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Back cover Blurb

Greetings all, things are coming along for my novel, Call Numbers. I've been fortunate to find a few beta readers and I'm still querying agents. I recently had someone on Fiverr write a blurb for my back cover, but I feel it's kind of long and the only way to fit it all would be small print. I would like some input from the forum.

The tagline on the top would be: "The Not so quiet life of Librarians."

Life is a book… and every person is a chapter.
            Everything’s looking up for Robin Walker. It’s 1994 in New York City, and he’s been transferred downtown to the 58th Street Library. Ready to move up the ladder, Robin is excited about the opportunities that await him.

            But his future is about to crash into a group of strangers that will change his life forever. There’s his supervisor, Sonyai Yi, who wants Robin gone because she promised his position to branch page Janelle Simms for reasons Sonyai can’t reveal. Meanwhile, she’s involved in a simmering feud with head librarian Augustus Chavez. And within both camps are people who seek to overthrow their leader through backstabbing and betrayal.

            Meanwhile, another group of library employees decides to remain neutral. Information Assistant-in-training Angie Trueblood attends night school, like Robin, so she can one day become a head librarian. And a few branch pages focus their attention on Robin himself, in very different ways. There’s Alex Stevens, who hates Robin as much as Janelle does. But there’s also Lakeshia Seabrooke, who develops a surprising crush on Robin despite their age difference.

            Robin is forced to handle everything on his plate, but everything keeps piling up. Aside from his volatile work situation and attending night school, he must also deal with his ailing grandfather. Robin finds solace in his old college friends, whose misadventures bring him perilously close to a tantalizing Asian student who he wants to get closer to.

            But success, personal or professional, is as elusive as a first-edition rare book. Robin struggles with his strange new work environment, as this motley crew of employees generates more drama than a runaway bestseller. He doesn’t know who to believe – or who to let in. And as potential romance mingles with devious machinations, there’s no telling where Robin’s story will go. All he knows is that he must see it through to the very last page.

            Call Numbers is a captivating and multilayered adult drama. Through realistic dialogue and situations, author Syntell Smith has crafted a modern-day classic about the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Because a library is usually the last place you’d expect high drama… but for these characters, it’s long overdue.

Comments

  • Just my two cents, SyntellSmith:
    1. Personally, I would never read a blurb that long when shopping for a book. Thirty seconds' read time (maximum) is about my limit. If it doesn't grab me in a short few seconds I'll walk on by.
    2. If I need reading glasses to see the fine print, I'll walk on by.
    3. There is too much information presented about the details of the story and its characters. The reader will learn these details when they read the story.

    I vote keep the first and last paragraphs of the blurb and drop the rest so you can use larger print, but I'm just an amateur so my opinion doesn't carry much weight.

  • Don't knock your advice, that sounds perfect, and it looks better on the back. Thanks BlueAndGold.
  • I agree. Delete one or two paragraphs, leaving only the barest ones that give the reader something enticing enough to want the book. To be honest I rarely read the blurbs on books. I look at the cover then inside. But if it's online you do need that blurb to get their attention after the cover.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    It's hard to write back cover blurb, because it has to grab peoples' interest, without giving too much away. It is also not easy because like adverts, it needs to be short and to grab instantly, and yours is more like a synopsis for sending to a potential publishing house, and to be honest, I did not read it, I just looked at how long it is.
  • Syntell, I agree with the others. It's good, but there's too much of it.

    I'd cut it down something like this:

    Life is a book… and every person is a chapter.
                Everything’s looking up for Robin Walker. It’s 1994 in New York City, and he’s been transferred downtown to the 58th Street Library. Ready to move up the ladder, Robin is excited about the opportunities that await him.
                But his future is about to crash into a group of strangers that will change his life forever. Robin is forced to handle everything on his plate, but everything keeps piling up. Aside from his volatile work situation and attending night school, he must also deal with his ailing grandfather.
    All he knows is that he must see it through to the very last page.

    You might need to tweak a thing or two to make those sentences flow smoothly, but you need to set a strict -- STRICT! -- limit, such as a net gain of no more than eight words, maximum.

