When you pick up a book off the shelf, what is the first thing that you do? Other than check the cover art, you turn the book over and read the blurb on the back. If you don’t like it, back on the shelf it goes, right? If it catches your attention, you might flip to the first page, read a bit, then decide if you want to get the book or not. First impressions are always important, no matter what it’s for, because we’re in a society of instant satisfaction.
Writing the blurb on the back of your book sometimes seems like it would be easy, other times not so much. How do you know what to write? How much do you write? At what point is it too much?
I glanced over some of my favorite books to get an idea of how to write my cover synopsis. They all seemed to have the same idea in them. Introduce the main character(s) and a quick idea of the plot and the main conflict. Sometimes ending it in an intriguing question about the plot. I thought about how that could be done with my story, since there are technically two main characters, whereas most usually just focus on one character.
I wanted to give a quick idea of who each of the characters were, or where they came from. But how do I also, in such a short amount of words, share what the conflict was, yet keep everything interesting enough to draw someone in? When I’ve brought it up with people that ask about what I write, I first mention Jack the Ripper, and instantly people are “Ooo!” It is, after all, one of the biggest unsolved murder mysteries ever. A lot of people think it’s interesting, whether they actually know about the cases of Jack the Ripper or not are irrelevant. But how do I convey that it’s also steampunk? Other than the cover art itself, there should be something in the blurb that lets people know that it isn’t just a normal Victorian setting book.
You don’t want to write so much that nothing else is on the back of your book. You don’t want it so overpowering in information that after a couple sentences, someone sets it down because “TMI!” People want just a quick idea of what to expect. Actually reading the story is where they get excited about the rest of the details. I recently read somewhere that keeping your back cover snippet between 150 and 200 words is ideal. I wrote mine long ago, soon after finishing up my novel. I got lucky that mine was 165 words long. It doesn’t seem like enough time to give the reader an idea of your story, but if you pick the right words, it’s enough to snag them.
And so, I give you The Leviathan Mysteries, Book 1: Bloody Notes
It is 1888 London, and Jack the Ripper is at large. Scotland Yard has just received information of a double murder and having no more patience for this killer, pass the case off to the infamous Sir Leon von Hoenheim. Being an attack dog of the Queen, Leon is responsible to clean up messes that Scotland Yard just can’t take care of themselves. But with new partner, Ness, at his side, will things run as smoothly as they should?
Vanessa Hecate was kicked out of her home after her mother died, and grew up on the streets with the Greenwich Gang. After saving the lives of several upper class guests during an aero-ship heist, Vanessa finds herself in the care of Hoenheim. It’s a rough life, but she was never the kind of lady that took things easy. But after Jack the Ripper kills someone she once knew, and then goes after the Queen herself, are these the kinds of challenges she can really survive?