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Kerry (rocalisa) | 450 comments I'm just tossing out a curious question here - how do you feel about book blurbs that contain spoilers?

For a stand alone book or the first book in a series, it annoys me terribly.

But for later books in a series, it seems to gets more complicated.

I bring this up because I was browsing around a bunch of book sites and ended up looking up Janny Wurts (it's a habit, that I tend to do that for favourite authors). That showed me a link to the upcoming Wars of Light and Shadow book that isn't out yet. And there was a blurb, chock full of information I totally didn't want to know.

I'm in the latter half of Warhost of Vastmark right now, so I still have the full five books of the Alliance of Light arc to go before being up to that point. I guess that means it was a case of "buyer beware", but I was just casually browsing and I wasn't expecting such detailed information that I'm now horribly spoiled and feeling kind of sick about it.

(I jumped away from the page quickly and won't be looking at any book in the series ahead of where I'm up to, ever again. I trust Janny to know all I have to do is keep reading. I should have done that all along.)

So I was just wondering what other readers thought. Is there a balance between informing readers ready for the book in question and not giving away to much of the series-so-far? Is it my own fault plain and simple for looking at a book I'm not up to yet? (What if I hadn't started the series at all and that's the first one I heard about? How does that fit in?)

Just a load of questions really. What do you think?


Charles (charliewhip) | 134 comments I am going to withhold comment until I see what Janny, herself, has to say about this one. She will be well aware of the publishing/marketing aspects as well as the readers' perspective, and I can only offer one of those.


message 3: by Shel (last edited Oct 21, 2010 08:22AM) (new)

Shel (shel99) | 971 comments I just avoid reading the blurbs for books farther along in a series. I don't mind that publishers do this - one would assume that someone reading, say, book 4 in a series has already read the first three, so I don't mind if there are spoilers there. I just don't look until I'm ready.

What I *really* hate are when there are spoilers like that in movie trailers that are sequels, since you can't block those out if you're sitting in a theater!


Janny (JannyWurts) | 969 comments Kerry wrote: "I'm just tossing out a curious question here - how do you feel about book blurbs that contain spoilers?

For a stand alone book or the first book in a series, it annoys me terribly.

But for la..."


General answer: I totally hate unimaginative, in fact, stupid! spoilers in blurbs that give away a book's ending. I often don't mind little spoilers, ones that tease, or lend me a little footing into the story, because sometimes, those make the raw plunge into a new story easier.

Direct answer about this gaffe, for Kerry - did you by chance stumble into the 'blurb' for Initiate's Trial? (Link left out deliberately) If so, it ticked me plenty.

On nearly every one of the published books, I've had input (thanks to my editors) into the published blurbs on the flaps - and was permitted to temper the information so as not to create a damaging spoiler.

In the case of the upcoming book, Initiate's Trial, and what's placed online, I was not given that option. After the fact, there are only a couple of things to be said: I'd NOT have written it that way. And when the book's flap copy IS finalized, you bet, it won't stand as you've seen it.

The casual spoilers AT FIRST GLANCE were irritating. (So for readers in the dark, don't peek). For those who've already done so, here is your consolation: you will NEVER EVER guess the steps taken to get there; and even, the word choice is likely to jump you straight to a conclusion that isn't - well - let's say - what is actual in the story is much more imaginative/has depths you can't possibly grapple, and that will land like a charge of dynamite.

For readers who HAVE read the series to date, (and saw that upcoming blurb) I've put up a sneak peek of the book's actual (drafted) opening - and it stark dropped their jaws: not being AT ALL what they expected based on that blurb...and so - I'd suggest, shrug it off.

What's there doesn't tip off the experience of the book. You'll still be in for a sequence of breathless surprises. Knowing as I do that you are at the brink of the finale in Warhost, I suggest that you'll know you can trust the experience these books are shaped to deliver.

