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I was “pitch slapped” last week – and no, that’s not a typo. Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt.

My book’s blurb was put under a microsope and dissected, and now I have a better idea of “what worked and what sank and what swam in this seaside romance”. I also have a much greater respect for people who can write a good blurb!

All authors and publishers know that a good blurb – or, as Amazon so prosaically calls it, a “product description” – is vital. You’ve got seconds to grab a reader’s attention, to make them interested enough in your story to read the whole blurb, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first chapter of the novel.

There’s a fine line between giving enough information to pique interest but not giving so much that the reader is inundated with detail and feels they’ve read the whole book already.

Alas, I erred on the ‘not enough’ side. I was vague. Worse, my supposedly tantalising questions sowed only confusion, not interest. (That could explain the less-than-stellar sales, although it’s also possible that ‘Ship to Shore’ is simply a bad book!) For all that my blurb’s critic could tell, my hero Dermid could be a Scottish werewolf. (Actually, sales would probably increase if he was!)

Of course, blurbs and pitches can be found in all aspects of our lives, not merely in trying to sell a novel. We pay special attention to our appearance when we’ve got a job interview, say, or a hot date; what is that if not making a pitch? We are using those first few seconds to sell ourselves. (We may later regret that sale, but there’s another story.)

So I went back to the keyboard to craft a blurb that hopefully will fulfill its purpose.

All I have to do now is figure out how to turn Dermid into a werewolf … Perhaps he plays his bagpipes only when there’s a full moon?

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