will talk to you all there.

 

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92 responses to “Get a Blurb

  1. Pingback: Horrifyingly Good | Cedar Writes

  2. This is timely! Writing a blurb is on the docket for today. Thanks!

  3. Awesome post. And the great thing about now and self-publishing is that if the first blurb doesn’t wow the customers, change it. (Harder for print, sure, but really, how often does a self-published work end up on a bookstore shelf for people to browse?)

    • Yes, although it’s much, much better to have a good blurb out of the starting gate. And as for the bookstore shelf: give us a few years. We’ll be there, and we have to be ready.

  4. I feel like I missed a class or two. Why NOT use Amazon reviews?

    M

    • Industry standard is to use professional reviews. Since I am not inclined to shell out for pretty words, I stuck to blurbs from my peers, and blogs. Amazon reviews are shaky ground, as so many of them are mass-produced for a few dollars. Yes, I know that ‘verified purchaser’ reviews are fine, but until the taint goes away, I would avoid putting them on a book. Sharing them to your own website or social media is fine and fun.

    • The only time I use an Amazon “review” is if it is an author doing the reviewer. Then I use only a snippet from the review. Oh, btw, Cedar, I did that with one of yours. Hope it’s okay. 😉

      • I am fine with it. Usually if I put a review on Amazon, it’s also on my blog, so you did it right anyway 😛

        And Pull-quotes, if I wasn’t clear enough, are not a whole review, but a punchy bit of a review.

  5. Reality Observer

    OK, I’ll be brave. This is the draft I was inspired to do after reading one of the prior pieces (whichever one came out about April 14th).

    Draft, oh yes. “Gaggle of vessels???” Ah, well, have at it…

    —–
    Meet Liutenant Alex Johanssen – rebellious son of a Trader Combine family, hotshot pilot stuck doing “humanitarian” missions in a lumbering cargo transport. It’s better than being the cargo master on his families’ ship, but still…

    Meet Captain Elena Matos-Corazòn – dutiful daughter of a Great House magnate, returning to her home world from the regular run of the trade circuit, only to encounter a gaggle of vessels escaping it’s conquest. As the highest ranking officer in what’s left of the Protection Fleet, and the heir of her father’s titles, she’s been conscripted as the leader of the remnants…

    Meet the Federation – a loose (to put it mildly) but large association of planets thrown into disarray when the nasty, autocratic (but human) conquerers show them that their squabbling over how people should live is rather unimportant, considering they are faced with an alien race that has decided humans really, really, shouldn’t live at all…

    • I’d avoid ‘meet’ as it’s passive. You might try something to the effect of: “Lieutenant Alex Johanssen is a hotshot pilot stuck in a lumbering cargo transport carrying out humanitarian missions. Marginally better than being a cargo master, still not enough for his thirst for adventure.

      Captain Elena Matos-Corazón is a finishing a trade circuit milk-run and looking forward to returning home to her family. When she encounters the stragglers of fleeing vessels in the wake of her homeworld’s conquest, she learns that she is the highest-ranking officer in what’s left of the Protection Fleet, and the heir to her father’s titles. Like it or not, she has been conscripted to leadership.

      The Federation is a loose association of planets, about to learn that human conquerors are preferable to aliens. How you should live looks less important when the alternative is not living at all…”

      I would tighten that still further, but the idea is to create a sense of momentum, of excitement, to pull the reader into learning more about these people. I’d also swap the para’s about Alex and Elena – she is more important and more sympathetic based on the blurb you gave.

      • Reality Observer

        Thank you!

        I’ll absorb the comments & revision later today (shopping day, which is several hours once we get things separated, the salads made, etc.).

        OK to post another version later? (Probably not today…) Switching the two MPCs really means switching them in the book (which is not going to be easy) – and I need to think about which one really is more sympathetic to start out with – there are things about Elena…

        • Sure on the other version. Like I said, that switch was based on what you gave in the blurb, so you may want to adjust your wording choices if that’s not a reflection of your book.

