In one way or another, we´ve all been confronted with clickbait before. You know, that moment when you see an interesting headline and click the link, only to have discovered that the article has little… More
Just recently I had a brief Twitter exchange regarding blurb information.
The question went something along the lines of: Is it okay for an author to withhold possible important plot elements from a blurb? A simple question. Simple, but not easy to answer.
And in that short moment, I thought to myself “Book blurbs- What a great topic to dive deeper into.” And what a great topic to have an opinion on.
This question isn´t anything new. Blurb discussions have been combed through before, but thankfully, not as often as any other book topic has. So let´s get to it!
I think it´s safe to say we all know what a blurb is. Or do we? Do we all know what a blurb is for? Are blurbs important? Is there a word limit for blurbs? How much story information is too much information? Are spoilers allowed? And most important: Is it okay for an author to withhold plot elements from a blurb? These questions deserve answers.
Any reader who´s looked up a book has been confronted with a blurb. But unfortunately, not many know the difference between a blurb and a synopsis. It´s not a crime to not know one from the other as an everyday reader. An average reader will simply think of a blurb as a story description or, as my friend always says, “That bit on the back.”. It´s not even a sin if book bloggers and authors confuse one for the other. But it would be helpful if people in the book world knew the difference between a blurb and a synopsis.
Let´s Introduce The Blurbnopsis
An easily made mistake in the self-publishing niché is when authors write blurbs for their books and end up creating something in between a blurb and a synopsis without realizing it. This isn´t, by any means, career-ending, but it happens. It may be because an author doesn´t know how to write a blurb or has difficulty writing one. Maybe they asked for advice and were misinformed. Also, some writers don´t know the difference between a blurb and a synopsis. A blurb is supposed to sum up the main aspects of the story without giving too much away. It´s a sales pitch because an author is trying to get a reader interested in their story. A synopsis is a whole story ( including spoilers ) in a nutshell. A story crammed into anything between 500 words to max. 2 pages. A synopsis is written to send to publishers, agents, or ( if self-publishing ) to book cover designers and marketing gurus. Pretty easy, right? It´s pretty easy to unintentionally mash the two together if you don´t know the difference or if an author isn´t sure about what to include in a blurb or not. But not every author who writes their own blurbs are clueless.
To include or not to include…
A blurb can come in many different lengths. I´ve seen mysterious ( and often cryptic ) one-liners. I´ve seen blurbs that come pretty close to short stories ( with a story beginning and end ). Then there are the blurbs that give just enough info to tease a reader without spoiling the whole story. Which one is considered to be the perfect blurb?
Well, a blurb is generally 150 – 200 words short. So, technically, something in between the one-liner and the short story would be great.
A writer has the chance to give a 200-word sales pitch- Words that will lure a reader in to buy their book. But does this really work for every author/ for every book? In some cases, authors feel that 150 – 200 words aren´t enough to make a story sound appealing.
This is a tricky aspect of a blurb: How much of a story to include or not. Because a blurb can make or break book sales. When writing blurbs– What should be included or not? What parts of a story should be mentioned?
Well, from what I know, the information in a blurb should consist of these points:
- The stage setting
- Character introduction
- Situation reveal
- Problem/Threat reveal
- Adding what´s at stake
The idea of a blurb is to reveal enough to catch a reader’s attention without revealing any essential plot points. There has to be a hook. Without a hook, a reader can´t get hooked. (I´m feeling my poetic side tonight ) It´s hard to believe that many authors think that readers need more information in order to grab a reader´s interest. Yet, it happens. Quite a few authors and readers feel that 200 words aren´t enough.
Additional plot elements in a blurb can be considered spoilers…
And this is the point where the blurb trickery continues- A spoiler is when essential plot elements are revealed in a blurb. But since it´s 2020 and most people have created their own definitions of many words it´s hard to determine what a true spoiler is and not. Hell, it´s hard to know what people understand when they hear/read the word essential. We shouldn´t be asking questions like ” What is a spoiler?” anymore. Instead, we should start asking this version: “What do you think is a spoiler?”
