Are you getting ready to head to the RWA conference? If so, Kayelle Allen’s post could help you present your book in the best light possible – while in the elevator!
Let’s say you’re attending a writer’s conference, and you’re scheduled to pitch to an agent whom you’ve been dying to meet. You check in, head down to the lobby, and who gets on with you but that very agent. She sees your name tag, and says, “Oh, I’m supposed to see you tomorrow,” and introduces herself. Then she says, “Tell me about your book.” Your heart is slamming against your rib cage like a prizefighter, your mouth is dry, and your brain is numb. You’re afraid to even try to speak. What do you do?
Don’t think that could happen? How about this? You get into the same elevator, and a sweet older gentleman asks you if you’re an author like the others he’s seen at the hotel. You say yes, and he asks what you write. Later you find out he’s a big name producer from Hollywood. Did you dazzle him with a concise presentation, or blow him off? Did you make a solid business impression, or come across like an amateur? Perhaps his wife buys a few hundred books a year and he’d love to give her your business card and tell her she can come meet you at the signing later in the hotel.
You never know who you might be talking to, so it’s a good idea to be ready to share your story world with anyone who asks.
In the time it takes to pop into an elevator, ride a couple of floors, and get off, you should be able to explain the concept of your book. A book blurb does that for you. Here’s how to make it work.
Reduce to the Basics
What goes in a blurb? There are several things to include.
- The protagonist name
- What the protagonist is or does (ex-soldier, teenager, cop)
- An incident (a new war, the world is in danger, a crime is committed)
- The protagonist takes action to meet a related goal (prevent the war, save the world, solve the crime)
Here it is stated a different way. Fill in the blanks:
(protagonist’s name) is a (description of protagonist) But when (incident) happens, (protagonist name) must (name an action) in order to (state the goal).
I used this format for my pair of upcoming books. Each begins with the protagonist, touches on a description of what they are, something that happens, and what they must do. In the first blurb, I chose the hero. In the second, it was the heroine.
At the Mercy of Her Pleasure
Professional thief Senth Antonello is hired to retrieve a stolen prototype for which the imperial armada has already killed twice. When Senth’s brother is kidnapped to ensure the device is surrendered, Senth must rescue his brother, outsmart the armada, and keep the item out of imperial hands. All doable, except for one small problem. Senth must accomplish it in the company of a genetically altered woman whose pheromones could enhance the mission or crumble it into dust with a single siren kiss.
For Women Only
When Kin Ambassador Mehfawni visits the capitol planet of the Tarthian Empire, she meets the human Khyff, a security expert with the company For Women Only. Fawni expects a fling, but finds love. Upon discovering her own people devastated Khyff’s family, she longs to restore all he lost, but some tragedies can never be reversed. Her family demands she cast out the human, for if she keeps Khyff, she must deny her heritage and abdicate her future rule. When Fawni searches for an alternative, she stumbles upon Khyff’s darkest secret, a cover-up that if exposed, will betray her world to its enemies, and bare her family to open shame. But how can she leave him to suffer in the darkness that binds his heart?
No Dumb Questions
This brings me to another important aspect of blurb writing. Never ask a question the reader can answer without reading your book. Don’t ask if the couple can find happiness, overcome odds, or work their way through trials. If it’s a romance, a happy-ever-after is a given. Instead, ask leading questions that do not have yes or no answers. Here are some examples, with rewrites to show how to make them better.
WEAK: Can John and Mary overcome their differences and find true love?
BETTER: To find true love, how can John and Mary overcome the differences that have separated them for a lifetime?
WEAK: Will the love of a good man heal Mary’s broken heart?
BETTER: The love of a good man could heal Mary’s broken heart, but first she has to decide which of the three men courting her that is. What’s a woman to do?
WEAK: Can Mary find love, or has she given up on being happy ever again?
BETTER: Mary had given up on being happy ever again, until she found John. Now if only she can make him believe her love is real before it’s too late.
You don’t have to ask a question, but you do have to make the reader want to know more.
How Long is a Blurb?
Whittle down the concept of the story until you have the basics. Give people the big idea in a few sentences. When I wrote my Tales of the Chosen trilogy about the lovers of immortals, I wrote the blurbs before I even started the books. Each blurb had three words and a sentence that ended with the word “forever.”
Wulf: Lust. Power. Forgiveness. A Chosen loves forever.
Alitus: Passion. Submission. Loyalty. A Chosen bares his heart forever.
Jawk: Pleasure. Trust. Possession. A Chosen’s betrayal is forever.
Practice Giving Your Speech
Write out and memorize your blurb before you attend the next conference. If you’ll be meeting an agent or two, be ready to say it for them. Try this on for size. Shake the agent’s hand, look them in the eye, and say, “I’m here to tell you about (your title).” And then go right into your blurb.
The next time someone says, “What’s your book about?” don’t panic. Take a deep breath. This is your moment. You’ve prepared, and you know your blurb.
A blurb is supposed to grab ’em, tell ’em, and make ’em want more. Writing a good one won’t be easy, but neither was writing the book. You came this far. You’re an author. You can do this.
RU Writers, are you headed to RWA? Do you have a blurb ready to go?
Join us on Friday for Stefanie London’s post – Who Said That?
Bio: Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Unstoppable Heroes Blog http://kayelleallen.com/blog
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