BLURB…BLURB…BLURB. What Works?

As time creeps ever so slowly toward my manuscript [finally] being turned into a novel, the question of what makes us choose a book becomes much more than a passing interest. 
     So I thought I’d combine my search for answers with a new-found ability to add a poll button to my posts and ask all you book-buyers [and borrowers] to choose which of the following blurbs [randomly picked from my bookshelves but with an eye for different styles] most hits the mark.
     There may be other bits and pieces on the inside, etc. but I have concentrated just on what is on the back cover because I figure that’s mostly what we read first when considering a purchase.
     If you feel like adding a comment about why something does or does not work, please do.  But don’t forget to vote.

 BLURB STYLE #1  – What the Story is About.   
The China Garden by Kristina Olsson

Over two hot weeks one summer, cracks emerge in the veneer of a small coastal town.
When a newborn baby is found abandoned in a backyard, this dramatic event pierces the lives of three very different women.  Laura has returned home for her mother’s funeral after years in exile, only to discover her upbringing was based on a lie; elderly Cress, the moral compass of the community, conceals her own vices; while young Abby walks the streets, her bruises wrapped in baggy clothes.  But it is gentle Kieran, an unlikely guardian, who knows their secrets and watches over them.
As their lives collide, what is buried can no longer remain hidden.  The China Garden is a captivating story about betrayal and its echoes across generations.

 BLURB STYLE #2 – Reviews Only.                    
Away by Amy Bloom

Advance praise for Away
‘Raunchy, funny, and touching.  Away is an elegant window into the perils of invention and reinvention in New York in the twenties.  Amy Bloom’s heroine, Lillian, Is an unforgettable young woman’  Caryl Phillips
‘A book full of tender wisdom, brawling insight, sharp-edged humour and – if it’s possible – a lovely, wayward precision.  Amy Bloom has created an unforgettable cast of characters’  Colum McCann
‘It’s such a strong vibrant story, brittle with its underlying tragedy, and fascinating for the pieces of history it reveals along the way’ Georgina Harding
Away grabs you by the throat from the first page to the last, breaks your heart and shakes all your senses awake’ Emma Donoghue

 BLURB STYLE #3 – Excerpt + One Line Grab + Review Quotes  
Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein

All the suffering and pain of their lives was cancelled out by the beauty and courage of the performers.  I understood for a moment why they put their entire being into the performance even though they were being used like slaves and animals.  In the Galax-Arena, they were free.
Confronting and stunningly original, Galax Arena challenges our way of thinking about the world.
‘Innovative, provocative, effortlessly ethical and utterly convincing … a brilliant book.’  Katharine England, Advertiser (Adelaide)
Galax-Arena is chillingly real … A first rate thriller that will leave readers hoping for a sequel.’ Booklist (USA)

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “BLURB…BLURB…BLURB. What Works?

  1. I don’t trust reviews anyway – not ones that are printed on covers – I want to know what the book is about and either an explanation or a meaningful excerpt will do that for me.

    • Thanks for commenting. I tend to agree with you. I particularly like an excerpt because it allows me to experience the ‘style’ of the writing, something more important for me than the content.

  2. Thanks so much for dropping by my blog Karen. I usually pick a book based on reading the first paragraph. Also if it’s about a subject matter that I can relate to somehow 🙂 I voted for the first type of blurb and I see many others have too……hope it helps.

  3. karenleethompson

    I love the great photos on your blog…something I have not even attempted to do.
    I was very interested to read that you base your choice on the first paragraph. I have a friend who does that and he doesn’t even read the back blurb. Do you usually look at the back first or just go straight to page one?

  4. Thank you Karen 🙂 I would love to see photos of the beautiful place you live in

    I usually just go to the first page and maybe once I know I want to buy the book I will glance at the blurb 🙂

  5. I miss the library since I go through 3 or 4 books a week. Now I’m forced to read almost anything I can get my hands on at the local English owned shops.

    I usually have to get into the ‘meat’ of a book before I know for sure if I like it.

    • Three or four a week! Must cost a fortune. One of the best things the staff at our little library did recently was wrap a selection of books in brown paper and invite patrons to choose something at random. I thoroughly enjoyed my library-staff favourite.

  6. Hi Karen, I’m definitely a back-cover blurb then a first-paragraph girl. Like you, I’m awaiting publication of my debut novel and wondering much the same thing…Will the cover draw in a reader, will there be a tasty one-line? Then of course, as I write, I remind myself of how I choose a book and that first paragraph becomes everything. I fear, like Mickey in the Night Kitchen, I pounded and pulled until it looked just right…

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