If we step back and look at this whole blurb issue from a distance then we´ll see that a blurb is, in fact, sort of a spoiler. It´s a spoiler that teases. A sort of bullet point guide to inform a reader. Without the blurb, none of us would know jack aside from the little information a title and cover image gives.
So, are additional plot elements in a blurb spoilers? I´d say yes. If it´s not necessary then it shouldn´t be included. Yet, for some reason, many readers aren´t satisfied with many book blurbs because there´s a lack of what some readers deem `crucial` information. This so-called crucial information could be anything from up or down the scale. Thanks to our ability to misinterpret words and our wonderful ability to give feedback ( which is often based on our emotions ) we´ve made it hard for some authors to know where to draw the line between spoilers and adding essential plot elements. An author may know the difference but since many cater to their readers’ needs they tend to give in to not disappoint. Authors don´t want to make mistakes.
Fit For A Blurb Or The Content Warning Box?
Another issue would be- To know what crucial information is vital for a book blurb and what can be shoved in the content warning section. There´s a high demand for content warnings in the fiction world. Withholding any type of `significant` information of a story could possibly aggravate an existing fan base and/or new readers. Many readers think certain blurb information is more suitable for the content warning box. It´s for an author to know and decide which goes where. But then again… This is a war that can´t be won, so the point is rather arguable.
So, how do authors solve this blurb problem? After having done so much homework on the topic I´d say authors have two choices:
- Write a blurbnopsis ( blurb + synopsis ) in order to please the existing fan base and potential new readers
- Write a blurb and move on
Because a blurb is what grabs a reader’s attention in the first place. It´s as simple as that. There is no recipe to follow. There are only guidelines that can be followed or ignored.
I can´t say for sure if the blurbnopsis or blurb approach is the best because I´m not trying to sell a book. I can only share with you what I prefer when checking books out. I´m more of a less blurb is more type of person. I prefer the element of surprise, even if the story ends up being a total miss for me. I´ll take that chance over the “safer option” any day. Because, at the end of the day, there´s no guarantee for anything.
When I´m hunting for books and I happen to stumble upon a blurb that includes way too much information then I feel my curiosity level sink and I will move on to a different book. But that´s just me and my weird self.
How about we find some real answers to all the questions I presented above?
I can easily answer with: A book blurb is necessary. But the size and length depend on the story and the author ( or publisher ). It also depends on the genre and readers. Yes, I included readers because it´s 2020. One might not think readers are capable of shifting an author but.. they do have that power over some authors. Feedback, for as lovely and necessary as it is, is a double-edged sword ( more about that in my Should Authors Be Crowd Pleasers? )
Are book blurbs with spoilers okay? In my book, yes and no. If the word count in a blurb is around what´s considered to be normal then I have nothing against a spoiler. If the blurb turns out to be a synopsis then I´ll be like “Thanks for saving me time, money, and effort to buy your book.”
Do I think it´s okay for an author to withhold plot elements from a blurb? Yes. If I were an author I´d strive to want to surprise my readers. I´d like for my readers to be excited instead of dreading the unknown. Thankfully, I´m not an author, so… I don´t have to make decisions on whether or not to adjust the book blurb guidelines for whatever reason.
As for including too much information– I think many authors are far too generous when it comes to their blurbs. By offering more information they´re basically shooting themselves in the foot.
But as I said above- This is just me and my weird views. There are plenty of readers who prefer a blurbnopsis. There are countless fiction readers who´d rather know exactly what a book is about than experience a story with having a rough outline of the story.
What do you think? Have you noticed a difference when it comes to blurbs? Which type of blurb do you enjoy seeing- A short one or a blurbnopsis? I´d love to know your thoughts on the subject. ❤
If you enjoyed this blog post then I highly encourage you to leave a like and a comment.