Initiate's Trial takes the world view from Arc III, and stages for the mysteries - the manuscript is complete, and in polish, and not even my editors have seen it, yet. So - that thoughtless blurb - can't possibly damage a thing. In this case, isn't always about What happens - it is everything to do with How it happens.


message 5: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1666 comments Mod
I think it's important to indicate, at the start of the blurb and on the book in general, that this is book X in a series. This way people will hopefully be careful about reading the blurb and also not buy a later book in the series by accident rather than the first one. (It's amazing how hard publishers sometimes make it to figure out the order of books in a series. I've noticed some now list them in REVERSE chronological order, with the newest book first. Why oh why would someone do this.)

In terms of reviews - I write a lot of them for later books in a series, and I always start out by indicating that this is book 3 of so-and-so series, preceded by this and this book. And then I usually do give some vague plot info for the earlier books, because I feel that at that point I've given fair warning. Personally I also find it useful to see such reviews, to refresh my memory. But blurbs are something completely different and should be spoiler-free.


Kathi | 1146 comments I don't like blurb that contain spoilers. A little info is necessary, I guess, or you'd have NO idea what the book is about, but true spoilers? I hope not.

Fortunately, I have a lousy memory and reading a spoiler in a blurb may not stick around long.

And I have to agree with Stefan about series order... more and more are doing the reverse order listing. I think some publishers try to obscure the fact that a book is part of a series so the buyer, thinking it's a stand-alone, has to come back and get the other books when it's discovered that the book is part of a series.


Kerry (rocalisa) | 450 comments Janny - yes it was for Initiate's Trial and I was very unhappy at first, but I'm getting over it.

As you say, it's more about how you get there than anything else and that is even more true for your books than many others.

It is very interesting to hear that you had no input into what went up - it did seem to be a lot more blunt and heavy-handed than I would expect from you.

I totally agree that it helps to have some comment of which book is which in a series to help one decide whether or not to risk continuing to read.

Stefan - I deliberately didn't include reviews in this post as I think that's a different kind of issue. Any decent reviewer (of which you certainly are one) is going to warn the reader if there are spoilers for earlier books in the series, and it then becomes my responsibility to read on or now. Any reviewer that doesn't do that, I won't go back. I follow the reviews of people I trust and that trust includes how they deal with spoilers.

Spoilers themselves are an interesting thing, but I have to rush out and take my son to school, so I'll try to come back to this topic later when I can be more thoughtful. This was quickly rushed off before I go.


orannia For those who've already done so, here is your consolation: you will NEVER EVER guess the steps taken to get there; and even, the word choice is likely to jump you straight to a conclusion that isn't - well - let's say - what is actual in the story is much more imaginative/has depths you can't possibly grapple, and that will land like a charge of dynamite.

*heaves huge sigh of relief* I too saw the summary and was...spoiled. (I wanted to know when the book came out so I could 'suggest' it to my library :) Thank you for the reassurance Janny!


Shel (shel99) | 971 comments Ok, so now I know to avoid any blurb about Initiate's Trial like the plague :)

I had a similar experience with Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. Here's a bit of advice for anyone planning to read them - DO NOT READ THE INTRODUCTION TO The Kindly Ones until AFTER you've finished it. It contains a MAJOR spoiler that had me throwing the book across the room in anger. I still enjoyed reading it - in fact it is my favorite volume of the series - but I've always regretted that I never had the chance to be surprised by the ending, and I still can't believe that Gaiman allowed it to be published at the FRONT of the book like that. You don't expect the INTRODUCTION to a book to spoil the ending for you!


message 10: by Chris (last edited Oct 21, 2010 04:10PM) (new)

Chris  (haughtc) Same here, Shel. I'm reading The Haunting of Hill House right now. Stephen King wrote the introduction to this particular edition. Well, I always read anything that King writes, as I enjoy his non-fiction and commentary nearly as much as his fiction. But I realized just a few pages in that this particular introduction was packed with story analysis, which will spoil it for the first time reader. I stopped and marked my place, then jumped past it into the story itself. I'll go back and finish it when I'm done with the book.

