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View Full Version : Put a blurb on the freaking book!



kaitie
05-11-2012, 07:30 PM
Okay, I just wanted to rant because I know folks around here can commiserate. ;)

I went into a bookstore yesterday and I see a book with a cool cover and a cool title. So I pick it up and turn it over to read the blurb. There is no blurb, just a giant photo of the author.

So I think, "Alright, this is one of those blurb on the first page sort of books." I open the front cover, and rather than a blurb, there are three pages of quotes by random people telling me the book is awesome, you should buy it! No blurb anywhere in sight.

Needless to say I put the book back on the shelf. But seriously, what are publishers thinking when they do stuff like this?

I might be in the minority her, but I honestly don't give a damn what an author looks like. I'd rather have a blurb and no picture than a picture and no blurb. The picture doesn't tell me anything about the book, and what the author looks like is meaningless to my enjoyment.

And if you're going to have a picture, at least put the blurb at the front of the book so I can find out what it's about. It doesn't do me any good to know that thirty people loved it--if it's a book that turns out to be about people hunting terrorists in Iraq, that's not a book I'd want to read no matter how many people loved it because I just don't enjoy those books.

It makes me think of how agents say the query letter has to tell them what the book is about. How can a reader know if the book sounds interesting if we don't even have a basic idea of the plot? And seriously...what's the logic here? Is the thought that the author is so famous people will buy a book based on his name alone? And if so, how can you expect new readers to pick it up? Wouldn't it be beneficial, no matter what, to put a blurb on it?

HoneyBadger
05-11-2012, 07:35 PM
It depends for me. I almost *ALWAYS* like watching movies without knowing a damn thing about them other than general genre, and sometimes I like reading a book without knowing anything about the plot or author, but not other times.

But yeah, I'd rather see review-bites than just an author photo for sure.

Kerosene
05-11-2012, 07:37 PM
You don't need to know what the book is about. All you need to know is how many people like/were-payed-off.

JK

(Stupid joke incoming) Maybe it was a mystery novel?

ladybritches
05-11-2012, 07:38 PM
I'm with you, Kaitie. Tell me what the book is about or I'm not taking it home.

Mr Flibble
05-11-2012, 07:40 PM
I feel your pain Kaitie. Annoys the heck out of me (pfft, I get annoyed when the blurb isn't on the back, but all I get is 'Superb!' by some writer I've never heard of....)

However, I suppose it might work if it was someone like say Stephen King, or La Nora. When you pick up a King, you know what sort of book it's going to be, roughly.

But most other writers-yeah, I'd like to know what it's about. Just the gist - or even the genre!

Kerosene
05-11-2012, 07:40 PM
I'm with you, Kaitie. Tell me what the book is about or I'm not taking it home.

I can't stand when the cover show some fantasy picture, or doesn't and is visa-versa.

"Oh a man in a suit," *turns over to read blurb*, "Tim is a wizard... Hmm..."

kaitie
05-11-2012, 07:42 PM
(Stupid joke incoming) Maybe it was a mystery novel?

Haha, it was a thriller, actually. Maybe they thought it was more thrilling to find out the hard way!

Mr Flibble
05-11-2012, 07:43 PM
Come to think of it, I've seen this on Amazon too--no blurb, but lots of what people have thought of it. Annoying

MJNL
05-11-2012, 07:44 PM
I assume they were going for author recognition with the whole photo thing. But if you didn't recognize her, obviously it wasn't a selling point.

I'm the sort of person who rarely reads a blurb (I'm a first-few pages sort of browser), BUT I like to know it's there. Actually, a string of quotes is typically a bad sign--I tend to dislike books that are overly-praised on their covers (a pattern I've noticed over the years). So, even if I don't read the blurb, just having one seems to signal that the publisher is confident the story will sell itself.

jjdebenedictis
05-11-2012, 07:46 PM
Oh, yes! This!

Like the HoneyBadger, I prefer to not see trailers for movies I go watch, but I absolutely do want a blurb on a book.

I never read the quotes. I also don't care what the author looks like. I hardly ever read the bio. All I want to know is whether this book is my sort of thing.

The title or cover image lures me in, the blurb is what convinces me this book might be my cup of tea, and the first few pages are an acid test to see whether I'll be able to tolerate the writing style.

But if you leave off the blurb? You interrupt that chain of events, and I, too, will simply put the book back on the shelf.

kaitie
05-11-2012, 07:47 PM
I feel your pain Kaitie. Annoys the heck out of me (pfft, I get annoyed when the blurb isn't on the back, but all I get is 'Superb!' by some writer I've never heard of....)

However, I suppose it might work if it was someone like say Stephen King, or La Nora. When you pick up a King, you know what sort of book it's going to be, roughly.

But most other writers-yeah, I'd like to know what it's about. Just the gist - or even the genre!

Well, I deduced the genre from the section of the store it was in. I think part of the problem, for me, is that often I might like certain books in a genre but not others. Like the previous example is true. I love thrillers, I like spy novels, and so on, but I don't like reading terrorists and I really don't like terrorists from Iraq and stuff. Similarly, I like certain fantasy books, but I don't really get into the really epic, dragons and orcs and elves sort of fantasy books, so the only time I read them is when they come recommended.