Hope you have a wonderful book-loaded day.
- Buchtitel: Wer, Wenn Nicht Wir
- Autorin: Babara Leciejewski
- Genre: Romanze
- Buchseiten: 318
Nach mehr als zwanzig Ehejahren haben sich Viola und Florian auseinandergelebt. Außer den beiden Kindern, der gemeinsamen Wohnung und einem Trauschein gibt es kaum noch Berührungspunkte. In der Hoffnung, mit jemand anderem noch einmal neu anfangen zu können, trennen sie sich – einvernehmlich und vergleichsweise harmonisch.
Doch es gibt noch eine letzte Hürde auf dem Weg in ein neues Leben: einen längst gebuchten, teuer bezahlten Luxusurlaub, der sich nicht stornieren lässt. Die beiden haben nun die Wahl zwischen zwei Übeln: das Geld zu verlieren oder mit dem künftigen Ex-Ehepartner – in getrennten Zimmern – noch einmal zweieinhalb Wochen zu verbringen.
Allerdings ergibt sich plötzlich auch noch eine dritte Möglichkeit, und mit ihr beginnt eine unvergessliche Zeit auf Rhodos …
ENDLICH! Nach so vielen Monaten habe ich ENDLICH ein Buch gefunden, das mir unheimlich viel Freude gebracht hat. Es ist sehr selten das Bücher Charakteren haben die älter als Mitte zwanzig sind. Genauso selten ist es auch das die Charaktere älteren Kinder haben und mit dem Alltag kämpfen müssen.
Wer, Wenn Nicht Wir von Barbara Leciejewski war genau das was ich lesen wollte-eine Geschichte über eine eingeschlafene Ehe und die Konsequenzen einer Trennung mit Kindern. Also, quasi ein romantisches Cliché Soufflé mit ein wenig Humor und Spannung.
Die Freude war unendlich groß als sich rausstellte, dass die Geschichte nicht übertrieben Dramatisch war, sondern genau so wie man sich eine halbwegs zivilisierte Trennung vorstellt-Einfach in der Theorie aber kompliziert in der Umsetzung. Und so ist die Geschichte geschrieben. Man hat keine andere Möglichkeit als Mitleid und Verständnis für Viola und Florian zu empfinden, weil die erwähnten Situation absolut nachvollziehbar sind.
Eine wundervolle, zeitlose und schön geschriebene Roman für alle Romantik Fans.
Das Cover – 4 Sterne: Süß. Auf jeden Fall ansprechend.
Die Geschichte – 4 Sterne: Nachempfindbar. Romantisch. Klassisch.
Die Charaktere – 4 Sterne: Viola und Florian waren das absolute Traumpaar.
Mein finaler Gemütszustand: Vollkommen zufrieden.
When people ask me what´s it like to be in the book blog community I always give the same answer:
Because it is. Sure, it´s great fun to mingle with the book crowd and read/review and “research” on social media… There´s always something new happening in the book blog universe. Just recently I stumbled upon something that caught my bookish attention. A site called Book Trigger Warnings.
Book Trigger Warnings is a site that´s dedicated to readers who´re looking for `safe` books to read.
In theory, not a bad idea. Some readers are sensitive / get triggered when reading potentially distressing material. Also, this idea offers insensitive readers, who´re looking for specific triggering elements, a way to feed their needs. The site can be seen as a win/win for both reader parties.
In practice, though… This won´t be a simple thing to manage. Especially in a world where close to everything can be considered a trigger.
I won´t lie- I have mixed feelings about this site or any other site that promises `safe` options. I also don´t see the word `safe` anywhere near books. I can´t say I´ve met an author whose first priority was to write a safe book.
I accept a reader´s wish to want to read books that won´t trigger them. But where does the trigger list start and end?
