Posts Tagged how to write a blurb
Your first pages – 5 more book openings critiqued at @Litopia by literary agent @agentpete , reader @kaylie_finn and me!
I’ve just guested again at Litopia, the online writers’ colony and community. Each week they have a YouTube show, Pop-Up Submissions, where five manuscripts are read and critiqued live on air by literary agent Peter Cox @agentpete and a guest, or sometimes two. This time the other guest was one of Litopia’s longtime members Kaylie Finn, who knows her way around a critique.
The format is simple. Five manuscripts, each with a short blurb. We hear the opening pages, then discuss how they’re working – exactly as agents and commissioning editors would consider a submission. And there’s now an added goody – each month, the submission with the most votes is fast tracked to the independent publisher Head of Zeus, and several writers have already been picked up after appearing on the show. (So we take our critiquing very seriously… no pressure.)
As always, the submissions had many strengths. And also much to teach us. Issues we discussed were unfortunate connotations in names, how to make fantasy ‘special’ enough, what signals a blurb gives about tone and genre, whether a blurb is misleading, how a title sets up expectations, whether a prologue is a good idea or an unnecessary distraction, how much exposition to include in a first scene, when we might need more explanation in a first scene, when action might be confusing, how much you need to explain when your story world is a well known historical event, and tricky considerations when writing in dialect.
Enjoy! And if you’ve got a manuscript you’d like critiqued, apply here.
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This is a task of mad proportions – and a question that will resonate with any writer who is stuck in the throes of a pitch or blethering through a blurb. Or is simply trying to fathom what their own darn book is about.
This weekend I’m celebrating the anniversary of the launch of My Memories of a Future Life. And since the story explores reincarnation in reverse, I thought I’d turn the Undercover Soundtrack inside out. I’m inviting two musicians whose work has featured on book trailers in past posts to share how they pack an entire novel into a teensy song.
2. Stuff that into three paragraphs or so.
3. Don’t leave out anything important.
Welcome to summarising your book for the back cover or for pitching to an agent.
A few of you may well remember the frantic email sessions last summer as we batted ideas back and forth for my novel’s flap copy. I proved that despite having written a reasonably lucid novel, I was entirely incapable of distilling it into a suitable blurb. I think it took six weeks, several false starts and wrong turnings – many of which I didn’t want to abandon because they’d been hard enough. Did three paragraphs ever cause such anguish?
Anyway, I learned a lot in the process, and today I’m at the blog of paranormal author Jami Gold, sharing all my tips.
One of those tips is to not become too attached to the wrong soundbite. Boy, I nearly hobbled myself there. You can see my blurb outtakes at Jami’s lovely blog, but in the meantime I thought it would be fun to share here some wrong blurbing that we’ve done.
Tell me, in the comments, the blurb or pitch you had to junk – and why it was soooooo wrong. I look forward to sharing your pain…