A subject that I find rather fascinating, oddly enough. I used to love reading the blurbs in the back of a paperback when I was younger – you don’t get it so much these days but that little snapshot of a novel has always been something I want to read. But what makes a blurb a good one? Afraid I’m not imparting secrets here, since I find writing blurbs a difficult exercise even when I wrote the damn book – i’m just interested in how they vary and how people approach them. I know some who don’t even read the blurb, they go off recommendations and don’t want their opinion coloured – others, like me will buy a book off a good blurb. I was always put off buying The Eye of the World by the hideous artwork, but something about the snippet on the back – not even a blurb that one – grabbed my imagination and I had to buy it.
I suspect the Name of the Wind blurb has sold more than a few copies by itself, but it’s an art I find elusive. usually my first runs are over-long and over-detailed and I have to try and boil them down into something interesting over a dozen edits. I try to avoid as many fantasy names as possible, certainly the complicated ones that have put me off other books in the past, but as readers, what does it for you? What puts you off?
Are there books you’ve bought on the strength of the blurb? Ones you’ve not bothered with for the same reason? I’m reading the blurb for Way of Kings and, though everyone says it’s great, I just can’t bring myself to care off the back of that blurb. For me there are too many names, too many details and too many questions. Unsurprisingly, having met the man and realised how clever he is, I tend to find Adam Roberts blurbs hugely intriguing, and Joe Abercrombie’s all tend to be good because they sound the way he speaks and he’s an entertaining guy, but there are so many that I just don’t care about. Now I’m planning a new series, I’ve got a while handful sitting in a file waiting to be refined – but how to do them so it’s not just for my own entertainment…?