There are a lot of lost souls in the brave new world of self-publishing. They are covering new ground — and making a lot of mistakes in the process. That’s to be expected, I suppose, but I really wish they would listen to the advice that reviewers and publicists can give them. So, for your consideration, my 2 cents on book blurbs:
1. Have someone who doesn’t know anything about the book read the blurb.
At the end of the blurb, ask them to tell you what the book is about. If you don’t recognize the story they’re describing, then you need to rewrite the blurb.
2. Tell me what the book is about!
I don’t need to know about your inspiration, about all the meta-themes you want to explore in your work. I want to know what happens! If you don’t tell me about the plot, I’m going to assume there isn’t one. But don’t tell me too much — spoilers are a no-no.
3. Do not compare yourself to other successful authors.
It’s one thing if a critic compares you to a great author; when you do it yourself, it’s just drivel. I once had an author tell me that their work was reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway and Anne Rice. Huh? I cannot imagine the sort of mishmash that would be the lovechild of Ernie and Anne. If you tell me, as one author did, that your writing has been likened to Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov and Margaret Atwood, all I assume is that you googled some names, not that you are the sci-fi writer of the century.
4. Spellcheck. No other explanation necessary.
There are plenty of other things you can do to make your pitch a success, but as I was cleaning out my email this morning, these are things I felt obliged to share. Now if only the authors would take my advice!