          • You’re using blurbs to part customers with their cash, I use them to convince them to give up their time. So from my perspective the blurb should also match the tone or voice of the story. Frex:

            Lt. Alex Johanssen: Hot-shot pilot stuck in a lumbering cargo transport running humanitarian missions. Sure, it’s better than playing Cargo Master. Just. But where’s the adventure he signed on for?

            I’m not saying that this is “your” voice, it’s just a different one than Ms Sanderson used. I’d script a bit that read similarly if I were trying to sell Sanderson’s Steelheart or Firefight.

            What do you think? Is matching the flavor of the story on the blurb (snarky, melodramatic, suspenseful, dreamy, emo, etc.) a consideration?

      • julieapascal

        I’d like some indication of how the two of them collide.

        Instead of a welcome home after her latest milk-run, Captain Elena Matos-Corazon encounters the battered stragglers of the Protection Fleet, fleeing the conquest of her home world. As the highest ranking officer in what is left of the Fleet and the heir to her father’s titles, she is conscripted into leadership. Like it or not.

        Among the remaining few assets she has to rescue her home from the Whoosits is Lieutenant Alex Johanssen, hot shot pilot and frustrated scion of House Fuzzybumpkin, exiled to a life of boredom and good deeds until he reforms his ways. It hasn’t worked yet.

        Faced with aliens who have decided that humans shouldn’t live at all, the most important question for the two of them to answer might just be, “Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?”

        (I suspect I’m totally mangling the relationship, but the basic idea is that the original doesn’t give any idea if they’re nominally on the same side, from the same planet, or actually opponents or enemies.)

  6. TRX

    If I pull the book out of the shelf, look at the cover, and it looks like someone’s 8-year-old daughter did the artwork in fingerpaint, it goes back on the shelf.

    If I open the cover of a book to read the teaser and find a bunch of endorsements instead, the book goes back on the shelf.

    If I flip it over to read the back, and find it’s just a giant picture of the author, it goes back on the shelf.

    What these tell me is that the publisher thought so little of the book they couldn’t be bothered to write any blurbs or pick some non-hideous artwork.

    So I know nothing other than the title, the author, and the fact that the publisher slated it for minimum effort. Am I going to choose this particular book over others? Unless the competition is even worse… they just lost a sale.

    I’ve never bought a book because of the cover, but I’ve passed by literal tons of them because of that.

    • Yep, and we have discussed cover art many, many times on the blog. For that matter, I suspect we will talk about it again sometime soon!

      The blurb, or as you call it accurately, the teaser, is very important.

    • I have. But in children’s lit the best of the best (the Dillons, Hyman, etc.) choose whether or not they’ll do the cover. I’ve never read a Trina Shart Hyman cover that wasn’t at least very good. Many are treasures.

  7. Gah. Hit enter by accident, and everything disappeared. Cedar, I like the way you have your back cover organized. It’s visually interesting.

    Anyway, this is what I’m wrestling with now, the blurb for The Lotus Trap, sequel to Company Daughter:

    “Aleta Dinesen is heading home from her voyages across the Gap universe when she’s sucked into the whirlpool of her mother’s past.

    The mysterious daya, the master illusionists who rule the Goyoti empire, have reached out to claim their wandering clan daughter. Trapped in the terrifying, high-stakes politics of the Lotus throne, Aleta will have to re-trace her dead mother’s past to escape a maze of illusion and find her way home to the Astraea

    I know, it needs more detail–but what kind?

    • I don’t know that it does need more detail, it’s interesting as it is. The blurb doesn’t need to be long. Second sentence is passive – can you change it to active? Maybe hint at specific
      dangers to Aleta?

    • Laura M

      Do you want to add a hint of disaster? I think Dwight Swain’s outline technique to make sure you have a story can also serve as a good guide to blurb writing. Situation, Character, Objective, Opponent, Disaster.

