To Blurb or not to Blurb, that is the question. Thing is though, this is something we authors have to do. So is praising the work of another author an art form, a transparent appreciation society, or a necessary evil?
‘An esteemed, formidable figure in the literary world …” “A slit your wrist satire . . .” “Historical Fiction just found a new master . . .” “Brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced.”
A tower of complimentary adjectives aside, these quotations have been lifted from both fiction and non-fiction books because there really is nothing new under the sun. Chances are, the reader will carefully scan the cover and then be wooed by the well-chosen sales pitch into thinking the humble book is a piece of staggering genius. This is the function of the blurb. Or if you prefer, a promotional teaser.
And can blurbs from best-selling authors boost sales? I believe this is a moot point. There are other factors that contribute to the purchase of a book. Come hither covers, media reviews and word-of-mouth to mention a few. Especially the latter.
A blurb can also include quotes from reviewers, excerpts from the book and a summary of the plot. In no more than a few words mind, or you risk boring the pants off the reader who might otherwise have been tempted to flip the book over and read the first page. We don’t want them becoming immune to the allure of words like ‘laughter-through-tears, masterly, gripping, can’t-put-it-down, this book’s got something for everyone, intense’ otherwise it becomes a mulch of meaningless commendations from unlikely sources.
To encourage young adults (or anyone for that matter) to read good literary fiction it might be advisable to keep it simple. Here’s one that needs no introduction.
Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun.
Suzanne Collins certainly knows how to keep her readers obsessed whilst generating constant suspense. If her books sales are anything to go by, she clearly succeeded in supplying the blurb of the century for her genre.
Happy Christmas everyone. And happy blurbing.