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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BOOK’S BLURB
by Rayne Hall
The blurb (book description) on the book’s back cover and online product page is the most important part of the book. Almost everyone reads or at least skims it before deciding whether or not to buy. It probably plays a bigger role in your sales than any other factor.
IS THE BLURB TOO LONG?
If the book description goes on and on, the reader gets bored—and looks at the next book in the catalogue instead.
Many authors load their book description page with a lengthy synopsis, subplots, commentary, author bio, purchased reviews and other material, in the hope that this will persuade the reader to become interested in the book. But the reader who visits your product page is already interested. Don’t bore her away!
The description needs to stir the interest into an urgent desire to read the book, so the reader either clicks to get the free sample or to buy the book at once.
Shorten your blurb. Cut all superfluous material—you may be able to use it elsewhere in your promotions. Model your blurb’s length on that of the bestsellers of your genre. 200-800 words is usually enough.
IS IT TOO COMPLEX?
In an attempt to do the book justice and reflect every nuance of content, writers often cram too much into the blurb. This leaves the reader confused.
Better to focus on one aspect of the book, and present that well. Keep it simple.
Unlike a synopsis, the blurb should not reveal the plot. Otherwise, the reader doesn’t need to read the book to find out what happens.
A good blurb is a teaser. It presents an exciting situation that the reader can’t resist.
Keep it simple and get straight to the point.
For non-fiction, show what benefits the reader will get. (Example: Writing Fight Scenes: “Learn step-by-step how to create fictional fights which leave the reader breathless with excitement.”) Add some key features of the content.
For a novel, focus on the main character’s major goal and conflict. Leave out subplots, minor characters and all the enchanting details.
Focus on the first couple of chapters of your book. Leave out anything that comes later.
Do you have a tagline, logline, elevator pitch or similar short teaser for the book? Flesh it out with a couple more sentences, and you’ll have an irresistible blurb.
DOES IT FAIL TO GRAB?
Many blurbs leave the reader unmoved. Without emotional involvement, the reader doesn’t feel compelled to read the story.
Here’s a powerful method to make the reader care. Start the blurb with the character’s goal. Whatever the character wants or needs that sets the events in motion, state it. Example: “Debutante Arabella needs a husband.”
Add the reason why, but without explanations. Simply reveal what’s at stake or what the dire consequences of failure would be: “Debutante Arabella needs a husband, or her brother goes to prison.”
If you can create a sense of urgency by mentioning a deadline, even better: “Debutante Arabella needs a husband, and she needs him by Christmas, or her brother goes to prison.”
A sentence “[Character] needs [goal] before [deadline], otherwise [drastic consequences]” is an irresistible hook for any reader who enjoys the kind of story you’ve written.
Add another sentence creating an emotional dilemma: “But the only man she loves is betrothed to her best friend.”
Finish with a question. “How can she protect her brother without betraying her friend or her own heart?”
This gets the reader’s imagination going, and she’ll want to read the story.
IS IT WORDY AND WAFFLING?
Your writing style for the blurb needs to be exciting and punchy. Many blurbs are vague, clumsy, or cluttered with phrases that add no content.
Give every sentence at least one vivid verb and specific noun, and scrap most adjectives and adverbs.
Avoid Passive Voice sentence structure (“When her son is killed by native warriors…”) and use Active Voice where possible (“When native warriors kill her son…”).
Delete phrases that carry no content (“This book is about…” “This story tells how…” “What happens next…”)
Delete sentences in which the character thinks, considers, understands and realises things. Focus on the action.
Tighten the phrasing. Avoid “he starts/begins to” and “she finds herself”. Instead of “He starts to plot revenge” write “He plots revenge.” Instead of “She finds herself journeying into the jungle” write “She journeys into the jungle.”
DOES IT LACK THRILL WORDS?
Every genre has certain words which send delicious thrills down the reader’s spine and get her imagination going. They signal that this book contains the kind of story she loves.
In Regency Romance, words like ‘ball, governess, rake, rogue, elopement, scandal’ capture the reader’s imagination, while for Westerns it may be ‘stagecoach, sheriff, outlaw, hanging, posse, saloon’ and for High Fantasy ‘sword, wizard, enchanted, magic, prophecy, quest’. They act as an open-sesame.
If your blurb lacks the magic words, the reader will move on to look at another book.
Make a list of the thrill words of your genre (or genres, if your book straddles several). Choose the ones which fit your story and insert two or more into your blurb.
