But, as Elle Casey says the trifecta of awesome for eBooks is cover/blurb/sample. We've tested the cover - it's been through split testing, and we struck a balance between 'most clickable' and 'best fit with the story'. I highly recommend people adopt split testing as one of their methods prepublication - if you know a cover doesn't work, change it (which we did).
We had some debate about the cigar - it did divide opinion. The final call was to keep it in - because it's important to the story.
So, let's assume the cover is fine. Let's also take it as red that the sample is where it needs to be, just so we can focus in on the blurb.
Here's what Steve's got for book #1, It's Always Darkest:
Small-town sportswriter Paul Mallory doesn't need much to keep him happy: Red Stripe beer, H. Upmann cigars, and enough money to put down a few bets at the track every so often will do the trick nicely. He likes his quiet, undemanding life in upstate New York, and he really likes his quiet and undemanding girlfriend Pam. Maybe he even loves her.
What Paul doesn't like is travel, complications, and most of all, responsibility for the welfare of others. But when his insatiable curiosity—along with a propensity for showing off—gets the better of him one fine June day, he has to leave his old life (and Pam) behind to take on a lucrative new job; a job he never really wanted in the first place.
Then, on his very first assignment with the mysterious Cramer Press Syndicate, Mallory immediately finds himself in the spotlight at a Russian handball tournament and must decide whether to become personally involved in the biggest story he's ever covered—putting both his career and his life on the line in the process.
Whatever he does, he'll never be the same again.
I always think there are 3 golden rules to writing blurbs -
1. Introduce the protag
2. Set up the conflict
3. Do that quick enough to get and keep the reader's interest.
It tick box 1 straight off, and it does set up the broad conflict.... but it doesn't give us any detail about it. It's very non-specific. Paul is a journalist, he's reporting on Russian handball. Should get involved?
While it does give us the plot, I'm not sure it's got the same level of tension as the book itself. Underselling can be useful - it makes buyers happy, but we need to have buyers first.
Remember that a blurb is sales copy. It's job is to get the reader to look inside, grab a sample or buy the book. It's not the right time to be getting into detail.
My opinion - cut the first two paragraphs. Cigars, beer, a girlfriend. None of it screams "thriller".
But the plot is very tense. We've got not merely a handball tournament but a decapitation - and the infamous Russian White Nights.
So let's flip it upside down - and skip the basics to get to the action.
When sports journalist Paul Mallory is sent to cover a women's handball tournament for his first assignment with the Cramer Press Syndicate, he expects a working holiday - beer, sports and gorgeous women.
But then the woman he was due to interview is found brutally decapitated, and Paul finds himself not reporting the news, but becoming a part of it.
Now, this isn't perfect. It's a quick 30 second mock up. but it does most of what the original does. Conflict, tick. Curiosity value, tick. Protag introduced, tick.
What do you guys think? Can you do better? Leave a comment if you can!