• ERIC BUTLER

What the blurb?!


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

As I inch closer to the release date on my first novel, The Shadow Within, I discover more fun and interesting things to do. I am self-publishing, so I do have to cover everything that would be handled by an agent or an actual publishing firm.


I have to get the book edited, formatted (for paperback and eBook), design a cover, file the proper paperwork, get the right files to the right publishing sites, and of course write a book. And while all of that seems and let's be honest, is quite overwhelming at times, I have found the most frustrating thing of them all...The Blurb!


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

The blurb is the 200 or so words you read on the back of the cover to see if you might be interested in reading. Today many of the blurbs you see are actually on the web page next to the book cover.


And according to some it might be more important than the book itself. I'm not one of those people. The blurb is never the singular factor in my decision to read the book. I take in the cover, the genre, and yes...the cursed blurb.


I have spent more time writing and rewriting the blurb than I did getting my DBA, my EIN, my copyright filed and getting set up to print on Amazon. I've almost decided when it's all said and done (and God willing I complete a blurb that people will find acceptable), I will have spent less time writing the actual book than the blurb.


There are many sites where a writer can go to get feedback and suggestions on an impressive amount of topics. The blurb even has its own Reddit.com section. It is here and on a few Facebook groups that allow for sharing of projects where I've had my blurbs ripped to shreds and crapped on.


My book is a horror novel. It is 80000+ words and I am required by law to explain it to you in no more than 200 words. There are rules to follow and if you even think of straying from the path, well you know...


So what have I learned about blurbs?

  • They need to convey genre, atmosphere, and basic plot points.

  • Without ever specifically naming the genre, comparing it to any other book, and those plot points better stay basic Mister! Except you can and are expected to all of those things around the blurb.

  • You need a hook, a killer first line (and every other line better at least wound someone), and you need to make sure you "engage the readers' sympathy or curiosity" (actual advice) of the main character to "convince the reader that they are going to care". - Did I mention this is 200 words?




Image by Dušan Smetana from Pixabay

So I wrote, and shared, and scrapped, and wrote, and shared, and scrapped and finally began to scream into the void...you get the picture. If not, here is a visual aid.


I received helpful hints, and not so helpful hints. Some people would use your question as a launching point to get help for their work. Some would tell you to get a hook, but not share where they might keep these at your favorite Mega-store. Some would point out a line or two that helped or hurt the blurb, and to those people, I say "Thank you". Others simply said trash it all, it's all garbage, or you're garbage - that last one might be me projecting.


One person told me my blurb sounded like a romance novel, and I didn't need anyone to tell me to ball that one up and throw it away. Then a few started to respond positively to my blurb. Instead of throwing everything away, I was allowed to keep a few words. Then they blessed me with a few lines. And then these kind souls (i.e. monsters) let me keep it all but a few words. "Tighten it up", "Less is more", "More is more", and of course "Where's your hook?"


Finally, I put out a blurb I felt followed the rules while breaking them and gave you more by being less and hooked you and maybe even threw you back...Am I doing this right?


I got some good feedback. People seemed to like it and after a final edit, I was feeling positive. I have my blurb. Then I did a final check on Reddit. A new message on the blurb page. This should be helpful as I polish this masterpiece of a blurb...

  1. This line needs to go - It is an evil of unending appetite.

  2. Too straightforward and plain.

  3. Honestly, you need to just start over.

  4. Here's a link to the same article you've read a million times. Follow its blueprint.

Great, back to the drawing board. I'm including the blurb in its current form. Let me know if you like it and what needs to be changed. After reading it, are you interested in reading the book? All of this will help as I move forward to publication. [This was written 10/20/19. I awoke this morning for even more helpful advice and so I am going to leave this in tact. I will include the new and improved blurb below last night's blurb. Which do you prefer?]


VERSION A


Centuries ago the natives captured and imprisoned a life force of pure evil and unending hunger. Thirteen years ago an eight-year-old boy woke the darkness. It grows in strength every day and now the boy is a man. A man skilled in terror and violence, the very things the darkness needs to finally break free.

Jill, a city girl at heart, was surprised when the car came to a stop. Jack wasn't kidding when he said they were going to the boonies. A family vacation, her with Jack and his teenage kids, was not her idea of fun but Jill was ready to take the next step. She wondered if this trip was Jack’s way to say he was ready as well.

As the man stalks through the countryside, unleashing panic and dread, will Jill be able to escape with Jack and his children? Or will the man soak the ground in blood and release…


The Shadow Within


VERSION B

A relentless evil possessing an already depraved man... gruesome and hideous acts of brutality... Will anyone survive?

Centuries ago the natives captured and imprisoned a life force of pure evil and unending hunger. Thirteen years ago an eight-year-old boy woke the darkness. It grows in strength every day and now the boy is a man. A man skilled in terror and violence, the very things the darkness needs to finally break free.

Jill, a city girl at heart, was surprised when the car came to a stop. Jack wasn't kidding when he said they were going to the boonies. A family vacation, her with Jack and his teenage kids, was not her idea of fun but Jill was ready to take the next step. She wondered if this trip was Jack’s way to say he was ready as well.

As the man stalks through the countryside, unleashing panic and dread, will Jill be able to escape with Jack and his children? Or will the man soak the ground in blood and release…


The Shadow Within

Discover a tale of horror in the terrifying debut by Eric Butler

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