Book Blurbs are Hard

AUWJust recently, I queried Indies Unlimited about listing my book as one of their Featured Books. Everything about my book passed muster with flying colors [cover, reviews, author pages, preview], everything except the book blurb. Kat, who has been very helpful, said that my book blurb is confusing. And to be honest it is/was. Mostly because I know what the book is about, but condensing it down into 200 or so words is more difficult than I imagined.

The problem is that An Untold Want is a women’s literary novel, not a romance, nor is it a urban-fantasy, even though it has witches and ghosts. And a young suitor.

Maggie is the main character, and she has issues, with everything, especially her family heritage. She grew up in a world where gossip is truth, and image is everything. Witch is not the story. It’s a factor in the story. Same when it comes to romance.

So I don’t want to represent it as an urban-fantasy[or romance] novel. Yes, there are witches. Yes, there is a relationship, actually several of them in the book, but calling it an urban-fantasy or romance novel is missing the mark by a long shot, and misleading the reader. It’s about three women finding their self-worth. The romance and witches are elements used to make it a deeper, more well-rounded story.

I’m frustrated with myself, with how difficult it is to put all that into 200 or so words, to get the tone just right so that the potential reader will want to purchase it and be happy with their purchase. You see, I bought into the whole idea of cross-genre books that people like Donald Maass are pitching, because it sounds like the best of all worlds, but in general the reader population hasn’t really bought into it.  They see witches and think urban fantasy.  Same when it comes to romance.

So how do I write a book blurb that expresses all of that without putting off the reader, without it coming across as boring or condescending? I can’t write: This is a book about witches and love, but it’s not about witches and love.

Today, I contacted Lisa, my editor and friend. We reviewed the advice Kat gave me, which Lisa backed wholeheartedly, and we worked on re-writing my book blurb. I’m on about my tenth re-write, with Lisa, as she says, adjusting my direction.

This is what I’m going to submit to Kat:

Being born into a family of witches in a small Georgia town is more than enough to brand Maggie MacAllister a social pariah. In the fifteen years since she came home from college with a PhD, baby Liz, and no husband, she has withdrawn from life, from a world where gossip is truth and image is all that matters.

Maggie just wants a normal life, maybe even a husband, but everyone knows that any man who falls for a MacAllister woman dies in the prime of life. So, even though Maggie sees herself as a rational, science-minded person, her family and its history weighs on her, colors her life in deep shades of loneliness and self-doubt.

When a medical emergency befalls her daughter, Maggie is forced to examine the choices she has made. Forced to let others into her rigid, cloistered lifestyle. Forced to recognize a potential, and younger, suitor. But will she be able to overcome her fear of what others think of her and accept her heritage? And if she does, will she be able to protect the people important to her from the small town dogma and drama and still find happiness?

If,  for whatever reasons, you’re having the same problems:

Lisa is now taking new clients if you’re looking for someone to help you polish your book [or book blurb], and the Indies Unlimited reference on writing book blurbs,  The Blurb Doctor is In, is an excellent starting place.

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