Monday, March 18, 2019

Bad Blurbs in the Real World, Part 7

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 in italics are 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.  To learn how to figure out your genre, clink on this.  


Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Detective Luke McGinty has a closet filled with demons, along with a few skeletons; a steady job, but no steady partner or girlfriend; and is still married to his wife Sallie, even though she’s been dead for three years. Then his detective work takes a turn for the worse when a body is discovered at the downtown mall. One dead body isn’t enough, though, and another one turns up. When ties to a cold murder case in another county present themselves, Luke realizes that, if he doesn’t tread carefully, he could end up short more than just a few answers…

The first mistake is “closet filled with demons.”  These are figurative demons, not literal ones, but I thought literal until I looked at the book on Amazon.  Maybe that’s just me, but with a huge amount of paranormal mysteries and urban mysteries out there, I doubt I’d be the only one.  

The character building at the first is okay, but with so little space to explain the story, it would have been better to give more detail about the murders and the danger the detective seems to be facing. A mystery is first and foremost about the mystery.


“Take The Equalizer, give him Mike Hammer’s fists, throw in some Pulp Fiction-like dialogue, add a splash of Bogie-Bacall banter, and you get Titus—a hard-knuckled action hero for a new generation.’'

“They are the 21st Century version of Nick and Nora Charles with adventures that go around the world.” 

“Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work.”

Most people under the age of seventy probably don’t have a clue about a majority of these comparisons.  This is the perfect example of why I’m not a fan of comparisons.  It’s more miss than hit with a possible audience.  


A longtime friend has been arrested for driving drunk and causing a death. The friend also happens to be the District Attorney. Thaddeus agrees to meet. He learns about the DA's drinking. He learns that the DA's wife is on the prowl with strange men, and the DA is dangerously close to murder. Thaddeus sets out to defend. Two months in, he is savagely attacked. His office puts in a call to Christine Susmann. His old paralegal drops what she is doing and hurries to his side. Together again, Thaddeus and Christine mount their defense of the DA and mount their drive to bring Thaddeus back to health.

Would you read a book with such flat, blocky style?  I sure wouldn’t.  Plus, there’s no indication that the DA is being set up.  A drunk who kills someone isn’t someone I’d care about.  I’d root for the prosecution.


Dating in the city is hard. It’s too big. There are too many places to go. The clubs are too loud and the bars are too pretentious. It’s just so hard to make a connection, to find something real. Someone real...and it would all be so much easier if you could give it all up, but that’s the one thing you can’t do. So you have a choice, acquiesce to the enviable blind date from well-meaning friends and coworkers who just don’t get it or take matters into your own hands. Maybe if you play your card just right, you can do both.

No, I didn’t get the genre wrong.  It’s labeled urban fantasy/ superhero, but it has a romance blurb.  Talk about a disconnect.  Plus, urban fantasy and superhero stories are separate genres.  Here’s a hint.  Figure out what kind of book you are writing and who the readers are and aim the blurb at them.  Also, tell us about the book and its characters, don’t give the reader generalities.  


When a man seeks out an empath who he believes is hiding in a brothel in order to ease his daughter's suffering due to an alien infection, he soon discovers there's far more to the virus than he'd ever considered possible. 

Make that first sentence stop!  Please make it stop!  Bad writing in a blurb is not the way to attract readers.


Her husband stole her baby, beat her up, and tossed her out in the snow. She hunted for her daughter for years. She came to Atlanta on a vague clue and instead found the dead body of a girl. Is it her long lost daughter? Find out now.

The book’s title is SOMEBODY ELSE’S DAUGHTER.  Nothing says suspense like a question that is answered before it is asked.  (Sarcasm)  The summary’s punctuation is poor.  Also, when you have a sentence with a list of verbs, it’s best to list them in order of action.  In other words, “beat her up,” “tossed her out,” then “stole baby.”  And nothing says poor blurb writing like “Find out now.”  


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No, I didn’t forget to insert the blurb.  Sometimes, authors don’t place a blurb with the book cover in promotional material or free ebook newsletters.  A bad blurb is better than no blurb, at all.  If you want someone to, at the very least, look at your book, insert a blurb.

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