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:
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!