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?'s for the Members of CR > Anyone fancy a career in Blurbs and Synopses?

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message 1: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Clement (jaclement) | 1328 comments Hey all;

At the moment I'm just in the throes of putting together my first paperback and today I was thinking what a cool industry indie and self-pub is turning out to be. There are careers evolving which you just didn't see a year or two back, and people are earning good money doing editing, formatting, making covers, organising blog tours - all that sort of thing.

Well here's one I haven't found yet - someone who's good at writing blurbs and synopses. Because frankly, I'm rubbish at doing my own and so are a lot of other writers.

I'm put together my best shot for this book but going forward, if you have a decent writing style, enough time to read a book and the sort of mind that can condense it down into a variety of spoiler-free summaries, you seriously ought to consider it.

You probably won't get any kind of decent wage for your time, but if you like reading anyway, I suspect I'd be up for negotiating some sort of sum for a set of blurbs, summaries, synopses of various lengths... and given the plaints you hear of other writers I suspect I'm not alone in that...

What do you think? Writers, is that just me being rubbish? And readers, is it too large a use of time for a small amount of money? Or is it something that could and should be covered by editors or someone else involved in the shaping of the text anyhow?

Compare, contrast and discuss...
< grin >

message 2: by Tanecia (new)

Tanecia  (books101) I would definitely do it if it were something I could make money from. Probably not a full time job but somehing I could to do on the side for fun and spittle bit of money.

Great idea though I haven't seen any jobs like that either.

message 3: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 10 comments I'd do it. I've had authors tell me they wished I'd written their blurbs for them. Honestly it's my favorite part of writing a review.

message 4: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Herfst (stephen_herfst) | 54 comments I'm up for a challenge - blurbs / synopses are always a fine art. To get the tone and enough to grab a reader's attention is always interesting...

My article on blurb writing (giving away all my secrets ;p)

message 5: by Literary (new)

Literary | 19 comments This would be a great job! I would love it! I had a friend who did something similar as a copywriter for a toy company. Instead of books it was games and toys. Everything written on the box and instruction manuals was written by her. How fun I would that be.

Experiment BL626 What a great idea! Goodness knows how many books I come across that have so vague of a book blurb that sometime if I wonder if the author was being lazy or something. After all, why invest my time and money on a book if the author doesn't invest her time on a good blurb?

message 7: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Clement (jaclement) | 1328 comments Experiment, it's not nec the time. I find it really difficult to guess which bits go in and which don't - and to give people a taste of what's going on in so short a spiel.
It probably works better if you have two characters making one journey. Mine, not so much....!

Tell you what, peeps, I have the paperback of my books 1&2 coming out soon. When it's all ready, I'll give a free ecopy to anyone game to play and have a competition for the best blurb. Prize wouldn't be megabucks but I could do an Amazon voucher or something.Would anyone be up for entering that, or is that a slightly naff idea?


message 8: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Herfst (stephen_herfst) | 54 comments The blurb should cover the protagonist, the setting and some of the beginning (the why) and hint at some of the things to come without spelling it out.

If your intro/prologue is boring, you need to work on more than just the blurb!

message 9: by Literary (new)

Literary | 19 comments J.A. wrote: "Experiment, it's not nec the time. I find it really difficult to guess which bits go in and which don't - and to give people a taste of what's going on in so short a spiel.
It probably works bette..."

That sounds like fun!

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

My latest blurb is terrible! I've finally got synopses worked out, after YEARS of dodgy attempts. But writing the blurb is torture! I'm asking my beta readers for help. But I'm also thinking of offering a signed paperback of my novel SC to the person who comes up with the best blurb for it.

It's a distinctive skill in itself, blurb writing, and yes, there is definitely a niche waiting for people with such skills.

message 11: by Chris (new)

Chris Eboch (chriseboch) I've posted my blurbs-in-progress on Facebook and asked for feedback. People don't have to have read the book to let you know what's working and what intrigues them.

I've come to believe that less is more. Don't try to include a long synopsis. As Stephen suggested, who, where, and a hint of what/why, with intriguing questions.

My blurb for Whispers in the Dark is merely:

A young archaeologist seeking peace after an assault stumbles into danger as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. Can she overcome the fears from her past, learn to fight back, and open herself to a new romance?