      Your blurb has the first three, but not the last two: Can Aleta find her way home when [opponent] will [do something awful.]

      Is that what you’re looking for?

      • hmmm, you and cedar appear to be saying the same thing. Okay, back to scribbling

        • How about: the mysterious dya etc [shoot down Aleta’s lightflyer / kidnap / teleport Aleta onto the bridge of the Imperial warcruiser / what have you] determined to reclaim their wandering clan daughter.

          I agree with Cedar. It’s a good solid hook.

  8. Laura M

    Interesting. I’ve just realized I need to fix the blurb on the book I just published. I looked at the blurb through the Swain prism and found it lacking.

    Gilead Tan and Andrea Fielding survived their stint in the military, got married, signed up to emigrate to a terraformed colony world, and went into cold sleep for the journey from Earth. While they slept, the starship got lost and settled for a different world, a wild world. Three centuries after the founding of a colony on the uncharted planet, Gilead awakens to find humanity slipped back to medieval tech and a feudal structure. Worse, the people who want him awake won’t let him wake his wife.

    I need to identify the opponent with greater particularity.

    • Agree that you need to mention the opponent, but I have a few more questions after reading this: if they have enough people awake to found a colony that lasts 300 years, why were gilead and andrea kept asleep? Why is Gilead woken? What consequences if he can’t defeat the opponent?

      • Laura M

        At first I was going to say, well, the answers are in the book. Then I thought I’d fix it as follows:
        Three centuries after the founding of a colony on the uncharted planet, Gilead awakens to find humanity slipped back to medieval tech and a feudal structure. Worse, the young king who wants a soldier awakened won’t let Gilead wake his wife or any of the other sleepers kept in reserve by the original settlers.

        • julieapascal

          I have a question… were they signed up to the new colony *as soldiers*? Unless someone went through and picked them out later as veterans for some reason to be held in reserve, then…

          Gilead Tan and his wife, Andrea Fielding, expected to be colonists, not soldiers, but signing on as colonial protection forces is how they paid for their place among the cryo-pods full of colonists in cold sleep headed to ThePlace.

          Gilead wakes to find that the colony ship never reached its intended destination and that all of the military passengers have been kept frozen within the depths of the wherever-they-are, held in reserve for some unknown contingency by the original settlers. Three long centuries have passed. The colony has regressed to a level of medieval technology and feudalism. The new king, facing (whatever it is), has decided he needs a soldier.

          But only one.

          (This all reminds me that I need to go buy that… think I’ll do it now.)

        • Jamie

          This still has too much of an “underpants gnome” quality to it: something happens, and then something disconnected occurs, and then a seemingly unrelated disaster ensues. Blurbs should raise intrigue, not befuddlement.

          Kali’s questions are good, and they’re exactly the ones you don’t want readers asking. I would add another: if this world is so medieval, how was it possible to remain in stasis? And for what purpose, given the resources involved?

          You might sidestep those questions like so: “War veteran Gilead Tan awakens in a neo-medieval society of lords and ladies. This is nothing like the colony he signed up for when he entered cold sleep. What’s worse, his wife was not revived alongside him — for reasons no one will explain. Now, he finds himself pitted against a [strong adjective] king bent on using him for ??? To save his wife, Gilead will have to adapt space-age battle tactics against enemies wielding sabers and crossbows.”

          If appropriate, add a line about “if you would strike at a king, you must kill him.”

          The uncharted planet isn’t intriguing in this context. The “300 years later” factor is confusing for reasons covered above, and it’s too much of a roadblock. Keep the good mystery (the wife is still a popsicle) and focus more on Gilead’s goal (whatever it is), his enemy (the king), and conflict (whatever it is).

          • Laura M

            All good. Will do. I do want you to know that the working title was ‘sicle, short for popsicle back when I first tried writing this long ago.

            • Agreed : spike your hook at the top if you can, then add the feathers and bells to tickle the reader’s fancy.

              Also: is this a stand-alone or somewhere in the middle?

