Thoughts about blurbs

I'm starting to work on covers and blurbs for my next novel, which has the working Title, The Atheist's Tale. It is the story of a group of college students who decide to get to the bottom of the question of religion.

 

For the blurb, I have two ideas. One is to introduce some characters and give teasers about their roles in this drama, like this:

 

Sarah Miller would like to spend her college years undisturbed by Christians and superstitions. Alicia Marlowe would like to know the truth about God. Nick Carlson dreams of a world without religion. Brittany Salzburg wants the world to know what God has done for her. Professor Winter wants his dreams to make more sense. Doctor Marcion dreams of a world without Professor Winter.

Is it possible that so many people, moving in so many directions, can discover and reveal the truth about religion and its place in a modern world?

 

Alternatively, I am considering throwing in a few paragraphs from one of the scenes and seeing if they will grab the readers' attention:

 

“There are three things that are never satisfied;” Solomon  began,” and four that never say, ‘enough.’ But we shall speak of only one of these tonight: The grave.”  His grin became serious. “What does a man gain, if he spends his life in the most majestic of pursuits, only to die and be forgotten?” He paused, looking to his fellow panelists for comments and support. 

 

Jack cleared his throat. “If I may,” he said, gesturing with the empty pipe, “The Romans had a saying, Memento Mori. It means ‘Remember, you shall die.’ Now, we cannot completely know what it meant to them…”

 

“It means that this obscene life is an obscene joke!” shouted Franz. “It means that our high philosophical traditions come from the pig sty! That’s what drives a man: Base ambitions and lusts!”

 

“Franz!” remonstrated Leo, putting his hand on Franz’ arm.

 

Thoughts, comments, war stories?

 

Blue blurb, or green blurb? Right format, wrong content? General ideas? Specific Ideas?

Comments

  • My total gut reaction is the first (blue) post. I feel an instant connection to the characters from the one tease of each you provide. This pulls me in, as I want to know why Dr. Marcion wants to get rid of Professor Winter, and why Sarah is being disturbed by religion. The blue blurb presents an array of questions (which the book proposes to answers/consider). I really like this style of blurb.

     

    The green blurb works. It introduces the idea and there's a sense of life from the dialog, but I'm less hooked. 

  • I too prefer the blue one.

     

    I hate writing the Descriptions because it's not easy to not give away the plot.

     

    Some people get carried away and almost write a full synopsis as a Description, which should never be done.

  • The first one feels like the list goes on and on. I think it could be rewritten with the same idea. Second one, I tuned out completely.

     

     

  • Maybe do not mention their names, just say their standpoint, from one extreme to the other. And keep this:

     

    Is it possible that so many people, moving in so many directions, can discover and reveal the truth about religion and its place in a modern world?

     

    Effective title.

  • Or. Just a suggestion:

     

    The Atheist's Take

     

    As in point of view, but also they take belief out of belief. Leading to emptiness. Nothing exists therefore nothing exists.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    I did have some other thoughts on titles:

     

    The Atheist's Tale
    The God of Science
    God and the Term Paper
    A Divine Appointment

     

    But I like the first one best.

     

    Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. It affirms my own feeling on the question.

     

  • The blue blurb is a sketch, hence the repetitive style. Instead of a captive audience, you've got a captive set of characters. Yes, something should come out of it since they have to eventually come to term, and tell one another stories to while away the time. as in the Decameron, the Heptameron, the Cantorbery Tales, etc.

     

    The green blurb is good because readers can see the story has started, and they will want to know more if they are interested in this theme. 

  • To me, your novel calls for a title like Mr. Death's Term Test.

  • Have you noticed how many classic book titles often have little obvious to do with the contents?

     

    http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org/booklists/?id=classics

     

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/oct/12/features.fiction

     

    That possibly draws the conclusion that the Description is more important.

     

    There's these also >>  http://flavorwire.com/230294/25-original-and-rejected-titles-of-classic-books

     

    Which perhaps proves that some are not good at making up titles!

     

    Or it could be that those classics gained 100s of good reviews in respected journals.

     

    Have you also noticed that when an author becomes well-known their name becomes larger than the title?

     

    There's more to this book selling business than meets the eye.

     

    There's a lot of advice on-line about writing descriptions, this is just one >>  http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/10/05/the-11-ingredients-of-a-sizzling-book-description/

     

    It's about an ebook, but I don't think that matters.

     

     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    The blue blurb is a sketch, hence the repetitive style. Instead of a captive audience, you've got a captive set of characters. Yes, something should come out of it since they have to eventually come to term, and tell one another stories to while away the time. as in the Decameron, the Heptameron, the Cantorbery Tales, etc.

     

    The green blurb is good because readers can see the story has started, and they will want to know more if they are interested in this theme. 


    The working title was intended to pay homage to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

     

    This is not so much a series of stories -- Hopefully I've made it a single cohesive plot, though it does encompass many strands.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    To me, your novel calls for a title like Mr. Death's Term Test.


    HA!

     

    I like it, though it fails Em_Press' "kill the poet" test, And a few of my readers would be disappointed that Death was not a character.

     

    Though it wouldn't be a bad theme for another book, perhaps...

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    Kevin, you make a good point about titles, and I see where you're going with it.

     

    It is true that once a writer makes a name for himself, the title is secondary to the blurb, or even to the Author's Name. A person who likes one Dick Francis story will likely enjoy nearly all of them, or at least be willing to give them a go. John Grisham could write a story and title it "The Mud Puddle" or "The Trash Bin" and it would capture as many readers as some of his earlier and more provocative works.

     

    And many authors do write cryptic titles. "Bonfire of the Vanities" does not in any way suggest a drunk driver running over a homeless man. "Tough Guys Don't Dance" is not about tough guys or dancing. Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" is not about geometry, or beginnings; nothing in the title suggests life in a somewhat relaxed Soviet Prison.