Another concern of mine is: Most books already have trigger warnings. These are often included in online book descriptions ( either provided by a publisher or author ) or inside books. To include more trigger warnings would mean to reveal more information about the story. From my point of view, this means we´re moving further away from trigger warnings and closer toward spoilers. Not that I have anything against spoilers ( spoiler fan here ) but there are people who´ll literally threaten others if they mention more than what´s been printed on the backside of a book.
I can´t help but think about what book trigger warning sites do for authors / self-published authors ( or won´t do ). It´s no secret that most are already struggling with the trigger topic. Because trigger warnings influence sales.
- Add no trigger warnings = Some readers could get triggered
- Add a few warnings = Some readers will be triggered
- Add a generalized warning = Some readers will be triggered
- Add any/all potential topic as a warning = Some readers will be triggered
A triggered reader will most likely leave a negative review. Negative reviews have the power to persuade potential buyers. So, an author is convinced they have to include trigger warnings for their books to not jeopardize their book sales. So far so good. But what if I told you that half of the triggered population isn´t genuinely triggered? Maybe they just don´t approve of certain elements in stories and demand to be warned?
The bottom line of all the points mentioned above is: Whatever happens, there will be triggered people. And there will be negative reviews. These can´t be avoided no matter what.
I applaud the people managing Book Trigger Warnings and wanting to provide safe reading experiences for their followers. It’s a genuine concept that targets a certain crowd. But I´m having a hard time wrapping my head around this topic.
We´re living in a world where people aren´t satisfied with walking away from something they don´t enjoy/like/approve of. The sole purpose of a book has always been to educate and entertain readers. By creating lists with `safe` reading options we´re helping readers stay in their comfort zones and unconsciously pressuring self-published authors to rethink their ideas for their future stories/to work harder on including the right trigger warnings.
Non-fiction can be a challenging genre for some readers. For readers who genuinely become emotionally distressed- I think the Book Trigger Warnings site could be helpful. It could also work the other way around for readers who live for emotional wreckage. But I truly believe many will misuse the site and that will take its toll on the publishing and self-publishing world.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about this topic. But then again, there is no right or wrong when it comes to trigger warnings. It all depends on the individual reader.
Despite my mixed feelings, I wish Book Trigger Warnings all the success, love, and chocolate cake in the world. May their site be as helpful as they hope it will be.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree. ❤
Sending everyone lots of book love!
Have a wonderful day,
Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.
Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.
When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.
The Queen´s Assassin ( The Queen´s Secret ) by Melissa De La Cruz is a fantasy gone bone dry.
Think of being served an overcooked turkey and having to eat that without drinking a sip of water during or after- That´s how this book felt.
` Bound by fate… Broken by love. `
The tagline on the front cover sounds cheesy as hell but that´s exactly what I was looking for. A fantasy romance with a bit of abracadabra or voodoo majoojoo that would ruin my emotional household. So, I bought it and… fell asleep after a few pages.
The next day I gave it another go. I fell asleep again. It took me a full week to finish The Queen´s Assassin because it was so sober. So dry. So utterly matter of fact. Not the multifaceted story I imagined it would be. It´s never a good sign when I fall asleep so often when wanting to read a book.
With that being said, I didn´t like the writing. I liked how the story started and I loved the world build but not how the story was told. The exciting moments weren´t exciting. The drama wasn´t dramatic. The romance wasn´t there. The mysterious parts weren´t gripping. The big reveal at the end didn´t faze me one bit.
Would I recommend this book? Not if you´re looking for something that´ll knock your fantasy romance world.
Will I continue the series? Nope.
The Cover – 3 Stars: It´s decent. Nothing special.
The Story – 2 Stars: Less adventurous than promised. Less gripping than I thought it would be. Plus, the writing did nothing for me.
The Characters – 2 Stars: Both did nothing for me as individual figures or as a couple.
My emotional state after finishing this book – Ready to move on.
This book is available online on Amazon.com
Book character names– You just gotta love them. Even the ones you´re not sure how to pronounce.