              What do you think about warning/informing customers of your book’s series status.

              • Laura M

                It’s the first of at least two, possibly three, books. It’s completely unrelated to the other two I’ve published.

                When I put the next one out, hopefully by the end of the year, I’ll mark them both as part of the same series. I didn’t think I should say it’s part of a series, when it’s the only one, but I’m open to other thoughts?

    • julieapascal

      This actually isn’t bad. I looked at it on Amazon and it’s sort of funny, maybe, but it looks good on that page. The right length. Maybe not dramatic but very readable. If the test is “this will find the readers who want to find it” I think it passes.

      • Laura M

        Well, drama is good, so I will be noodling with it on the morrow. I have to balance between the gnome syndrome and over explaining in a blurb that I want to keep short, so….. We’ll see what I can come up with.

  9. Draven

    blurb 4 blurbs.

  10. Cedar, here is Iteration 0:

    Amy Ziegler is a psychology student from a broken home who became a guitar TA thanks to her raw musical talent.
    Ian Keenan is a seminary dropout turned chemical engineering professor who, following a separation from his first wife, is rekindling his musical avocations.
    The two meet, and bonding over music and each other’s emotional scars, a weird and wonderful friendship develops. As the friendship gradually morphs into romance, the two find themselves at the center of a maelstrom that threatens to swallow them both. Will love and common sense prevail?

    • NCT, why is their romance swallowed by a maelstrom? What forces are arrayed against their relationship?

      • OK, how do I explain this without too many spoilers?
        – Amy’s single mother, a devout Baptist abandoned by Amy’s father, disapproves of the relationship, even as she has more in common with Ian than she realizes
        – Ian’s ex wants him back. When she realizes he’s moved on after 5 years of separation, she actually proposes a menage a trois. When roundly rebuffed, she launches a character assassination campaign aimed at destroying Ian’s livelihood and relationship.
        – various activist groups try to peddle the fiction of Amy as a victim of an exploitative teacher-student relationship, and unfortunately the university admin buys this, as they do not know the principals involved at all.
        – I have one or two more nasty surprises

    • julieapascal

      I’m pretty sure that the important part is the maelstrom but there is exactly no information about it. I would advise not including back-story on the cover blurb.

  11. OK, please ignore the above:

    Cedar, here is Iteration 0.1:

    Amy Ziegler is a psychology student from a broken home who became a guitar TA thanks to her raw musical talent.
    Ian Keenan is a seminary dropout turned chemical engineering professor who, following a separation from his first wife, is rekindling his musical avocations.
    The two meet, and bonding over music and each other’s emotional scars, a weird and wonderful friendship develops. As the friendship gradually morphs into a topsy-turvy version of a teacher-student romance, the two find themselves at the center of a maelstrom that threatens to engulf them both. Will love and common sense prevail?

    • Reality Observer

      “TA” – Teaching Assistant? That’s what I see – in any case, that’s because the wife is an educator; if it’s right, it’s still not obvious to all.

      • OK, here goes Iteration 0.2:

        Amy Ziegler is a psychology student from a broken home who has trouble making ends meet. After guitar and composition professor Dr. Levine spots her raw musical latent, she is able to eke out a living as his teaching assistant.
        Ian Keenan is a seminary dropout turned chemical engineering professor who, following a separation from his first wife, is rekindling his musical avocations, and starts taking his best friend Dr. Levine’s class.
        Ian and Amy thus meet. Bonding over their shared love of music and each other’s emotional scars, a weird and wonderful friendship develops. As the friendship gradually morphs into a topsy-turvy version of a teacher-student romance, the two find themselves at the center of a tug-of-war between Amy’s mother who disapproves of the relationship, Ian’s ex who wants him back at all cost, and clueless university administrators who mistake Ian and Amy’s relationship for an exploitative one. Will love and common sense prevail?

        • How about something like “They bonded over music, but faculty, family, exes and people with agendas create a maelstrom of barriers to their love.”

