In a newspaper, the headline is responsible for attracting the reader’s attention. The font is often different from the text; it’s larger and it’s bold. In radio the job falls to the five-second blurb, “Next up: Wooly mammoth returns to New Jersey potato field.” Often the volume increases, which television takes to an entirely different level when a commercial airs. Advertisers know that (other than for Super Bowl commercials that will only appear a few times and have some built-in anticipation) you aren’t going to be interested in their commercial. They need to pound their message into your head, even as you are walking away to the bathroom. But, I digress.
For readers of novels and non-fiction books, such as I, the book cover jacket bears the responsibility of grabbing a potential reader’s attention. The marketing department’s choice of color, cover art, title, font size for the title, font size for the author’s name, whether the author has a full name or only initials – are all designed to get you to pick up the book.
You succumb and are now holding the book in your hand. Next you open the book and scan the inside flap with the blurb. A successful blurb answers, or better, suggests answers to the five “W-questions”: Who, What, Where, When and Why.
Who is the protagonist? What’s happening that we should want to spend several hours reading about? Where and When is the story taking place? Why should you read this book rather than another? The Why portion often consists of short quotes from other authors about how great the book is.
At least that’s what I understand a successful blurb should do. I read them only when I am psyching myself up for writing a query letter or a synopsis for one of my novels – a task I do not enjoy in the least.
I admit to falling prey to a good title or interesting cover art on a book while browsing a bookstore, but then I flip to the first page, first paragraph, and I start to read. An author who is new to me has a page, maybe two, to convince me I want to spend several hours with their work. They need to answer the same five W questions, but they must do it with their actual writing, not a blurb.
But that’s me, how do you choose which book to read next?
Please contact E. B. Davis at email@example.com for information on guest blogs and interviews. October Interviews 10/6 Joan Garcia 10/13 M. E. Browning 10/20 Lori Lewis Ham 10/27 Krista Davis 10/31 Veronica Bond Guest Blogs 10/2 Kathy Manos Penn 10/16 Kate Lansing 10/30 Jule Selbo -----------------------------------------------------------------------------