MISTAKES I MADE AND LEARNT FROM
For a short while, I believed the ‘gurus’ who urged authors to make blurbs as long as possible. I wrote 2000-word blurbs and stuffed them with keywords. When book sales dropped instead of rising, I realised that readers don’t want to read long blurbs. They want to read books.
Are you a fantasy reader who enjoys pairing the characters off in romantic relationships? Do you sometimes wish a fantasy novel would spend more time on the characters, go a little deeper into what makes them tick? If so, fantasy romance is the genre for you.
When I started writing my own fantasy novels, I found myself beginning not with situations but with characters. I spent a lot of time on worldbuilding, but I didn’t create my characters for the purpose of revealing the world. Rather, I created my world for the purpose of revealing the characters. My first novel (never published) was about two men on an adventure. They were a mage and a thief, essentially, and I put them in constant conflict with each other.
Someone beta-read the novel and was confused. “It reads like a buddy movie,” he said. Yes, it was supposed to! The reader seemed to think a fantasy novel couldn’t spend so much time on the characters and their relationship. Maybe that novel didn’t work, but I knew that writing about characters and relationships was what I wanted to do.
I’d been reading science fiction and fantasy since childhood. I discovered the romance genre later in life, and when I did, I realized this was what I’d been missing. Here were the character-driven books I’d been looking for. This was the genre I was meant to write. But I didn’t want to give up my fantasy worlds and magic and dragons. So I started writing romances that took place in fantasy worlds.
Fantasy romance novels sit astride two genres. They are romance novels, fulfilling all the requirements of the romance genre. And they are fantasy novels, fulfilling all the requirements of the fantasy genre. I aim for a 50/50 split between romantic content and fantasy adventure content.
At this point I don’t even know how to write a novel that’s not fantasy romance. Having two intertwined storylines gives me so much narrative freedom, as well as advantages in pacing. We’ve just had a big action scene as part of the adventure storyline? It’s time for a quieter scene focused on the romance. My romantic couple just had a big fight and they’re not speaking to each other? Get them together with new developments in the adventure storyline that force them into contact.
Adding magic to a romantic relationship can be all kinds of fun. I had a great time writing the playful love scenes in one novel, in which the man had the power to turn invisible. Magic can also serve as an equalizer for female characters. I enjoy writing powerful, magically gifted heroines.
When I started writing fantasy romance, I thought I was the only person doing it. I’d never read a novel in this hybrid genre in my life—although several novels shelved in the fantasy section might have qualified (one by Ellen Kushner, several by Barbara Hambly).
But I was wrong. I wasn’t the only one. It’s a lesser known genre, but a few fantasy romance authors have been published by Penguin, and self-publishing has really flung open the doors for fantasy romance, adding many talented authors to the mix. We’re an emerging genre, and we’re building steam. The world is full of readers who grew up reading fantasy novels and also love romance. Those are the readers we’re writing for.
By and large, 90s was about wondrous adventures and hilarious hijinks along the way. Since the early 00s, it took a turn toward the night along with society at large. Here are some of the main differences that happened beyond the Post-Millennial Shift, due in no small part to the events of 9/11/01. Which is better? That’s for the ages to decide.
5) Light vs Dark
The 90s gave us Discworld, Jumanji, and Early Harry Potter. These were light stories, about character facing troubles, and dealing with issues, but of a relatively narrow scope and tied to their lives almost personally, allowing them to learn and grow
After 2000, we got the Da Vinci Code, the Kite Runner, and Later HP, where we learned our faith may be misplaced, the horrors humans are capable of, and the need to save the world from evil.
4) Fantastic Escapism vs Gritty Realism
Instead of the journey and adventures of Hercules, 3 Star Treks, and the 5th Element, we have the harsh tones, bleak outlooks, and moral ambiguity of The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and zombie-everything.
3) Sense of Wonder vs Sense of Woe
We once had a sense of wonder and comedy in Jurassic Park, Gattaca, and Men in Black. Now we have the tragedy and tumult of Twilight, Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones.
2) The Televolution of TV
Television has experienced an evolution since 2000. Instead of formulaic shows with a weekly story, the advent of DVDs, time shifting, and now streaming has led to television delving deeper into itself, with richer characters, season-long or even series-long plots with more layers than a Kardashian wedding cake, and some of the best writing and acting talent migrating to TV away from movies.
1) more More MORE
With the internet, we have more of everything. Webisodes, eBooks, Webcomics, YouTube clips, hash tags, community tags, reality TV, refined reality TV, and the constant need for content from 500 channels of cable and 20+ screen theaters. Think about that – in less than 100 years, we’ve gone from 1 movie every month or so, to over 200 movies produced every year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up, and neither can anyone!