    Best of luck -- the hardest part is knowing what to cut. Let us know when it's in print.
  • wildwindwildwind Publisher

    I don't understand: you are querying agents and yet at the same time you are paying someone to write a blurb. It seems as though you have already started down the - more realistic - route to self publishing; it might be wise to dedicate your efforts to that.

    Is what you posted what you received from the person on Fivrr? This is not a blurb. Blurb writing is a specialized skill and one that would be well worth learning. Whenever I want to learn a new skill I buy a book which will teach me what I need to know. It would be worth spending a dollar or two on an ebook which will give you the skills you need to create an effective blurb.

    A blurb is a hook. It catches the attention of the potential reader without revealing too much. Aim for about 100 to 150 words.


  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    I agree with the others. Why are you paying someone to write a back cover blurb for a book that you are planning to circulate among agents and publishers? (And you should try to get your money back. What you got was a synopsis, not a blurb.) As Wildwind rightly says, a blurb should be no more than 100-150 words, if that.

    I do have to disagree with Wildwind when they say that self-publishing is the more realistic route to take. If your goal is to simply see your book in print or listed on Amazon, then perhaps that is the way to go. But there are so many advantages to being traditionally published that it is worth the effort to give it a fair shot before turning to self-publishing. Among these advantages are: An up-front payment (the advance), which is yours to keep even if the book never sells a single copy. The dedicated services of professional, experienced editors and copy editors. The services of professional designers and artists. The services of an experienced marketing and advertising team. This includes getting copies of your book into the hands of reviewers and arranging things like radio and TV interviews. And, usually, the benefits of an established and well-organized distribution network. These are all things that the self-published author---if they want their book to be competitive, let alone taken seriously---has to either pay for out of their own pocket or try to learn to do from scratch. Which is kind of like deciding to build your own car instead of buying one, in spite of having neither experience nor ability in engineering, mechanics, welding, machining, tool and die making, sheet metal fabrication, electrical work, electronics, etc. etc. etc.

    I might add that there is also the advantage of being able to move on to your next book instead of having to devote all of your time and effort to promoting and marketing your last one. 

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with self-publishing---it is the best course to take for many types of books---but you should give traditional publishing a fair chance before deciding to take on the task yourself.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • SyntellSmithSyntellSmith Writer
    edited October 7
    I'm still on the fence when it comes to Traditional vs. Self-publishing. The process of querying literary agents has really left a bad taste in my mouth, I feel they're holding people back, almost like gatekeepers, filters, or screeners preventing writers from getting their shot.

    I mean, who is this person to say, "No, this is an unmarketable book, no one will read it, it's not worth putting out there." Do they represent all the readers out there? Who made them an authority? For publishers not to accept unsolicited, unrepresented manuscripts at all...this wasn't always the way. I feel a lot of great writers were discouraged and never had their work made public due to the short-sightedness of some jerk who never made it as a writer themselves.

    I do my research, I check MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) read and listen to interviews of what literary agents want, and it's such dribble. And most on MSWL are junior agents with little or no experience, asking for mindless commercial-type works, "Send me Witches, Send me YA LGBT, Send me MG Contemporary, Send me this, send me that!" like they're ordering from McDonald's. I read profiles of updated Agents re-opening to submissions and they want something different, something unique, but then they ask for the same mundane Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Erotica, tropes that are saturating the market.

    So yes, while I'm still querying agents and doing research, I'm also preparing for the possibility of self-publishing, I'm looking on fiverr at editors, cover template makers, ebook and print book formaters, while preparing to buy my first group of ISBN's. I have three finished manuscripts dedicated to this series alone, and several other projects half done, Call Numbers Book 1 has been polished and ready, Book 2 will be edited as well and I plan to publish them within 9-15 months apart and take it from there.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    I'm still on the fence when it comes to Traditional vs. Self-publishing. The process of querying literary agents has really left a bad taste in my mouth, I feel they're holding people back, almost like gatekeepers, filters, or screeners preventing writers from getting their shot.

    I mean, who is this person to say, "No, this is an unmarketable book, no one will read it, it's not worth putting out there." Do they represent all the readers out there? Who made them an authority? For publishers not to accept unsolicited, unrepresented manuscripts at all...this wasn't always the way.

