Monday, June 15, 2009

Why do blurbs ask me questions?

I assume they ask you questions, too.

Blurb: Will Roger and Gil be able to outrun the snowballing horror that threatens to crush their love?

Me: Uh . . . how many guesses do I get? Hmm. Now this is going to keep me up all night. Will their love be crushed or not? Damn. Could you at least give me a hint?

What is with that?

I must confess, some of my very own books have had blurbs that ask questions to which even a lone and partially disabled brain cell would know the answer. I've conscientiously been trying to keep questions out of my blurbs. Thus far, at least recently, I've been successful.

Maybe blurbs should come with multiple-choice answers. That would engage potential readers a lot more, don't you think?

Blurb: What will happen to Roger and Gil as they try to outrun the snowballing horror that threatens to crush their love?

1.) The snowball will melt from the heat of their blazing passion.

2.) Gil will get flattened like Gumby. Following a period of complete immersion in self-pity, Roger will take up with a woman who has a meaningful tattoo and is as sexually confused as he.

3.) The snowballing horror will clip Roger, leaving him battered and broken, and Gil will hightail it like the yellow-bellied, faithless, self-serving pussy he is.

4.) Roger and Gil will part ways with their love and let it get crushed to save their own asses, because they're more into sex than romance anyway.

5.) There is no snowballing horror; Roger and Gil are drama queens.

6.) This blurb is actually for another book. The publisher just likes messing with people's minds.

My feeling about blurbs is this. They should give a reader some idea of what the story and central relationship are about without dishing up any spoilers, without being cutesy or coy, and without overemphasizing a particular plot element (like sex -- sheesh -- or mystery or danger). Better yet if they give me some feel for the book's overall tone.

Over at the Liquid Silver forums, my upcoming release there was just given its own thread about a week ago. The blurb for Bastards and Pretty Boys is right near the top (there's also an excerpt further down the thread). I rather like this blurb. Click on the post title to see what you think. Does it need to say more? Or not?


Katrina Strauss said...

I speak frankly with one publisher/owner who, because I once worked for an e-pub, shares behind-the-scenes machinations wiht me. She insists the question formula works, and that those types of blurbs result in higher sales. I often end my self-written blurbs with questions, though I try to work them into more of a creative hook than something with an obvious answer. If I hear overdramatic "serial episode" music running in the back of my head as I type it (Will our dashing hero whisk sweet Clara pff the tracks before the train arrives??? *dun dun dun*), I know it's too cheesy and I'd better reword!

K. Z. Snow said...

Good point, Katrina. About the importance of wording, I mean. I'm not so sure about the flat assertion that any old question will do, though. Like the ones with "serial episode" music in the background. :-D They're actually rather insulting, I think, to the writer and the reader.

Jenre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenre said...

Let's try that again without the mistakes!

Love that multiple choice. I dare you to put one into the next blurb you write!

The comical thing is that I often find myself wanting to add a question onto the end of my plot summaries in reviews. It's almost as though I've been conditioned to do it by reading so many blurbs that end in questions!

Hmmmmm. I'm now going to have to scan back through a few of my reviews and see how many times I do it! I think it mainly happens when I'm reviewing a lighthearted book as I tend to adopt a more jovial tone to my reviews then.

That must be a post for another day - do reviewers adopt different tones depending on how serious the topic in the book being reviewed?

K. Z. Snow said...

The comical thing is that I often find myself wanting to add a question onto the end of my plot summaries in reviews.

Oh no! Jen, the tentacles are reaching for you. Run!

Actually, I'd love to write a multiple-choice question into one of my blurbs. But publishers don't usually share my sense of humor, and readers might be too befuddled by it. (I'd sure as hell entertain myself doing it, though.) :-D

Kris said...

*snort* Great post, K Z.

I get a giggle out of blurb questions. It may be me, but I love to read out loud those overly dramatic blurbs in my best voice over voice and add in the 'ooohs', 'aahhs' and wide eyes. Could be that I'm easily amused, but it always manages to entertain the masses when I do it in the middle of a bookstore. LOL.

I liked your blurb for 'Bastards and Pretty Boys' I have to ask though... why the fear of water?? Are you laying hints??

K. Z. Snow said...

I always chuckle at them too, Kris. Just recently, I've noticed that Topaz Promotions likes to start their blurbs and excerpts with questions. A string of their posts at one GLBT loop had me grinning like a lunatic one evening.

And thus are blog-post ideas born. :-)

[Voice over]: "Does Charlie's fear of water figure into the plot of Bastards and Pretty Boys ... or is it just a humanizing characteristic, like crying over movies?"



Kris said...

LOL. Smart arse/ass.

Anya Howard said...

Will the snowball be able to run Roger and Gil down in time to save Christmas Town from their devious plot to infiltrate Santa's workshop with cheap Chinese imports? Will the stoner elves be able to find Mrs. Claus' "special herb" brownies? And will the jolly man himself ever be able to stop himself from posting voyeur reindeer videos at Youtube? These and more questions answered next WEEK with the release of SNOWBALLS OF PASSION, Part 2 of the THIGHS OF ICE series by Friggan Kold!

I'm sorry, K.Z., but you got me started....

K. Z. Snow said...

:-D :-D :-D

Stoner elves...hahahaha!

(Don't worry, Anya; I get myself started all the time. Obviously.)