          We don’t need their resumes, we need at least a hint of what the problem is.

  12. Iteration 0.21:

    Amy Ziegler is a psychology student from a broken home who has trouble making ends meet. After guitar and composition professor Dr. Levine spots her raw musical latent, she is able to eke out a living as his teaching assistant.
    Ian Keenan is a seminary dropout turned chemical engineering professor who, following a separation from his first wife, is rekindling his musical avocations, and starts taking his best friend Dr. Levine’s class.
    Ian and Amy thus meet. Bonding over their shared love of music and each other’s emotional scars, a weird and wonderful friendship develops. As the friendship gradually morphs into a topsy-turvy version of a teacher-student romance, the two find themselves at the eye of a storm involving Ian’s ex who wants to win him back by all means fair or foul, Amy’s mother who disapproves of the relationship, and clueless university administrators who mistake Ian and Amy’s relationship for an exploitative one. Will love and common sense prevail?

    • julieapascal

      I helped my sister hone a “pitch” and I only mention that because she did the same thing that you have done and I’m about to give the same advice. Try introducing each of those ideas in reverse order. The punch needs to be at the beginning and not at the end. Fill in the details after the punch. In the novel everything goes in a normal order so it makes sense to do the same thing only distill it down super super short while turning it around is counter intuitive. Try it, though, and see what you end up with.

      Can love and common sense prevail? The forces arrayed against Amy Ziegler and Ian Keenan know what is best for the young couple. Amy’s mother makes her disapproval clear. Ian’s ex wants him back and will do anything to get him. University administrators are convinced someone is being exploited. Will the love of music Ian and Amy share lead them through to their happily ever after?

      (If it’s not a conventional romance the last line would probably be wrong.)

  13. julieapascal

    If there is a significant age difference… “May-December couple” instead of “young couple.”

    • Here is iteration 0.3 (you can tell I’m a rookie at fiction writing, even if a fairly old hand at technical nonfiction):

      Two hearts beat on different strings: those of Amy Ziegler, a young coed and guitar virtuoso, and of Ian Keenan, a chemical engineering professor taking her class after hours. Bonding over their shared love of music, and each other’s emotional scars, they develop a weird and wonderful friendship that morphs into a topsy-turvy student-teacher romance.

      The forces arrayed against them know what it best for them. Amy’s mother makes her disapproval clear. Ian’s ex wants him back and will do anything to get him. University administrators are convinced someone is being exploited. Will they tear Ian and Amy apart, or will love and common sense prevail?

      ****

      The term “May-December romance” to me evokes “Harold and Maude” (ugh) type images — am I off-base? The actual couple is only 15 years apart in age. (I sent the MS in for editing some days ago.)

      • Sorry. missed the leading sentence. Iteration 0.31:

        Can love and common sense prevail? Two hearts beat on different strings: those of Amy Ziegler, a young coed and guitar virtuoso, and of Ian Keenan, a chemical engineering professor taking her class after hours. Bonding over their shared love of music, and each other’s emotional scars, they develop a weird and wonderful friendship that morphs into a topsy-turvy student-teacher romance.

        The forces arrayed against them know what it best for them. Amy’s mother makes her disapproval clear. Ian’s ex wants him back and will do anything to get him. University administrators are convinced someone is being exploited. Will they tear Ian and Amy apart, or will love and common sense prevail?

        ****

        The term “May-December romance” to me evokes “Harold and Maude” (ugh) type images — am I off-base? The actual couple is only 15 years apart in age. (I sent the MS in for editing some days ago.)

        • julieapascal

          I think that’s pretty good.

          I smiled when I read it and hope you don’t take this wrong but it is so very much like what my sister wrote I have to ask… is most of your time spent in an academic environment?

          And no, 15 years apart isn’t May-December.