    It is still not the way. Certainly not universally. A very large number of publishers, including some of the largest, welcome unsolicited submissions. (For instance, Baen Books, one of the largest publishers of science fiction in the US, does not require that submissions be through an agent.) All one has to do is consult the latest updates to Writer's Market to find out what a publisher's submission requirements are. The idea that an agent is an absolute necessity is a pervasive one and one that is not entirely true. I have just seen my 60th commercially published book appear (from Smithsonian Books)...and out of all of those only two went through an agent.

    I feel a lot of great writers were discouraged and never had their work made public due to the short-sightedness of some jerk who never made it as a writer themselves.

    Well, that does smack of sour grapes. 

    I do my research, I check MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) read and listen to interviews of what literary agents want, and it's such dribble. And most on MSWL are junior agents with little or no experience, asking for mindless commercial-type works, "Send me Witches, Send me YA LGBT, Send me MG Contemporary, Send me this, send me that!" like they're ordering from McDonald's. I read profiles of updated Agents re-opening to submissions and they want something different, something unique, but then they ask for the same mundane Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Erotica, tropes that are saturating the market.

    Frankly, you would be better off skipping MSWL. Again, your best bet would be to consult the list of agents published by Writer's Market. Through its cross-indexing, you can go directly to those agents or agencies who are most interested in the kind of work you do. But you may also want to discover those publishers who would be interested in your type of book and who also accept unsolicited MSS.



    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I'm still on the fence when it comes to Traditional vs. Self-publishing.

    The thing about self-publishing is that it can happen NOW. Just do it.

    The process of querying literary agents has really left a bad taste in my mouth, I feel they're holding people back, almost like gatekeepers, filters, or screeners preventing writers from getting their shot.

    They are not holding people back. As we have said a dozen times to people on here. They know exactly what publishers are after, and they are not going to waste their time with anything they know they cannot generate an interest for. They get a commission on success do not forget. So yes, in a way you are right. They are 'filters.'

    I mean, who is this person to say, "No, this is an unmarketable book, no one will read it, it's not worth putting out there."

    That's a strange thing to say because that is their job. Aim the same sort of accusation at a surgeon (to do with surgery of course) and then realise how daft it sounds.

     Do they represent all the readers out there?

    They represent writers. They have no need to represent readers, because the people who create books to sell, the publishers, know their market inside out, and the agents know what they want.

     Who made them an authority?

    Who made pilots able to fly planes?

    For publishers not to accept unsolicited, unrepresented manuscripts at all...this wasn't always the way.

    It has been for as long as I can recall. The key word there is Unsolicited.

     I feel a lot of great writers were discouraged and never had their work made public due to the short-sightedness of some jerk who never made it as a writer themselves.

    Really? and how would you know that? if they were never published? BTW, many commissioning editors working for publishing houses were, or still are, also writers in their own right.

    I do my research, I check MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) read and listen to interviews of what literary agents want, and it's such dribble.

    What makes you an expert on it then?

    And most on MSWL are junior agents with little or no experience, asking for mindless commercial-type works, "Send me Witches, Send me YA LGBT, Send me MG Contemporary, Send me this, send me that!" like they're ordering from McDonald's.

    You do realise that most agents and publishers specialise? But do you know what they desire? Books that they know will sell as many as possible, and they often discover that by viewing trends on places like Amazon. It IS commercial. They are in the business of selling as many books as they can, so they will publish what they know is already popular.

     I read profiles of updated Agents re-opening to submissions and they want something different, something unique, but then they ask for the same mundane Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Erotica, tropes that are saturating the market.

    Yes, they want something unique in those areas, obviously.

    So yes, while I'm still querying agents and doing research, I'm also preparing for the possibility of self-publishing, I'm looking on fiverr at editors, cover template makers, ebook and print book formaters, while preparing to buy my first group of ISBN's.

    Do you not like free ones?

     I have three finished manuscripts dedicated to this series alone, and several other projects half done,

    Publish it then.


    Call Numbers Book 1 has been polished and ready, Book 2 will be edited as well and I plan to publish them within 9-15 months apart and take it from there.

    I have to be honest, but you sound bitter that you even have to consider self-publishing. But I also notice that you have not read many threads that already cover the subject of agents and publishers, or you would not be saying what you say.

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