Queries and the blurbs required to write them are the obsession of unagented writers. The blurbs also become a struggle for published authors, because whether we want to admit it or not, blurb writing is something you’ll always have to do so if you haven’t honed the art, hone it now.
A recent query gave made me think about how to better explain what the blurb should be. While reading it I thought there’s no way this author would verbally describe this book to a potential reader this way. At least I hope not.
When you tell people you’re writing a book they will naturally ask what it’s about. What do you tell them? That’s your blurb and if you can’t tell them about your book in two to three minutes (before you lose their attention) you need to start reworking both your blurb and, potentially, your book.
This is not a blurb that will grab anyone’s attention:
The book is primarily set in a small town I call, Blankenship, which is a college town based on the place I grew up, Northfield, MN. However, since the protagonist studies abroad for a period of time, some of the book is set in Stockholm and Copenhagen, cities in Sweden and Norway. She also travels throughout much of Europe. While there is a strong romance in the book, the story is much bigger than that. The character’s thoughts, feelings and experiences jump off the page and readers will feel a real connection with her. As she moves forward to face her future, the ghosts of the past, and an affair she while abroad, with haunt her and change her life.
Studying abroad makes Janet stronger and has prepared her for her career, until she learns that she’s been assigned to work with the man she had an affair with. Suddenly her past meets her future and she’s confronted with memories and feelings she tried so hard never to experience. The story is about family, friends, love and growing up.
None of this works for me. I’m lost and not interested. More so, I still have no real idea what your book is about. Is it about a girl studying in Europe? Or a woman who once studied in Europe? Or does it follow someone over the course of ten or so years as both happen? Most importantly, how is this book different from any other book I’ve ever read? What is it really about? What’s the hook?
Most importantly though, is this really how you would describe your book in person to someone? Would you really tell them the book is about love and loss and that your writing will suck the reader in because your characters jump off the page?