  14. and another variation 0.32, now trying to “reverse chrono” it more:

    Can love and common sense prevail?
    The forces arrayed against Ian and Amy know what it best for them. Amy’s mother makes her disapproval clear. Ian’s ex wants him back and will do anything to get him. University administrators are convinced someone is being exploited.
    Two hearts beat on different strings: those of Amy Ziegler, a young coed and guitar virtuoso, and of Ian Keenan, a chemical engineering professor taking her class after hours. Bonding over their shared love of music, and each other’s emotional scars, theirs was a weird and wonderful friendship that morphed into a topsy-turvy student-teacher romance.
    Will the maelstrom tear Ian and Amy apart, or will their love conquer all?

    • is best… and I think this is good! I almost want to read it, and I’m not a romance reader 🙂

      • How about I send you a Word or .mobi file after I hear back from the editor and prepare iteration two? That’s probably gonna be another 2-3 weeks total. It’s “odd” enough that you may actually like it.

        Oh yes, and congratulations again!

        • Or a link, so I can buy and review 😀 I prefer to be a verified purchaser reviewer.

          • Well, of course that’d be mighty neat of you but I was actually looking to spare you the purchase price 🙂 I will probably do at least two more editing cycles (plus have somebody proofread it) and will have to start hunting for a cover design. But I don’t want to splurge too much of my “hobby discretionary fund” on a first effort. My main original purpose was learning how to write somewhat credible characters — so I could do apply that skill to books in genres more up your & my alley. Along the way, my two protagonists became ‘real’ to me and I may actually write one or two sequels that will cross over into mystery and thriller genres.

    • jsf001

      I am not really qualified to give you good advice on writing a blurb as I have never written a book much less a blurb for one. Instead I am using my military experience in written performance reports to hopefully give you some suggestions that might be applicable to writing a blurb. When written a performance report we have one line per action a subordinate preformed, so the goal is to condense as much pertinent information while eliminating any fluff (extra words).

      The biggest thing to me is it reads kind of like you are introducing the main characters twice. If you are going to introduce the characters last names in the blurb in my opinion it should be with the first time you mention them. I think the “Two hearts beat on different strings” line breaks the flow and would fit better either at the beginning (Two hearts beat on different strings, Can love and common sense prevail?) or the end (Two hearts beat on different strings: Will the maelstrom tear Ian and Amy apart, or will their love conquer all?) I am also not sure Ian being a chemical engineering professor is pertinent information. Simply saying he is a Professor for example conveys all the information the reader needs. I believe on the other hand calling Amy a Teacher’s Assistant instead of simply a coed gives it a bit more punch being a better descriptor.

      grrr, wordpress is not letting me log in

      • Let me give this another go. The operative/implied bit of info is really that he’s a professor in another field, and for the purpose at hand effectively HER student. Otherwise it would be like a commanding officer having a relationship with one of his subordinates 😉

      • OK, version 0.4, synthesis from different mutually contradictory recommendations. The working title was “When the heart rules the mind” but another possible title is “On different strings”.

        v0.4a:
        Two hearts beat on different strings.
        The forces arrayed against Ian and Amy know what is best for them. Amy’s mother makes her disapproval clear. Ian’s ex wants him back and will do anything to get him. University administrators are convinced someone is being exploited.
        Amy, a young guitar virtuoso and teaching assistant, and Ian, an engineering professor taking her class after hours, bonded over their shared love of music and each other’s emotional scars. Their weird and wonderful friendship morphed into a topsy-turvy student-teacher romance.
        Will the maelstrom tear Ian and Amy apart, or will love and common sense prevail?

        v0.4b:
        Two hearts beat on different strings.
        Amy, a young guitar virtuoso and teaching assistant, and Ian, an engineering professor taking her class after hours, bond over their shared love of music and each other’s emotional scars. Their weird and wonderful friendship morphs into a topsy-turvy student-teacher romance.
        The forces arrayed against them know what is best for them. Amy’s mother makes her disapproval clear. Ian’s ex wants him back and will do anything to get him. University administrators are convinced someone is being exploited.
        Will the maelstrom tear Ian and Amy apart, or will love and common sense prevail?