I suspect that this "introduction" was written with the assumption that it's a re-read for old fans. I've seen that technique in some of the classics too, where they put notes and intro material up front that looks at the story. Great for the scholar, but some people reading this haven't done it before.

That may have been the assumption with The Kindly Ones too, as it was a collected edition of the comics. I don't know why publishers assume that their readers aren't new to the story.


Dawn (breakofdawn) Chris wrote: "Same here, Shel. I'm reading The Haunting of Hill House right now. Stephen King wrote the introduction to this particular edition. Well, I always read anything that King writes, as I..."

The introduction in yours is by King? *pouts* Mine is by Laura Miller. I'm jealous!


Chris  (haughtc) I had to hunt mine down specifically. But I have the whole set (Stephen King Horror Library).


Shel (shel99) | 971 comments Chris wrote: "Same here, Shel. I'm reading The Haunting of Hill House right now. Stephen King wrote the introduction to this particular edition. Well, I always read anything that King writes, as I..."

I assumed I was safe, because in one of the earlier volumes (I forget which one) there was a similar issue - the Introduction contained a spoiler - so there was a note in the front explaining that the publisher had moved the Introduction to the back of the book to avoid giving anything away. I don't know why they couldn't have done that again...grrrrrr.


Ken (ogi8745) | 932 comments I never bother with blurbs from a series I am reading. I dont even look. There is no need because I eventually plan on reading
Same goes with authors. If its an author I have read before I never bother checking what the book is about


Sandra  (Sleo) | 1117 comments I guess I'm in the minority here, as I don't mind spoilers a bit. And in the case of a Wurts book, this is especially true, as almost all of the enjoyment comes from the journey through to the end. And I figure any blurb about Initiate's Trial is probably way off base, as I know it's not gone to the publishers yet, and much probably changes in the writing process.


Stuart (Asfus) | 120 comments Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "I guess I'm in the minority here, as I don't mind spoilers a bit. And in the case of a Wurts book, this is especially true, as almost all of the enjoyment comes from the journey through to the end..."

I am glad for another thumbs up for her work, you have helped me decide on my next book. She signed the copy I have, it's second hand so when it happened or how, or for who I do not know.


Sandra  (Sleo) | 1117 comments Stuart wrote: "Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "I guess I'm in the minority here, as I don't mind spoilers a bit. And in the case of a Wurts book, this is especially true, as almost all of the enjoyment comes from the jo..."

I hope you enjoy as much as I have.


Stuart (Asfus) | 120 comments Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "Stuart wrote: "Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "I guess I'm in the minority here, as I don't mind spoilers a bit. And in the case of a Wurts book, this is especially true, as almost all of the enjoyment co..."

The book in question is The Master of Whitestorm


Sandra  (Sleo) | 1117 comments Stuart wrote: "Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "Stuart wrote: "Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "I guess I'm in the minority here, as I don't mind spoilers a bit. And in the case of a Wurts book, this is especially true, as almost..."

Ah! I'm reading that one next month.


Ruby Hollyberry | 26 comments Interesting that someone mentioned Shirley Jackson. The current edition of her We Have Always Lived in the Castle has more than a front flap, it has an introduction, which I won't quote in detail, but it is clearly inaccurate in several instances, in addition to explaining and delineating the plot FAR too much. Terrible thing to do to a book. I haven't seen such a skewed introduction since Constance Greene was asked to do them for some Louisa May Alcott books I had as a child and nearly ruined them for me with her modern cynical distaste for schmaltz.

Oddly, I normally don't mind spoilers. What I do mind is intros/cover flap info that contain errors, and the wrong person having been chosen to write them (generally someone who either doesn't much like the book or whose perspective on it is ironic or deconstructive).


message 21: by M? (new)

M? (everythingbeeps) Eh...I try to avoid reading those if I can help it. Especially later books in a series; I kind of spoiled something for myself in the Mistborn series by reading the blurbs of the second and third book.


