Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Bad Book Blurbs

The blurb on the back cover or the inside sleeve of a book is supposed to draw you in and make you want to buy the book. It is supposed to be intriguing, giving you a flavour of the novel.

It is not supposed to be as follows:

A clearing deep inside a forest, somewhere near Luton, England. The place looked perfect for a quiet camping night, or as a place for romance, but right now it was not. Who were those twelve strangers? A group of rowdies, six strong, on one side of the place and a group of regular teenagers, also six strong on the other. Tension was in the air. None of the people moved very much, they kept their distance. Words were exchanged, strong statements, but no real threats, no gestures. Then suddenly… A knife… Thrown by one of the rowdies, aimed at one of the teenagers. A straight hit, directly into the shoulder. A cry. The teenager drops to his knees. And the rowdie already has another knife ready.

The situation looked hopeless for the teenagers, they for sure would run away now. But hold on, three of them step forward, guarding the others. They will for sure not stand a chance.

The next knife comes flying, aimed at one of the defenders. He pulls up his arms, cries, but not in pain, the knife is not there yet…

Silence falls on the clearing. What was that? The knife had just stopped in mid air and dropped to the ground a second later. A mishap? An illusion? Or pure luck?

Another one of the rowdies charges towards the teenagers. She looks twice the size than any of them. But wait, something is wrong again. How did she end up on the ground? Tossed through the air, as if she was hit by a rocket. And now. The teenager pushing his friend out of harms way. Look at his speed. Thats not normal either.

What’s going on there? Who are those people? Is this trickery? Or is it magic?

That is the blurb I received from a book offered for review. Can you come up with worse? Would you honestly read this book if you read that blurb?

It just goes to show that every little point in book publishing has to be carefully considered in order to make a book stand out for all the right reasons. A good book blurb can have a person reaching for their hard-earned cash. A bad book blurb can have you telling ALL your friends about this terrible book you heard about.

What do you need to see in book blurbs for you to pick up that book and buy it?


  1. This reads like an Old Spice TV ad!

    A blurb for me needs to be sparse, economical and intriguing, without giving away ANY major plot points from anything beyond the first 20 or so pages of the book.

  2. Oh my god. that's terrible. LOL

    The least of which is it takes place in Luton?! I wouldn't go to Luton again if someone paid me. That place was sketchy.

    But yeah, that's not really a synopsis so much as a very POORLY written scene. I'm baffled that anyone would think that would draw the reader in.

  3. Too many questions, not enough reason given to ask the questions in the first place. An amateur mistake, I think. Asking questions to hook people seems like a good idea, but usually only if you've made the situation or the characters interesting enough to care about in the first place.

  4. This is my favorite blurb I've ever received

    "Eric Thompson’s wolf howl can ruin electronics and send aircraft tumbling from the sky. Considered dangerous even by his fellow Sazi, Eric has become a lone wolf, living in self-imposed isolation. Yet when the very foundations of Sazi life come under attack, Eric knows he must defend his fellow shapeshifters at any cost.

    Attacked by a band of vicious Sazi, Holly Sanchez should have died. Instead, she survives, emerging as a powerful Sazi healer. Sent to return Eric to the Sazi world he rejected, Holly finds herself by his side as the lone wolf tracks the monster that is killing the Sazi. Holly soon realizes she must make a choice—between a Sazi life with Eric, and life as a “normal” human being. But first, she must survive long enough to make that choice—and she must save her people, and the world, from evil."

    Sazi, Sazi, Sazi, Sazi, Sazi!

  5. In all honesty, I don't read blurbs at all. I like to go into books cold, knowing as little as possible; that way it's more fun for me as I discover what exactly the book is about. It's a habit I developed a few years back, when I checked out a Star Wars novel series from the library, and when I sat down to read all of the blurbs, one of the later books actually spoiled a major event from a previous book. With the help of another blurb that had almost nothing to do with the book it was on (I forget which book) I pretty much stopped reading blurbs altogether at that point. As such, blurbs don't factor in to whether I pick up a book or not; I pretty much exclusively go by word-of-mouth and/or recommendations on the internet.

  6. That's some pretty bad blurbage (is that even a word? I suppose it is now). As well as being one of the selling points of the book, the blurb for me should give me an indication of the writer's ability and style. That blurb tells me all I need to know, and I wouldn't be wanting to read it at all.

  7. Here's a classic example, as reported on my blog a couple of years ago.