        • Laura M

          4b. You want to leave us worried so we’ll read it.

        • jsf001

          I personaly like v0.4b. The only issue I pottentially see with it is the sentence “The forces arrayed against them know what is best for them”. The double “them” in the sentence makes it seem a bit clumsey to me (it might not be gramicly correct as well, but I am the last person you should ask about that type of thing). Also, that sentence pretty much is saying that the forces arayed against Ian and Amy are right, and Ian and Amy are pretty much doomed.

  15. I was one of only twelve survivors of The War. A dozen scientists, buried in a deep bunker in the Antarctic icecap, frantically trying to perfect a time machine, so we could go back and save our civilization.
    We failed.
    Oh, the time machine worked.
    But changing history has turned out to be more complicated than we’d realized.
    Haven’t got it right, yet.

    • Well that piqued my interest alright!

      • Good! The book is all first person, but I don’t know if that’s right for the blurb.

        • Well, it didn’t bother me.

        • julieapascal

          I think the first person is fine for the blurb.

          I’m trying to decide if you can do anything with the tenses to manipulate urgency, but anytime I try, for example, “so we can go back”… I get muddled.

          “I am one of only twelve survivors of The War. We are a dozen scientists buried deep in a bunker beneath the Antarctic icecap, frantically trying to perfect a time machine so we can go back to save our civilization.

          We try. We fail.

          Oh, the time machine works.

          But changing History turns out to be more complicated than we realized.

          Haven’t gotten it right yet.

          That’s as un-muddled as I’m capable of. Problem being that the time machine isn’t being perfected in the present but in the past.

          • Laura M

            Could just the “we tried, we failed” line be either past tense or whatever the other one is called: “we have tried, we have failed”? (Past perfect?)

            They say when writing blurb to have it in the present tense, but if an event is over before the story starts it can be past tense.

            • julieapascal

              Just the original “We failed.” is probably better. I replaced it at the very last moment because I couldn’t think of what would work there.

              That’s what I was talking about getting muddled. Building the time machine was in the past, too, but maybe perfecting it is still ongoing so maybe that works.

              The original was great. I just had an idea and wanted to see if it worked.

          • …go back in time to our recent history, to change the disastrous course that led to the death of our civilization. To the death of the human race.

    • Laura M

      I remember this snippet. When is it coming out?

      • The beta readers have handed me a sizable chunk of comments that I’m thinking about, so a month, probably.

          • Time Loop I’m contemplating a pen name for hard SF, as opposed to my SF/F mashups. “Butch” is almost irresistible.

            • Laura M

              Although Butch is infinitely appealing, wouldn’t you have to re-build your fan base?

              • That’s the main drawback. Then there’s giving into the myth that SF readers don’t buy books written by women. So I’ll probably think wistfully, but not do it.

                • julieapascal

                  Since I just read Lawyers of Mars I’m sorta all… Oooo oh! Time macine!

                  • Maybe if I unhooked from the internet for a couple of months I could catch up with all the stuff I ought to be doing, instead of letting my Muse lead me astray with new ideas. That is, with out the internet, I could catch up, with frequent breaks for the new ideas . . . or something like that.

                • We don’t buy books from well, hectoring intersectional feminists and romance writers (two distinct categories, mind!) Sarah Hoyt, Lois Bujold, Kris Rusch and C.J. Cherryh have as many male fans as female.

                  If your title, cover, and tag line make it clear that you’re not smuggling in some kind of drippy romance, or emo navel-gazing (like “the water that falls from nowhere”) or Men Ruin Everything Because Reasons plot, you should be fine.

                • Alan

                  That IS a myth! Granted, the first ones I bought & liked (20-30 yrs ago?) were somewhat on the fantasy side, but the quality of the writing pretty thoroughly knocked out any misogynistic qualms or assumptions about style. I’d think that’s an out-dated worry by now.

  16. Thanks a lot y’all, that’s been very educational!

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