For Rattled, it's a bit longer, but still short:

A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic—and deadly—New Mexico desert....

The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider.

When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of?

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

J.A. wrote: "Experiment, it's not nec the time. I find it really difficult to guess which bits go in and which don't - and to give people a taste of what's going on in so short a spiel.
It probably works bette..."

I swear I hadn't read the last bit on your post JAC. Not trying to be a copycat. :) I think people would enter though. I don't think it's naff (but I wouldn't, would I, as I was thinking of doing the same thing :))

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Chris wrote: "I've posted my blurbs-in-progress on Facebook and asked for feedback. People don't have to have read the book to let you know what's working and what intrigues them.

I've come to believe that less..."

They are both good blurbs, Chris. I like the summing up for Rattled in the first sentence, and the fact that it ends on a question. I think I will work on mine again today. :)

message 14: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) OK, here's the problem: writing a blurb requires copy-writing skills. Which are completely different from the fiction-writing skills. You need to think like a copy-writer to do a selling blurb. So people who work in advertising might be excellent "blurbers" - writers? Not so much.
I could write a synopsis/blurb of your book (not mine, of course), but it wouldn't be as effective as a real copy-editor's work.
I've had "copy-editing" blurbs on some books after a workshop, but I'm not sure they work. Mostly because I was never lured by ANY ad (I hate ads! ;-p), so I have no idea what to write to lure customers. Sigh.

message 15: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Clement (jaclement) | 1328 comments I know, it is much easier to polish someone else's stuff but honestly I just look at potential blurbage and despair.

I'll tell you a funny thing though - in the general angst about it last year, I did a bit of research on some blogs on the internet and came up with three different versions - the original, one my partner helped me with (he used to be a bookseller) and one written along the lines of a "formula" used by another highly successful fantasy writer. Then I put them on the blog and asked for feedback, and the "formula" got slated, across the board!

Which just goes to show that you can't copy off anyone else, even if you try. And also that my partner is invaluable, but I already knew that!

message 16: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Clement (jaclement) | 1328 comments (I am now wondering if you can get slated across the board but that is just my pedantry showing through!!)

message 17: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 726 comments I am currently unemployed and also always trying to get new information and look into innovative things and this sounds like something I'd be interested in doing. I am good at writing quick little introductions and writing synopses would be something different for sure.

message 19: by Esther (new)

Esther Bradley-detally (sorrygnat) | 3 comments it would be fun; i love blurbs

message 20: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 159 comments JAC, I'd just like to interject a gentle reminder here that the book blurb is not a summary of the plot--or should not be anyway. The book blurb is supposed to be marketing copy or at worst sales copy and that is definitely NOT a plot summary, since a variety of spoiler-free summaries is not going to "sell" anything.

As Barb phrased it "writing a blurb requires copy-writing skills. Which are completely different from the fiction-writing skills. You need to think like a copy-writer to do a selling blurb. So people who work in advertising might be excellent "blurbers" and by "copy-writing" what she meant was the ability to write sales copy or ad copy (and Barb, here in the US it's actually "copywriting" despite that being confused with the copyrights of an originator of material).

Writing effective ad copy is exceeding easy to do but does take a certain spin, slant, tone of voice--and it is NOT a narrative one. The author tends to drift, naturally, into an expositive narrative of their book. That is NOT effective copy.

It's not really fair to judge the effectively of all "ad copy" on one or two experiments of your own (Barb, thinking of your reference to "after a workshop" and JAC, thinking of your reference to having a "trial" with 3 versions) because (a) you don't know if the person who wrote your "experimental" copy is actually good at their job (would you judge ALL paranormal fantasy based on the next newbie to show up or based on Suzanne Collins or based on someone in between? three totally different situations, right?) and (b) writing effective ad copy specifically for the publishing industry is actually a slightly different beast than writing for say, monetizing your blog.

If you want a sample of how different writing ad copy is from writing a book review or book summary or book plot outline, check out a place like this: Copyblogger.

They have a (free last time I checked) series called Copywriting 101 and the entries will offer advice on HOW to write effective copy but many people working outside the content-generator skillset don't actually see how it all translates to writing book blurbs (or even web sites more often :-( sad as that is!)

