Saturday MFRW had two fabulous classes: Before You Sign The Contract, and Writing Catchy Blurbs.

Of the two, I enjoyed the Blurbs class by Trish Owens, Scarlett editor with The Wild Rose Press, which she’s been with since 2008. Trish is full of energy, and awesome advice! The class was a lot of fun, and a terrific learning experience.

I cannot stress enough how wonderful MFRW is. We offer our members a ton of information from all aspects of the publishing business, and fabulous opportunities. Such as: The September Pitch Event. Results are in. Our members had 19 full manuscripts, and 9 partials requested. Not one was were rejected, and several were already offered contracts.

Italicized below is a small  tidbit from the class, explaining exactly what a blurb is.

What is a blurb?

A blurb is a short summary of your story. The phrase was coined in 1907 but blurbs have been used much longer than that, with Wikipedia stating they were used in Egyptian literature in the 14th century.

It’s the second most important seller of your book if you’re published—they are going to judge your cover, like it or not. If you’re not published, it’s going to grace your cover letters until an editor or agent asks to see more.

Here is another piece of advice she gave us.

Writing a blurb is a writing exercise all writers hate, right up there with the synopsis and the query letter. I personally hate writing blurbs, but it’s a something I seem to be good at, despite the loathing. It does take a certain mind-set to work on them, so if I’m in blurb mode (meaning, sky-high on caffeine) I’ll crank out a bunch of them while the iron is hot. However, knowing how to write a decent blurb may help the actual writing process go smoother and quicker because you’ll KNOW your GMC intimately. It could be a win/win, if you let it be.

Maximum length:

150-200 words.

Less is better, and the amount varies by genre, but never exceeds the 200 mark. For instance a Novella would top around 70 words.

The key to doing this is tightening the prose. Make every single word work double time.

Role call:

The blurb is where you introduce your cast of characters. If it’s a romance, stick to the main couple. If it’s multiple partner erotic romance, stick to the main few.

Genre up:

Your blurb also needs to sell your genre to some extent, because a reader may want to buy it (or avoid it) because of the genre. Trust me, readers get mad if they think they’re buying a sweet, plain contemporary romance and end up with horny, hungry vampires.

For Paranormal—focus on the element that makes it such. Vampires, ghosts, unicorns, shifters. Make sure you mention your device of choice.

Descriptive words:

The words you choose can make or break your blurb. You want to get inventive.

The end!

You want to end your blurb with a cliff hanger of sorts. It can be a question that makes the reader wonder how things will turn out, or a statement that will drive your reader crazy for more. You want to avoid cliché or rhetoric questions.

Formula:

Goal, Motivation, Conflict. {Internal and external conflicts}

Here is a quick formula to help narrow down you GMC:

(Character’s name) wants XXX (goal) because ZZZ(why motivation) but can’t have it because of YYY (conflict.) (Character’s name) will get it by doing ZZZ (how motivation).

Sounds simple, right?  If you can break it down like this, then you have a great head start for crafting your blurb.

This one-two sentence part won’t actually go into the blurb, but it will bring to light the key components you’ll need to thread into the blurb.

Here is an example from my blurb for Dangerous Temptation:

My original blurb:

Seventeen year-old Kaitlin Sinclair’s world is turned upside down when she discovers secrets that threaten the existence of the mysterious Cadmon and his people. Keeping her heart safe might prove as impossible as staying alive!

Feedback from Trish:

Kitty,

First, this sounds very intriguing. I love books about foreign lands and there are so many conflicts that go hand-in-hand with a heroine in a strange land. It’s just a perfect storm for a good book!

Seventeen year-old Kaitlin Sinclair’s world is turned upside down when she moves to Indonesia. (is she there because of her parents, school, college, willingly…)

She dives into THIS RICH foreign culture, full of mystique and dangers everywhere she turns. (HOW DOES SHE DISCOVER THIS? DOES SHE MEET HIM FIRST, DOES HE INTRODUCE HIM TO HIS PEOPLE, DOE SHE FALL DOWN A RABBIT HOLE…I WOULD DO A FEW MORE LINES ABOUT THIS, AND THEN LEAD INTO THE SECRETS.

