Book blurb: does it work?
September 11, 2012 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Blurb for my new (upcoming) novel: how well does it work?

Fiction filter: Though the novel is nowhere near done, I've drafted a blurb to help me focus. All feedback welcome and appreciated, but I'd especially like to know if the blurb piques your interest / makes you want to read more. Thanks!


Some husbands collect coins. Rick Hartshorn collects other women. Over the years this handsome, charming businessman has become expert at manipulating vulnerable women–single or married, and not just one at a time–into affairs lasting days, months, even years. He's perceptive, persistent, amoral, unrepentant, and lucky.

Very lucky.

Until one day his wife Kate tells him: "I know everything."

Which she doesn't. Not by a long shot.

Intent on saving her marriage, Kate investigates, confronts, demands. Determined to hide his 99-name track record and keep on feeding his appetites, Rick covers up, denies, pushes back. When Rick, in the ultimate act of defiance, takes up with #100, luck finally runs out–
But not for him.


SUDDEN SILENCE
secrets, death, and consequences:
a novel
posted by reacheround to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Are you asking something, or advertising? How well does it work on what?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:51 PM on September 11, 2012


I am _not_ advertising. I have nothing to advertise (it's not done and may never BE done). All I'm asking is if this blurb makes you, as a potential reader, want to read more of the book. Thanks!
posted by reacheround at 1:52 PM on September 11, 2012


(I assume the q. is just "how well does this work as a blurb"--i.e., would it make you buy the book--or at least, crack it open).

I find it a bit too wordy as a blurb and a bit too "here's a chunk of the plot...and another...and another." I think you need to go out and read a ton of blurbs to get the "voice" of them a little more. You want to tease the reader with "hey, I'd like to know where this goes" but more on a thematic level and less on a "here are all the elements of the set up" level.
posted by yoink at 1:54 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Consider changing the third sentence to read: " . . . women–single or married, and not just one at a time–into affairs lasting years, decades, even centuries."
posted by February28 at 1:54 PM on September 11, 2012


Too much information for a true blurb.

It's an interesting concept but I think you've given away way too much with the description.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:55 PM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's a promising pitch but I wonder if maybe you could be getting more mileage out of the "complications" phase. We spend a lot of time in the part where it's easy for Rick, but it might be good to cut to the chase and get him into a more desperate situation sooner. By paragraph 4 there's still not that much tension because Rick still seems to be skating by in a way that makes us dislike how easy things are for him.

It's not until he or Kate get into trouble that I think we really want to follow them. There's sort of a law of physics that says we want to see people get into trouble, but aren't drawn as much to stories of people who have it easy

With that in mind I think you might even refocus the whole thing on Kate, because she's taking the most dramatic action here. Rick's just a cad, but it's Kate who seems to be instigating (and maybe suffering in the end from?) the tragedy. Someone's got to suffer an undeserved downfall caused by their own actions, but Rick has it so easy.
posted by steinsaltz at 1:55 PM on September 11, 2012


"Other women" is redundant. We already know he's married, just say "collects women." Then end it after "not by a long shot."
posted by nathancaswell at 1:59 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


do you intend to query agents with this? or is it just for your own motivation? if the former, it would need to be quite different.
posted by changeling at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2012


The first thing that came to mind for me was, what distinguishes your book from all the other books about the same subject? Just wanting to find out why someone's luck ran out at #100 is not compelling enough for me.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:09 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it could be shortened to:

Some husbands collect coins. Rick Hartshorn collects other women. He's perceptive, persistent, amoral, unrepentant, and lucky.

Until one day his wife Kate tells him: "I know everything."

When Rick defiantly takes up with #100, luck finally runs out–
But not for him.

posted by MoonOrb at 2:14 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Its pretty good. Imagine Don LaFontaine reading it--it works.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:16 PM on September 11, 2012


I like Moonorb's edit, but I'd go further:

Some people collect coins. Rick Hartshorn collects other women. He's persistent, unrepentant, and lucky.

Until his wife tells him: "I know everything."

Someone's luck is about to run out–but not Rick's.


I think it's good to delay the reveal that Rick's married (hence the swap of "husbands" for "people") and you want it generally to be less wordy. I don't thin the "#100" is a very rich detail (is the story essentially different if it's #92 or #102?) so it's best axed.
posted by yoink at 2:26 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


What JohnnyGunn said. Unless you have a radically new plot, that's not what people are looking for. Tell me it's lyrical or hard-hitting or anything that really differentiates it from "Husband cheats, tragedy ensues."
posted by Etrigan at 2:28 PM on September 11, 2012


Some husbands collect coins.

It's a weak opening line, and a pretty strange one. Some husbands collect stuffed owls too, but what has being a husband got to do with that? "Rick Hartshorn collects women" gets you straight to the point, without the nerdy-hobby comparison. The rest of the blurb is much too long and contains too many elements, as others have said. It's also very cheesy, but that's probably a feature of the intended audience.
posted by pipeski at 2:29 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thinking about it a bit more, I'd do away with the "but not Rick's" from my version. Just "Someone's luck is about to run out" is enough. The fact that it's not "Rick's luck is about to run out" is enough to plant the seed that there's more in play here than a philanderer getting his comeuppance. Being told in the blurb that Rick's luck won't run out feels like having the potential tension drained from the story. It's like saying "the protagonist is invulnerable." Of course, I'm sure the story actually goes to more complex and interesting places than you're suggesting there, but from the perspective of the blurb-reader you want to be teased with possibilities rather than be given what seems like a potential spoiler.
posted by yoink at 2:37 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rick Hartshorn collects women. He's persistent, unrepentant, amoral and lucky.

Until his wife tells him: "I know everything."

When Rick then takes up with his hundredth woman, someone's luck finally runs out.



I don't like "some people/husbands collect coins" as an opener, unless the twist is that he stuffs and kills the women in a sort of contemporary Bluebeard plot. He doesn't collect "other women", he just collects women. I am not totally in love with my last line. But I also think that some more information about the plot would be useful.
posted by jeather at 2:49 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it helps you, it's helpful.

You won't actually have to write your own back-jacket copy (which is what this is) if you're publishing with a commercial publisher, so it doesn't really matter how good you are at it. The thing that matters is how good you are at writing the novel.

If you're planning to self-publish, I would rethink using this as jacket or teaser copy. But you'll have a better handle on it once you finish the novel.

If you're aiming at using this as the pitch section of a query letter, I don't think it's strong or engaging enough yet. A great query resource is Query Shark; Query Quagmire also has some excellent tips.

Best of luck with your book!
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:01 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as usual let me recommend the forums at AbsoluteWrite.com.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:01 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


After reading jeather's blurbification, I can definitely say that my interest in the book has increased. It's punchy and implies that neat things will happen without giving me any idea of what they are (is the hundredth woman a serial killer? International spy? Vampire?).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:26 PM on September 11, 2012


Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. Very helpful.
posted by reacheround at 8:34 AM on September 12, 2012


The exercise itself is great. And the comments here are thoughtful and may help you strengthen the blurb. And IAN your editor, or a blurb man, or even a published author, etc, etc.
But I will say this: After reading your blurb, I'd read the first page of the book.
And isn't that the point?
posted by LonnieK at 5:18 PM on September 12, 2012


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