As avid readers we´re often confronted with characters who have standard names. Whether they´re gender-specific names or gender-neutral… a reader has a good chance at pronouncing a book character´s name correctly. I mean, it´s hard to verbally butcher Dylan, Michael, Daniel, Gabriel, Cole or Samantha, Jessica, and Mathilda.
But then we discover a book that has characters who don´t have standard names. That´s when things can become tricky for a reader.
I´ll admit that I belong to those people who have problems pronouncing unique names, especially when reading fantasy. Usually, I just go along with whatever pronunciation I come up with and continue reading. My mental pronunciation of a character´s name is final no matter how often others try to correct me. I can´t help it. It´s like I´ve set my version of a name in stone.
Let the mental name pronunciation games begin ( and end )!
Fantasy authors love to give their characters that extra something. That particular sprinkle of special to make him/her/it stand out from all the others. They could be bold and fierce, beautiful, and deadly… They could kill demons and stare into Medusa´s eyes without turning to stone. That someone can´t be named Jimmy or Candy ( apologies to all the Jimmys and Candys IRL. Y´all are awesome in your own right ). The deadly warrior has to have a name that lives up to their reputation. They need a name that´s unique. So, what some authors will do is either take an existing name and tinker with that or they´ll play around with the alphabet- Creating names 50% of the reading population can´t pronounce.
From what I´ve seen, many of these difficult names often have the letters Y and H in them. Not to forget the hyphens, tildes, a slashed O, and sometimes an umlaut. For anyone who isn´t familiar with these letters or special characters ( for lack of a better term ), any name would be hard to pronounce correctly. It´s a challenge.
But do not fear! Not all authors leave their readers clueless. Some authors have pity with their readers. Some books have a pronunciation guide. Personally, I find this semi helpful. Most books include this little addition in the last few pages. Meaning: when the story has already been read. This means a reader who was unsure about a name spent 2-7 days mentally pronouncing a name wrong. The books that have a pronunciation guide in the first few pages are more helpful.
Unique Names Aren´t Tied To One Genre Only
Unfortunately, the fantasy genre isn´t the only genre that has difficult to pronounce names. We see this happen in romance, YA, historical, etc. Names can sometimes match the setting of a story. If a story takes place in Norway then I do kind of expect to see typical Norwegian or Norse names. For me, there´s no greater challenge than trying to pronounce a Gaelic or Norse name, especially when authors pick the most difficult name known in the history of names. The tongue twisters. The names even the natives can´t pronounce correctly. These names often leave me with no other choice than to come up with another name for the character.
Yes, I´ve occasionally given characters that had difficult to pronounce names other names. I´ve done this mostly because I was fed up with the guessing game.
Feyre, the main character from Sarah J. Maas´s A Court Of Thorns And Roses quickly became Fey. Just Fey. Feyre could be pronounced Fire-re or Fairie, right? The correct pronunciation, though, is Fay-ruh.
Laoghaire, a character from Diana Gabaldon´s Outlander, became Longhair. How was I supposed to know the correct pronunciation is Leery? Laoghaire looks more like Longhair than anything else. I´ve been calling that character Longhair ever since ( and funnily enough, no one has corrected me ).
It´s understandable why many authors decide on odd/unique/special/ancient/made-up names for their characters. These names aren´t easy to forget. They leave a lasting impression. Of course, this leaves me with a whole lot of questions for authors. Questions that´ll most likely stay unanswered. But that´s okay. I don´t really need to know why some names exist. I also don´t need to know if authors expect their readers to come up with the correct pronunciation from the get-go. Still, I wonder….
So, what´s the best way to go about this issue? I have no clue. I´ll stick with doing what I´ve always done.
What about you? Can you relate? Do you occasionally have problems pronouncing book character names? Which name has been the most difficult to pronounce? Let me know in the comments below. I´d love to chat. ❤
Thank you for reading my blog post. I totally appreciate it.