     

    These writers can get away with it because they've written other stories that have created a readership for them. If Mailer's "Tough Guys Don't Dance" had consisted of the phrase "All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy" typed over and over for three hundred pages, he still would have made the best-seller list with it (though possibly never again thereafter). We, however, do not have that luxury.

     

    By contrast, here's a survey of titles within eyesight of me right now:

     

    Dick Francis' Enquiry, which is about a jockey who faces a horse race enquiry.

    Aaron Elkin's Old Bones, which is a mystery involving ... old bones...

    Dick Francis' Shattered, which is a mystery involving glassblowers.

    G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, which is about his path to an orthodox faith.

    Sue Grafton's E is for Evidence which is the fifth mystery in her series, and is about... Evidence.

    Rex Stout's Under the Andes, which is about explorers in an underground civilization beneath Peru.

    Steig Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is about... a young woman... with a tattoo... (and a magazine and abuse of authority and a lot of other things...)

     

    I would say that many of these meet Em_Press' criteria of "Killing the poet." Francis, Grafton, and even Elkins could have been much more flowery in their titles -- and my favorite Elkins book is A Wicked Slice, which is a murder mystery involving golf -- but they showed restraint, killed the poet, and made effective, simple, titles.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym ✭✭✭

    I forgot to mention one of my all-time favorite titles:

     

    An Arsonist's Guide To Writer's Homes in New England, the humorous story of a man who, as a teen, was convicted of burning down Emily Dickenson's house / museum. A funny story, with a remarkably descriptive title.

  • Kevin, you make a good point about titles, and I see where you're going with it.

     

    It is true that once a writer makes a name for himself, the title is secondary to the blurb, or even to the Author's Name. A person who likes one Dick Francis story will likely enjoy nearly all of them, or at least be willing to give them a go. John Grisham could write a story and title it "The Mud Puddle" or "The Trash Bin" and it would capture as many readers as some of his earlier and more provocative works.

     

    Indeed they could, and those titles could say just as little about the contents than some of their existing titles.

     

    And many authors do write cryptic titles. "Bonfire of the Vanities" does not in any way suggest a drunk driver running over a homeless man. "Tough Guys Don't Dance" is not about tough guys or dancing. Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" is not about geometry, or beginnings; nothing in the title suggests life in a somewhat relaxed Soviet Prison.

     

    Some writers borrow lines from well-known poetry and such like for titles.

     

    These writers can get away with it because they've written other stories that have created a readership for them. If Mailer's "Tough Guys Don't Dance" had consisted of the phrase "All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy" typed over and over for three hundred pages, he still would have made the best-seller list with it (though possibly never again thereafter).

     

    An interesting thing I learned about getting reviews for products (and books are products) is that if one pays for a large advert in some periodical, it will give one's product a good review, often without even seeing it  ...

     

    We, however, do not have that luxury.

     

    Very true, but there's also many well-published writers who have a decent fan-base following, but a majority of people may never have heard of them. It's not just unknowns who have that problem, but at least the former are selling a lot of books!

     

    By contrast, here's a survey of titles within eyesight of me right now:

     

    Dick Francis' Enquiry, which is about a jockey who faces a horse race enquiry.

     

    But could be about a newspaper of that name. It's a good name for one! (Never read it so have no idea what it's about.)

     

    Aaron Elkin's Old Bones, which is a mystery involving ... old bones...

     

    Could be about age. (Ditto.)

     

    Dick Francis' Shattered, which is a mystery involving glassblowers.

     

    Could be about a mental breakdown. (Ditto.)

     

    G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, which is about his path to an orthodox faith.

     

    Could mean anything really. (Ditto.)

     

    Sue Grafton's E is for Evidence which is the fifth mystery in her series, and is about... Evidence.

     

    Ditto (ditto.)

     

    Rex Stout's Under the Andes, which is about explorers in an underground civilization beneath Peru.

     

    It would be harder to get plainer than that! (ditto.)

     

    Steig Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is about... a young woman... with a tattoo... (and a magazine and abuse of authority and a lot of other things...)

     

    Indeed! But also a film. (Ditto.)

     

    I am of course aware of some of those writers and they usually always write about the some subject, so their fan-base will be aware of that, regardless of the titles. Titles are handy for letting people know it's a different book, possibly a new one they have not yet read.

     

    I would say that many of these meet Em_Press' criteria of "Killing the poet." Francis, Grafton, and even Elkins could have been much more flowery in their titles -- and my favorite Elkins book is A Wicked Slice, which is a murder mystery involving golf -- but they showed restraint, killed the poet, and made effective, simple, titles.

     

    Times have changed drastically though. When people hit our sites there's a Description right in their face, and usually a Preview. When people had to go to a bookshop they had to pick up a book and read the back, then some of the story. That is if the spine interested them!

    What does seem to happen is the best seller lists are often full of recommended books. In the UK, for around 30 years, on morning 'magazine' TV, a couple would include a review of a book. Coincidentally that book and all the others they had reviewed also eventually became available for sale on a website, their own, which when they retired from TV is all they now run.

    A very well-known British Newspaper reviews books, and often also runs large adverts for them, and guess what? They can be bought from the newspaper's own book club website.

    Such things help, regardless of title.

    I have not once seen them promote a book by a self-publisher, though.

  • An Arsonist's Guide To Writer's Homes in New England, the humorous story of a man who, as a teen, was convicted of burning down Emily Dickenson's house / museum. A funny story, with a remarkably descriptive title.

     

    Well it says it like it is, and is a long title, but not as long as this >>>

     

       http://www.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_longest_book_title

Sign In or Register to comment.