Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Short and Sweet on Queries


A Blurb might be painful and I think every author would prefer she could skip the blurb and just get the agent, editor and reader to read her writing. But that blurb is the only way you're going to get people to read your writing. It's not just agents who need the blurb. It's editors, and it's readers.

Before a reader will even consider opening the book to read the writing they are going to read the back cover blurb. Often the back cover blurb is taking directly from the author’s initial query.

--jhf

6 comments:

Kim Wedlock said...

I completely agree with what you've said. I hate writing blurbs. But, funnily enough, as a reader I never look at blurbs. I pick up books at random. I go to the fantasy section of a bookshop and just pick something up, usually based on title. Sometimes I go back and read the blurb after having read the book and realise that if I had read the blurb first, I never would have picked the book up in the first place. I think it takes real talent to write an interesting blurb, and it's a talent that certainly escapes me! But, at the same time, it's a part of writing. Writing an amazing story is one thing, but presenting it and enticing the readers with just a few words is just as important. If you can't do that, you can't expect your work to thrive.

I love this blog, by the way, it's been massively helpful to me, and the week you inadvertently spent covering synopsis a few months ago has been the most helpful yet! It's wonderful for a writer to be able to see the business through the eyes of an agent!

Anonymous said...

I never read book cover blurbs. Ever.

AJ Blythe said...

Often the back cover blurb is taking directly from the author’s initial query

I'd never thought of that connection before. I wonder if it will help with my query writing if I think of the potential blurb for my book? Makes sense though. Thanks!

Elissa M said...

I confess. I pick books by their covers.

First, the cover illustration. I majored in commercial art with an illustration emphasis. There's nothing I like better than admiring professional illustrations. Cover layout and font also matter to me. It's very, very hard for me to look past a bad cover.

Now, I don't read the "blurbs" that are quotes from other authors, but I most definitely read the back copy blurb. How else will I have any idea what the book's about? Sure, I probably know the genre from both the cover and the aisle in the store where I picked it up, but that's pretty slim info.

IF all looks good so far, I'll note two different things: Is it book XX of a multi-volume saga? What authors are quoted on the front?

If the series is new to me but it's not the first volume, I won't buy it. If I'm on the fence and the author endorsements are writers I love, I'll probably buy.

But after the cover, the back copy is the swaying factor in more than 99% of my book purchases. I completely understand why a query has to explain the story to an agent as enticingly as possible. After all, if I can't interest an agent with my query, how do I expect to snag readers who have hundreds (even thousands) of volumes (with covers!) to choose from every time they walk in the store or open the web page?

DLM said...

I'm like Elissa M., quotes about a book mean nothing to me, I don't care who wrote them. But i do read blurbs, yep.

I wish *more* of them were based on queries, because the number of blurbs out there that are wildly inaccurate or end up having no discernible relationship to a novel's contents is surprisingly high. (I'm assuming queries are not frequently outright incorrect or actually misleading, though that may be inaccurate too!)

kymlucas.me said...

I subscribe to several of those "cheap and free book" newsletters, and many (though not all) of the books they advertise have clearly been -- how can I put this nicely? -- self-published before their time. This is obvious from their book blurbs. I find myself saying things like, "Why would I care of your main character goes to Florida and drinks wine with friends?"

The good part is, reading such blurbs reminds me how important it is to keep working on perfecting my own blurbs.

And this is not a slam on those who choose to self-publish. Plenty of writers do it and do it well including some of my friends.