The secrets that threaten the existence of the enchanting Cadmon and his people. (Build on this a bit. If this is true YA romance, and it’s long enough, you may want to break into a paragraph of his own. If not, stick with her.)

Keeping her heart safe might prove as impossible as staying alive! (Like this!)

Trish

My response:

Hi Trish,

Kaitlin is forced to move halfway across the world, because her uncle received custody of her after her father’s death. Her run in with the law {she killed a man in self defense} prevents her from filing for emancipation, that and all her father’s estate going into a trust-fund. The cop she was staying with has taken a new job in another state and leaves no time for keeping tabs on her activities.

Kaitlin meets Cadmon at a celebration her uncle Nigel {the villain} forced her to attend on her first night in Indonesia.

She learns about the local legends and goes exploring with her camera, and stumbles across Cadmon, who shifts to rescue her.

Trish’s Response:

Hi Kitty,

This is the best I can do. But you can see how I worked in a few more of these elements to show the danger and excitement. You can use it if it works. I realize some of what I wrote may not, but it’s hard to fill in the blanks when you only know half of the story.

Trish

Seventeen year-old Kaitlin Sinclair’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to move half-way around the world to Indonesia with her uncle, her only living relative. Her life is in utter turmoil, and the demons she left behind in (Timbucktoo) seem to follow her around the world to this land of intrigue and mystery. When her uncle forces her to attend a celebration, her new friend, Cadmon fills her ears with legends of a people that can shift their form from human to XXX. Armed with her camera, Kaitlin goes exploring and discovers her new friend is one of these people, and their way of life is threatened.

Now in debt to Cadmon, she vows to help him save his people and hide his secrets. Unfortunately, this new world proves that keeping her heart safe might be as impossible as staying alive!

Anyway, from those two rounds of exchanges,you get the idea. She’s got me working with her formula and my info, to add kick to the blurb I originally published with.

Personally, I want to find a way to work this log line below, into the blurb too:

To avoid being mistaken as the prophesied destroyer of were-tigers, a spirited teenage girl must uncover the secrets of her heritage, that could save or destroy the were-tiger leader she loves.

Isn’t that awesome? It’s full of conflict and tells us the book is YA Paranormal Romance, and introduces the main characters. So, that was a lot to work with from the beginning.

Now, I don’t want the blurb to give everything away. That’s what the synopsis is for. Besides, if the blurb gives away the entire plot, why read the story, right?

So, to recap, we’ve discovered that GMC and Trimming are once again the main keys to making things work. For those just beginning,  my advice is to work on learning to craft a log line, then the blurb. Those are going to be two of your biggest marketing keys.

What do you think of today’s lesson? Does it sound easy, or hard? Those of you who have attended this class, is there anything you’d like to add? What are some of the neat tricks you’ve picked up on your marketing journey?

Reference Materials: Crafting Blurbs by Trish Owens, courtesy of MFRW, and The Wild Rose Press.

About kittyb78

Catrina Barton is a licensed Kung-Fu Instructor of the Black Dragon style, and draws on that experience to make her fight scenes both realistic and action packed. She enjoys being surrounded by the stark beauty of mother nature. Whether it's a moon-lit starry sky, or a picnic by a peaceful waterfall cascading from the mountain side. Growing up no matter where she was physically, she always had at least one book in her hands and spent every free moment lost in a book. It's only natural that as she grew up, her passion for reading grew into an even stronger passion for writing, especially Young Adult Paranormal Romances. She is a proud member of many writing and marketing groups, and an active participant at Critique Circle and several other crit groups. Favorite personal quote: "An author cannot grow without both constructive criticism and encouragement."

2 responses »

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hi Krystal! :) I’m always happy to pass along the stuff that I learn. :) Since MFRW’s motto is Seek, teach, learn, share, succeed. It’s all about passing on what we’ve learned. :) Thanks for taking time to comment. Return anytime. :)

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