Blurb in reviews – why add it?

Blurb in reviews – why add it?

Blurb in reviewsblurb

The blurb, the jacket copy, back-cover copy … call it what you will, most authors have heard of it, and a lot of authors hate having to write it. However, experience with the book writing world indicates it’s an important factor in getting a prospective reader to actually fork out their cash, so everyone grits their teeth, settles in, writes one, revises it, runs it past a court-martial of their peers, revises it some more, and eventually puts it up on covers and webpages everywhere.

So why, you may well ask, does By Rite of Word spend a paragraph on a synopsis? Isn’t that what the author’s blurb already does?

Fair enough question, and reviewers and review sites vary pretty widely in their policy on this. Some flat out don’t include a synopsis. Their view is that the author has spent time and sweat writing one and they’ll import it from Amazon if they want it. Others (not going to point fingers here) essentially write a review that’s got one or two lines along the lines of ‘Sensational read – the next J K Rowling to watch for!!!’ and then write x words of synopsis.

We aim to hit somewhere in the middle. Because many authors loathe writing copy, and because many sales hookpeople who can cheerfully write 100,000 words have a lot of pain trying to write something catchy, with a sales hook (WTF constitutes a ‘sales hook’ anyway? Sounds painful …) embedded in the very first line … sometimes having someone else write a paragraph of ‘this is a no-spoilers run-down’ followed by ‘and this is what I thought of it’ gives would-be readers a sanity check. I’ve run across several books, especially online, where the title, genre and cover have all looked promising – and the blurb was two lines. At this point I hesitated and went off to see if I could find out just a wee bit more before buying. When those books had reviews that offered a bit more clue as to the story, it helped me make a decision on whether I was likely to enjoy the book or not.

We’ve also, on rare occasions, had authors come back to us after a review and ask if they can use bits of our synopsis in their blurb, because they thought it made the book sound more exciting than the original. This kind of compliment thrills our evil little hearts, but also illustrates that sometimes, another set of eyes will catch something new and different.

Basically, our 3 star plus reviews start with a synopsis because the reason we review is to try and help authors. Yes, any review does that, but writing a paragraph of synopsis doesn’t kill us, sometimes helps a reader make a decision, and sometimes helps out the author. Win-win.

Secrets of the Home Wood, Julie Whitley

Secrets of the Home Wood, Julie Whitley

Secrets of the Home Wood: the Sacrifice

None of the James family goes into the Home Wood, although no one will tell young Jonathon James exactly why. No one seems to know what happened to vanished Great-Uncle Frederic, either. Last and possibly most importantly, no one will tell him why his parents suddenly aren’t talking to each other.  When Jon sees his father’s tracks heading straight into the forbidden Wood one morning, he resolves to find out what’s going on, and follows him in. He wasn’t expecting to see his father vanish into a cracked oak. He certainly wasn’t expecting to wake up in a different forest, and he definitely wasn’t expecting to have to stop a war to get home again…

Julie Whitley’s Secrets of the Home Wood is a brilliantly imaged tale of fantasy and magic, framed in a tale of family that will gain the reader’s sympathy from the first line. Jonathon James’s adventures are coloured by his drive to find his father, and they will take him from the hidden homeplace of the San to the craggy fortress of the Maorrr in search of his father, his mother, and his answers. Whether it’s giant ants, breaking into a castle via the sewers, or rescuing a kingdom’s only heir, Jon’s courage and his determination to see his family reunited are the unifying thread of the action. This is a beautiful story of hope in the face of impossible odds that is guaranteed to keep readers of all ages turning the pages well past curfew.

Quartz, Rabia Gale

Quartz, Rabia Gale

Quartz: the Sunless World

Rabia Gale’s Quartz: the Sunless World is a story of conflict in the dark, on a world where no sun shines and the quartz caves are vital to life. Rafe Grenfeld is a decorative social butterfly, a minor aristocrat known for his dancing. He’s also one of Oakhaven’s best spies, which is why he’s currently hiding from Blackstone’s secret police in a pile of potato peelings. Somewhere in Blackstone are hidden rumours of a legendary pillar of quartz, lost along with most of the world’s mages and relegated to the status of a myth. Unfortunately, Rafe isn’t the only one who’s heard these rumours, and killing is far from the worst thing his competition is willing to do to get there first.

Rabia Gale’s writing brings her story to epic life in the glare of gaslamps and the frenetic gaiety of a world clinging to survival by its fingernails. Quartz: the Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society. Rafe makes a gripping protagonist, his tendency to make wise-cracks irrepressible even when he’s on the verge of passing out, and the mysterious anti-hero, Isabella, with her links to a nearly extinct magic and her reluctance to reveal anything more than her name, is a refreshingly new take on the role. I would highly recommend this book – it’s a fast-paced and unique story.

Reviewed for Quality Book Works.

Goandria: Visions of War, R. Michael

Goandria: Visions of War, R. Michael

Goandria: Visions of War

Goandria: Visions of War is the story of Aron, an archris knight, one of the few remaining elite defenders of the Three Republics, whose armies had thinned over years of peace. Aron has the misfortune to be a keystone of history, father to a seer and the focus of the Republics’ enemy, and the outbreak of war doesn’t leave him time to mourn his own losses as his fate sends him all over the embattled country, trying to save what he can from the oncoming hordes. Given the size of the army under the command of the evil wizard Zontose, it seems that nothing short of a miracle will save the smoking wreckage of the Republics from complete destruction.

Goandria: Visions of War embodies all the elements of classic high fantasy – knights, exotic races in the hidden places of the storyline, and evil wizards bent on world domination with armies of monsters at their disposal. While R. Michael’s plot showed a solid grasp of story structure, I found that the character development lacked depth, with dialogue that came across as forced in places, as well as emotional responses from the characters to situations and people that made me blink from time to time. However, overall the book was an enjoyable read, with hints of more books to come.

Day of the Dragonking, Edward B. Irving

Day of the Dragonking, Edward B. Irving

Day of the Dragonking: The Last American Wizard

On the Day of the Dragonking, Steve Rowan, a broke freelance journalist, is woken in the middle of the night by an aero crash that didn’t happen, and reality as he knows it begins to unravel (and leak purple slime). When his cell phone turns out to be infested by a wiseass ghost (who may be more important to saving the world than he is), and a SEAL who believes he can fly shows up at his door with a cleanliness-obsessed BMW, Steve may continue to doubt that he’s the all-important Fool, but he strongly suspects someone’s making a fool of him somewhere.

Edward Irving’s story is a lighthearted urban fantasy comedy that turns the idea of a conventional terror attack on its head, peppered with snarky one-liners and entertaining protagonists. The storyline is filled with cameo characters drawn from every mythology from Salvadorean volcano dogs to the Tarot, each exerting their own cryptic influence on the plot, often in a way bound to be hilariously detrimental to whatever plan Master Chief Morningstar and Steve have hatched to save reality, and the action is well-paced and well-supported by the plot. I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable read, I highly recommend it.

Day of the Dragonking cover

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