Part of the Pitch Slapped Series:
Because let’s face it. Blurbs can make or break a book’s sales, especially if the reader hasn’t heard about the author before. The list of my own impulse reads that are based solely on pretty covers and nifty blurbs stretches a mile and a half long. A strong blurb is a must for query letters and getting the book read.
But sometimes, you need an in before you can share your story’s blurb. Maybe you’re walking into a used bookstore with a copy of your novel. Or maybe you’re sending out emails to likely-seeming reviewers. In our last Pitch Slapped installment, we talked about Tenant 572: Don’t Apologize For Your Book. ( No-one likes to be handed a slice of cake with a long list of everything that may-or-may-not be wrong with it. )
But in comments on the post, DebE pointed out there’s also the other extreme that’s just as bad.
When told not to apologize, it’s easy to overcompensate and announce that your book is the best thing since the invention of Mango Lassi and smoked gouda. You know that’s a high bar, but maybe it’ll get people reading.
Instead, it usuall splits most of your potential readership into three camps:
- The people who get annoyed and dismiss your book out of hand.
- Those contrary people who want to prove you wrong.
- Friends who are obliged by Law of Friendship and Relation to read and like your book.
So if you’re not allowed to be horribly humble nor annoyingly arrogant, what’s the middle ground?
…an upbeat and positive attitude about your book. You know it’s worth the reader’s time (because otherwise, why did you publish it?) and you want to let them know about it.
Upbeat, positive, and confident? That can mean anything. Let’s break it down into specifics.
1. Stick to the facts.
When describing your story, stick to the who, what, why of the plot to catch your reader’s interest. If you’re going to talk about your influences, avoid explicit comparisons to other books. If you want to talk about themes or the style of the novel, stick as close as you can to value-free statements:
NO: “Terrifyingly intense and emotionally scarring psychological thriller!”
YES: “Psychological thriller.”
It’s the author’s job to write the story, and the reader’s to describe it to others. Which leads us to…
2. Delegate responsibility for compliments.
If it’s bad tone (arrogant) to wax lyrically about your own writing, have other people do it. As other people enjoy your stories, they will have good things to say about them. As you sell more copies, you will be able to refer to sale numbers to indicate quality (“see, other people like the book!”), and as you get more out there, use that to your advantage.
NO: “The World Beyond, The Best Science Novel Ever!”
YES: “The World Beyond, winner of the Fuzzies Best Science Novel award.”
Don’t have a Fuzzies BS award? That’s fine, look to your recent reviews. Don’t call your novel breathtakingly insightful–but if someone else has, use it. Cecilia Gray, for example, took a quote from our recent review, and posted it to her book’s page. Imagine if she’d tried to say that herself about her book–what a difference!
In the end, be friendly, be true to what you’ve written, and be confident in the fact that the book you wrote can stand on its own feet. It doesn’t need bells and whistles from you–it just needs you to tell it how it is.
Do you have a pitch or synopsis that you’d like to send to the sacrificial altar? Email it our way with the subject “Pitch Article Submission” at firstname.lastname@example.org.