Laura (sfreadergrl) | 52 comments I don't mind blurbs/spoilers, because I find that even though publishers try to make them into literary sound bytes, they rarely succeed. It's just not possible to do to a book what gets done to movies all the time. (Yay! That's one reason I like books). If I really like a book, or if it's a re-read, I might go back and read an introduction. Othwewise not. Once in a while I read a blurb just for help figuring out what happened in the book (Gene Wolfe New Sun books). But these days, if it's too impenetrable, I just toss it.


message 23: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (last edited Nov 01, 2010 11:53AM) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1666 comments Mod
I need to bring up a horribly spoilery blurb here: At the Queen's Command by Michael A. Stackpole. The back cover reveals something HUGE that happens more than halfway into the book, and the last line on the back cover delivers a broad hint of something that happens on the LAST PAGE OF THE BOOK. Unbelievable! It's a decent novel, but the back cover is the equivalent of one of those movie trailers that reveal the entire plot of the movie.

(PS I just noticed the back cover blurb is also the book description here on GoodReads, so if you plan to read this book, I would recommend not reading that description...)


Stertay | 4 comments I always read Introductions as Afterwords for fear that they will contain spoilers. On the other hand, I try not to read back-cover blurbs, front flaps, etc., but I always seem to break down and read them before I've finished the book. Sometimes I'm sorry that I did.


Ruby Hollyberry | 26 comments What actually annoys me a lot more than spoilers is errors, as I said, and the worst errors to me, the ones that really grate, are the errors in the COVER ART. People should have the right color hair, be portrayed doing something that actually occurs in the book, etc. I am unduly disturbed when, for instance, a book with a silver or golden dragon in it has a giant red or green dragon on the cover just for eye-catchingness.


Julie S. Luckliy, I was not a first time of Jane Eyre when I read this, but I read the back to an edition of Jane Eyre, and it mentioned something pivotal that happened in last fourth of the book. The little description on the back should not be mentioning something that happens that late in the book.

I am also annoyed with introductions that analyze the book. I read Animal Farm for a class, and the teacher even assigned us to read the Introduction first. It mentioned a fairly big plot twist. I was mad at the edition for not making that the Afterward and at the teacher for having us read the Introduction before the actual book.


Sandi (Sandikal) | 334 comments I really hate it when the blurb misses the point of the book. I picked up a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird because I thought it was time for my son to read it. (He was in 6th grade.) It's my all-time favorite book, so I didn't read the blurb. He took one look at the back of the book and refused to read it because it said something about it being about a rape! Yes, there is a rape trial, but it is not about a rape.


Jeffrey | 49 comments The sole purpose of all blurbs,reviews, etc placed on a book is to sell books. How many times have we seen a blurb on a book that turns out to be from the author's husband, wife, girlfriend etc, but you do not know because they have different last names. Robert Silverberg for Haber is wife, Mercedes Lackey for Larry Dixon, her husband.


Ken (ogi8745) | 932 comments A lot of the blurbs are exactly that, mostly buddies putting in comments for their friends.

Thats why I NEVER buy a book based on an author's blurb gushing about how great this book is.


Irene Hollimon | 6 comments Usually, I try not to read blurbs if it's a book in a series that I know I'm going to read.
Twice I've read a blurb for a book that informed me which character was about to die. "Sammie is out for revenge after Connie's murder..."
I'm like Oh my Gawd! I didn't know Connie was going to die...


Jeffrey | 49 comments I think blurbs like cover art has to be taken with a grain of salt. I have talked to artists. Frequently when they do the cover art they actually read the book -- or as much of the book that they get -- which usually is the first chapter or maybe they are told its about a starship in flight or a station or a cat like alien, but how many times have you picked up a book and the cover art is from the very first chapter.

Blurbs that give away plot I think typically its no more than you see in the back of the novel or flyleaf. If its a new novel by a new novelist for you there has to be some summary of the plot to hook you in.

So I do look at the blurbs about the plot actually -- its blurbs by other writers that I do not like that much b/c you do no know the incestous relationship of them


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