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.

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