Monday, April 11, 2016

Bad Blurbs in the Real World

A book description or back cover blurb is the third-best promotion you have.  (The first is name recognition, the second the cover.)  The first two may get a reader to glance at your offering, but a good or bad blurb can make or break the sale.  

I receive a number of ebook promotion emails like BookBuzz and Fussy Librarian, and some of the book blurbs have been so bad that I’ve started collecting them.  

Here are a few with the author and book title removed to protect the incompetent.  My comments beneath each one.

NOTE:  To see how to write a good blurb, please read my article on the subject or do a search of my blog with the term “blurb” for links in my “Links of Interest” articles.


Sadie’s perfect life is upended when a handsome and mysterious boy insists on protecting her. Who is this young man with the captivating green eyes?   Young adult.  

Generic.  Defining the threat would make this a much stronger blurb. Oh, and most heroes and heroines are good-looking so why waste the few words you’re allowed by stating the obvious.  


Ana Deschanel made a terrible mistake. The only chance of protecting the other people involved is to flee New Orleans, the only home she has ever known, for the quiet solitude of Summer Island. Summer Island, Maine (population 202) is not the tranquil escape Ana imagined. The locals are distant and cold, especially her neighbor, the reclusive veterinarian Jonathan St. Andrews. Her only lifeline is the kind but odd caretaker, Alex Whitman. Showing up at all the right moments, he warns her she is completely unprepared for a Maine winter. As the first seasonal storm approaches to whispers of an island shutdown, Ana realizes she may soon be cut off from the rest of the world. After a surprising encounter with Jonathan’s brother, Finn, Ana finds herself braving the storm to return something to him. Unprepared for the Maine storm, she slips and falls onto the jagged rocks along the shore …  Thriller.

Is this a thriller or a romantic suspense?  Too much time is spent on the possible romantic interests, not enough on the threat.  And a threat in a thriller isn’t going splat from a fall.  


Michael Reznik is a soldier who wakes up in a mysterious underground bunker, with a technologically advanced body he doesn't recognize. The people around him have cast aside fighting and warfare. They haven't needed them -- until now. Reznik is charged with tracking down a band of ruthless killers and finding a kidnapped doctor. He finds himself honor-bound to do what is right for the people who brought him back from the dead. A peaceful people are depending on him to do what is right. Can he live up to their expectations, even when he finds out that his new body has an expiration date? Science fiction.  

Redundant words, grammar errors, repetitive phrases, and poor phrasing suck the life out of this blurb.   


After realizing his dream of teaching history in college, Kyle Small gets laid off and takes a job as a heavily armed security guard. He's just returning from his Thanksgiving holiday in which his brother Abe has visited him, when an epidemic strikes the plant where he works. Kyle must get back to his brother and then find refuge in a old Civil War fort for protection. Along the way they collect others and face the rising problems as they take the road to Macon. Young adult.

A person who has gone through years of college and has taught isn’t remotely a “young adult.”   Also, Kyle’s past jobs have nothing to do with his role in the zombie uprising.  The wording is very poor, as well.  


Twenty-seven year old Paul Williams is on the verge of becoming a multi-millionaire but fears any committed romance, while hiding behind a macho exterior. He meets Katie Fels, age twenty, who lives nearby in London and plans to become a barrister. Young adult.  

Yet another adult in a mislabeled genre. And “romance” doesn’t have “a macho exterior.”  Add to that the lack of hyphens in “twenty-seven-year-old.”  And the conflict is?  


She is different, unique, and one of a kind. Even in this weird new world. In a world ravaged by an inter-species war and almost devoid of Witches, she has to hide, keeping her heritage a secret. A highly trained assassin, she kills with impunity if the target deserves such a sentence. Unfortunately, far too many do. The lawlessness that stretches from coast to coast allowing unspeakable acts to go unpunished. Vampires, Werewolves, Demons, and a host of other species now run free upon the earth and some of them were downright evil. She tasks herself with dealing with wrongdoers whenever she can. She is strong, fearless and powerful. But can she take out the most powerful Vampire alive? Or is all not what it appears to be?  Paranormal romance.  

“She is different, unique, and one of a kind.”  Give this poor author a dictionary but don’t buy her book.  She also needs to say no to incomplete sentences, and yes to a good grammar book.


Two homicide detectives use a unique type of DNA search technique while pursuing a serial killer. The detectives become inseparable as they hunt the murderer.  Suspense.

Oh, the excitement of a new DNA technique.  Let me buy this book instantly.  But, wait, it must be a romance since they are inseparable.  Never mind.  


An abduction is just the beginning in a case of betrayal and revenge that will ultimately strike at the soul of the St. Paul Police Department. The ruggedly handsome Mac McRyan, a fourth-generation cop, is faced with a complicated brazen daytime kidnapping, a media storm surrounding the case, and political scrutiny. From the searing streets of St. Paul to the murky waters of the St. Croix River, (book name)  is a book you won't be able to put down until its last gripping minute.  Mystery.

“Ruggedly handsome” may work for a romance blurb, but it has no place in a straight mystery blurb.  


Humanities first encounter with an alien being gives rise to our first group of superheroes. Everyday humans who suddenly find themselves gifted with accelerated abilities as a result of the alien nano-technology that the alien was carrying. Maura Riley, a single mother in an abusive relationship, finds herself gifted with greater strength than she could have ever imagined possessing. But is that magnificent power enough to defend her loved ones, and her home world against an invading alien horde intent on reclaiming its run-away property; the incredibly powerful alien that Earth has come to adopt and name The First.  Thriller.

Poor grammar, punctuation, and run-on sentences.  “Thriller” is also a poor choice of genre.


Acclaimed writer (name removed) gives us a must read, thoughtful and compelling mystery about his region. Archeologist Frank Light makes find of his life find at controversial construction site. His feisty coworker Maggie says the relic is amazing. But both find their lives in peril from and unsuspected and murderous enemy. who wants the find destroyed at all costs including their lives.  Mystery.

Gibberish and poor descriptors. 

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