It does all translate to Indie Publishing, I promise you, but not all of it seems relevant to an untrained eye. Many new authors or would-be proofreaders/Beta Readers/others who want to make money off the new industry (because you're 110% correct JAC, there are new revenue streams popping up out of this industry everyday!!) read the Copyblogger material and just don't see how to extend the lesson to the general case--or the specific case of Indie Book Publishing I should say :)

Brian Clark is a fairly famous guy in social media now (in the last 5 years he's risen like a rocket!!) and one of his partners, Sonia, is a pretty amazing advice-giver. They also founded a community of bloggers and copywriters and marketing professionals (like you might find at an ad agency or PR firm) called "Third Tribe Marketing." If you're serious about getting into this "book blurb writing" as a means of generating income, check out Third Tribe Marketing as a potential support community. You cannot learn from a better group of people.


message 21: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 159 comments Chris wrote: "I've posted my blurbs-in-progress on Facebook and asked for feedback. People don't have to have read the book to let you know what's working and what intrigues them."

Absolutely!! This is the key point to keep in mind. Actually, I'd say it like this. Consider you're not selling a book but going job hunting. Your resume (CV) is supposed to get you the interview. It's not going to sell you into the job, just get your foot in the door so the prospect can ask you for more information. The resume gets you sitting across the desk from somewhere where your quick thinking on your feet (or arse) gets you the job.

With a book, your effective sales copy style tweets (or other very short promo remarks elsewhere online) get your prospects to click through to your book page. Then is when your blurb comes into play. Landing on your book page, the blurbage is simply supposed to entice the prospect to download/read the free sample (assumes you HAVE a free sample available--does anyone NOT opt to sample their book these days???) The free sample is what will sell the book.

The blurbage is like your resume. It's totally possible to get hired off your resume (not likely, usually they want to interview you but it's totally possible. I've done it before, less than a handful of times, back during my contract engineering days it was the norm)

The free sample is like the interview. There's got to be a connection between the blurbage and the free sample but the blurbage does NOT have to summarize the entire book--nor should it. The free sample will give a taste and all of those "extra insights" that your interview gives in a job situation.

The blurbage is the "most essential" and "salient" points or the "most salable" skills that are most relevant to the job. In fact, the most effective resume will LEAVE OUT any/all experience or information that is not specifically going to get you THIS job. That's the advice from experts across the board.

Likewise, the "facts" stated in the book blurbage might not even have to be 100% accurate if they set the right tone, entice the reader to want more and actually sell the "Reader Experience" correctly. Just because you leave something out or state something in a sales-pitchy way that sounds a little left field from the actual plot point doesn't mean you're lying. It means your SELLING. If someone dies in the book and you make the blurbage sound "suspenseful" and "threatening" to that someone's life, then you've succeeded--even if you don't "correctly" state the HOW, WHEN, WHERE, AT WHOSE HANDS the person dies. That's the #1 mistake authors make, trying to be totally "accurate" about every last word in blurbage instead of trying to be totally EFFECTIVE.

Last note, your blurbage NEEDS one more thing. It needs to "brand" you effectively not just focus on selling one book. Your brand will sell all of your books if you brand all of your materials effectively. If your blurbage sounds like someone else's book or someone else's writing voice, it won't brand you and won't sell YOU, THE AUTHORIAL PRODUCT. Remember, as an Indie Author, YOU are the brand. The blurbage and book cover are SALES TOOLS; they are not your brand. You are.

Another Indie Author who had a background in writing effective copy is Russell Blake (@BlakeBooks). He wrote an amazingly entertaining (isn't everything Russ says entertaining? ;-))) and effective little tutorial style blog on how to summarize a book into a blurb -- then he skips over the last step where you convert the summary copy into sales copy (LOL) It's still worth reading. Check through Russ's blog for more. I honestly don't remember if he put it under "publishing" or "#books" or what. he's got huge amounts of stuff there :)


message 22: by Esther (new)

Esther Bradley-detally (sorrygnat) | 3 comments it truly sounds like what writers do after work for fun. It's like rolling word balls around, playing with word catnip and just great, and a feeling, we all help each other. I started teaching writing classes for free, because it's my passion, and I wanted to reach more underserved people who have great voices, and now I am paid for it. Keep me in mind. Hooray for all of us.

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