When someone tells me that I need a synopsis of my novel, I’ll admit, I blanch. Agents, editors, marketers expect to be told about your novel in an single side or less, and if you’re anything like me, it’s painful to write. How do I break down my novel into 300 or so words without it sounding like the most pathetic drivel in the universe? For me, writing a synopsis is like pulling teeth.
However bad synopsis writing is, blurbs are worse. Not only do you have to sum up your book, but now you have to do it in less words, with more excitement, and without giving away any plot twists but while still hinting at them.
Would you like some lemon juice for the holes your teeth used to be in?
I take no pleasure in writing blurbs, or pitches, or synopses. Sometimes, if the blurb comes first, it’s fine, but taking an entire novel and breaking it down into a paragraph and a tag line is just… Let’s just say ‘no’ and get it over with.
This is a part of my novel that I have been dreading. I’ve put it off as long as possible, using my long pitch on websites like Wattpad and Authonomy. Now, with Dead and Buryd off with the editor again, I have no choice but to knuckle down with it. My release date is in less than three months, my deadline for getting it to Kobo and the printers is in a month. I need this done… yesterday.
So, how do you go about writing a blurb? I looked at some blurbs, a lot of blurbs, and the general format seems to be a single line hook, and then a paragraph of exciting, ‘can’t put it down’ description of the story… without any of the plot twists, but alluding to them.
With that in mind, I wrote this:
What if, by helping to free a friend from slavery, you end up setting in motion the plan to free an entire race?
For Georgianna Lennox life has always been about helping people. When a simple delivery uncovers the sale of a friend into slavery, Georgianna realises that she’s in too deep to walk away. With the plan to free Nyah escalating, Georgianna finds herself caught in a web of lies, cruelty, and hidden agendas—where saving a single life can ignite a plan to free her race from servitude… and freedom carries a heavy price.
I put this blurb on a couple of websites I frequent and asked ‘would you buy this book?’ While I thought I’d done rather well, and I dread to think what they would have said to earlier drafts, the overwhelming response was that no, they wouldn’t buy it.
This, I believe, is why professionals write blurbs for traditionally published authors.
The feedback I received was unbelievably helpful and varied. Some of the points are as follows:
- Needs a description of the setting
- Don’t use ‘what if’ questions.
- Explain why Georgianna’s life is about helping people
- What kind of delivery was it?
- Name Nyah earlier
- Don’t repeat the hook in the final sentence
- More Genre hook
And these are only the points easily made into bullet points.
My first question was ‘how?’ I only have a hundred words or so. Maybe not even that. The blurb above is 96 words, and I thought I was pushing it. According to a couple of reviewers, apparently not. They believed I should make it longer through the setting description.
I won’t walk you through my editing process, because it mostly involved a lot of staring at the screen and deleting everything I wrote.
I guess that the best option is to go for the lesser of two evils. Some people want it longer, some shorter, some want more details, others less and a bigger threat. The decision becomes, which do you think will please the largest number of people.
This is why I poll a large number of people. I tell them to be blunt, I tell them to be brutal… I tell them to rip it apart at every word if it needs it. I ask random groups of people I know through other hobbies, because they could be my readers.
In the end, after rewrites, I’ve come up with this:
A single life could liberate an entire race, but the life required may be hers.
Since the invasion of her home planet by the advanced and ruthless Adveni, Georgianna Lennox’s life as a Veniche medic isn’t as simple as it used to be. When a single infraction against the Adveni can lead to incarceration, slavery, or death, each life saved can hold harsh consequences.
A secret delivery into the infamous Lyndbury Prison Compound reveals that Georgianna’s friend Nyah has been sold into slavery. With the help of a group of rebels, the Belsa, an attempt to free a single slave ignites a plan that could rid the Veniche of the Adveni for good.
Unable to walk away, Georgianna finds herself pulled deep into a web of lies and cruelty that will either take Nyah’s life… or her own.
It’s still in the works, and it might change drastically by the time the book comes out, but I’m pretty proud of the progression so far.