#InkRipples: How much of your story should be in your blurb?

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Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples challenge, and we’re talking about blurbs. Since my debut, Keeper of the Dawn, came out last month, I’ve been thinking about blurbs a lot. Especially because although I didn’t write the blurb for Keeper of the Dawn, I will eventually be writing my own blurbs when I self publish.

So today I’d like to tackle one of the most important questions in blurb writing: how much of the story should you include? We’ll be using Keeper of the Dawn‘s blurb as the main example, but I’d love you to share some of your favourites (or least favourites) in the comments section!

Before we dive into the discussion, let’s take a look at the blurb for Keeper of the Dawn:
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Blurb for Keeper of the Dawn

Sometimes failure is just the beginning

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

My initial reaction

Let me start by saying I had literally nothing to do with this blurb. The Book Smugglers, my lovely little publisher, worked with a publicist to create the blurb. I saw it pretty late in the process, and had no input whatsoever.

Part of me was relieved that they had gone ahead and created the blurb without me. I’m eyeballs deep in a new fantasy series right now, and Keeper of the Dawn feels like it was a lifetime ago. Coming up with a blurb on my own would have been an incredibly frustrating process.

But when I actually read the blurb I had incredibly mixed feelings. The tag line is incredible, but the actual blurb? I couldn’t help feeling like it was too long, like it gave too much away. The blurb tells you about 70% of the story, which initially seemed insane.

That said, I trust my publisher and publicist to make good marketing decisions on my behalf, so I gave it another chance. Well, several more. I probably read it about a dozen times.

My final decision

First, a confession: deciding how much of the story to tell in the blurb would have been my main dilemma if I wrote it myself. Keeper of the Dawn is a short book, and some of the most powerful themes–namely the sweet f/f romance–don’t appear until very late in the story. I wanted these themes to be mentioned because they’re important to me personally, but also because they’re marketable. People in the LGBTQ+ community are tired of seeing their stories end in tragedy, and they often devour little books like mine just for the happy ending.

It was this final fact that led me to accept my blurb without question. Keeper of the Dawn isn’t a story where spoilers matter. It’s a light, moderately fluffy read. The kind of thing I want people to pick up when they’re feeling down and they need an infusion of hope. The comfort food of books.

Most of my other books are a lot darker, and in their blurbs I’ll avoid spoilers like the plague, but in this case telling a massive portion of the story in the blurb makes sense.

Have you ever seen a blurb that spoiled too much? Or told too little? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

4 thoughts on “#InkRipples: How much of your story should be in your blurb?

  1. I like the blurb that you shared – it piques my interest in your book. That is an amazing cover as well 🙂

    A recent book that I enjoyed is The Name of the Wind, which also reveals much of its plot in the blurb. I think for stories that focus on character development and the relationships between characters, this may not be a bad thing. If I care about the characters, I will continue on reading just to find out about how they react to a scenario and how they interact with the other characters.

    I also agree that LGBT books should be transparent about this in the blurb, just so that there are no surprises for the readers.

    Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂 I am a new writer, currently working on the fourth draft of my first novel. I am not looking to publishing any time soon but it is always great to hear from a published author.

    • Post Author dlgunn

      I’m glad you like the blurb! I was definitely impressed, even though initially I wasn’t sure if this much of the story should be shared. And I agree–in fact, I think the best books are the ones where you can know a significant amount of story in advance and still be curious enough about the details to read/watch the whole thing.

      Good luck with your novel draft & thanks for stopping by!

  2. This is the exact same thing that I struggled with when writing the blurb for my first book. Like you, my book contains LGBT+ characters, but it doesn’t become apparent until a significant way through the plot–and, in my case, revealing exactly WHO and which letter applies to them, spoils something big. I did WANT to use the blurb to make it obvious. I agree that too many times it’s hidden away, and it makes it harder for the LGBT+ community to find “their” books.

    Sometimes I still wish I’d found a way to include it, but in the end, I erred on the side of avoiding spoilers. My decision was based on two factors: 1) as a reader, I REALLY dislike it when blurbs reveal too much of the story to me and so I don’t want to “ruin” surprises for others who feel the same, and 2) the fact that some characters are LGBT+ really doesn’t begin to play out and have significant impacts on the plot until the second book onward. I DO include it in the keywords, though, so at least if someone is searching for things like “lesbian fantasy novel”, it should be in the results somewhere. 🙂

    • Post Author dlgunn

      If I had written the blurb myself, I probably would’ve erred on the side of avoiding spoilers too–but looking back I’m glad that my publisher erred on the side of making it 100% clear that there’s a queer romance story line, because this is one of those rare books where queer characters actually get a Happily Ever After and I know so many people who need that kind of story in their life right now.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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