Similarly, I like some mysteries, but if I read "Main character trying to overcome his drinking problem as he suffers through his tragic past," I won't even pick it up anymore.

If I'm spending money on it, I want to know that I'm at least likely getting a book I'd enjoy. In this case, I'd never even heard of the author. Clearly he is famous enough that he's expected to sell on name recognition alone, but I hadn't heard of him.

kaitie
05-11-2012, 07:48 PM
Come to think of it, I've seen this on Amazon too--no blurb, but lots of what people have thought of it. Annoying

This drives me really nuts on Amazon. You aren't suffering a lack of space there. You can put it all up. I honestly have no idea what the logic is. It just seems like basic common sense to me.

kaitie
05-11-2012, 07:53 PM
I assume they were going for author recognition with the whole photo thing. But if you didn't recognize her, obviously it wasn't a selling point.

But the photo is on the back of the book...you'd have to turn it over to find out, and even then you could still have author recognition with a small photo on the back. One of the ones I bought even has the author photo covering half of the back and the blurb on top. You'd get photo recognition when people pick it up and turn it over, and then those of us who don't have a clue who it is (I'm terrible with faces in general) can still know what it's about.


I'm the sort of person who rarely reads a blurb (I'm a first-few pages sort of browser), BUT I like to know it's there. Actually, a string of quotes is typically a bad sign--I tend to dislike books that are overly-praised on their covers (a pattern I've noticed over the years). So, even if I don't read the blurb, just having one seems to signal that the publisher is confident the story will sell itself.

Lol...maybe the author turned in a plot that was just totally lame and the publisher was like, "Okay, we have to salvage this somehow. No one is going to buy a thriller about a biologist chasing down the cuddly monkeys that escaped from the zoo. I know...bring on the quotes!"

Mr Flibble
05-11-2012, 07:53 PM
This drives me really nuts on Amazon. You aren't suffering a lack of space there. You can put it all up. I honestly have no idea what the logic is. It just seems like basic common sense to me.


Exactly - obviously with a book you go with what you can fit on the back/inside flap if it has one. But if you're free for space....well, why wouldn't you tell people what it's about?

Maybe if we leave cupcakes and whiskey we could lure Torgo in to see if he knows why this gets done. :D (Though I suspect I know the answer - they think it will sell more books. But...)

kaitie
05-11-2012, 07:56 PM
Oh, yes! This!

Like the HoneyBadger, I prefer to not see trailers for movies I go watch, but I absolutely do want a blurb on a book.

I never read the quotes. I also don't care what the author looks like. I hardly ever read the bio. All I want to know is whether this book is my sort of thing.

The title or cover image lures me in, the blurb is what convinces me this book might be my cup of tea, and the first few pages are an acid test to see whether I'll be able to tolerate the writing style.

But if you leave off the blurb? You interrupt that chain of events, and I, too, will simply put the book back on the shelf.

You know...I wonder if it's a tactic to try to get people to read a couple of pages and get hooked. If there's no blurb, the only way to find out what it's about is to read the opening, right? It did have a short prologue, so maybe that was the intention.

I don't like to read beginnings unless I finish the book, though, and writing style is something I can get over if the story rocks, so I don't read samples. But maybe that was the reason. They're thinking that if they can get a reader to look at the first couple of pages they'll be in?

ETA: I don't really understand how it is supposed to sell more, IRU. That's what kind of blows my mind about this. I can understand how making an author's name huge on a cover can sell more to fans of that author (I don't read blurbs for my favorite. I just buy the book off the shelf). But wouldn't you maximize sales if you were able to appeal to each potential reader? Those who know the authors and those who don't? And there are even some authors who I might enjoy sometimes, but I don't read every book they write.

Or here's another problem. Yesterday I bought a Peter Straub book. I've read one before and enjoyed it. I wanted to get another, so I read some blurbs and picked the one that sounded best. If I'd had two books without blurbs, how would I have picked between the two? I guess maybe some people would have bought both, but I wouldn't have chosen either.

folkchick
05-11-2012, 08:01 PM
I hate that too. If a description can't be found, I put it back on the shelf. I'll even look at the inside pages for a blurb or snippet and sometimes there's more praise quotes and still no book description!! Very frustrating.

Similar, but not the same, are old clothbound books. There's no way of knowing if they previously owned a dust jacket with a blurb and author bio. Sometimes it's fun to go ahead and read them just to see what's inside. I guess the same can be said for modern books--but it's still annoying.

Mr Flibble
05-11-2012, 08:04 PM
ETA: I don't really understand how it is supposed to sell more, IRU. That's what kind of blows my mind about this.

I don't either. Hence the trail of whiskey and cup cakes.

dolores haze
05-11-2012, 08:07 PM
I have a little part time gig in a used book store and those blurbless books are the bane of my existence. How do I shelve a book if I don't know where it belongs? I just hazard a guess from the covers and hope I'm not putting something erotic in the inspirational romance section. Speaking of inspirational romance - there seems to be a habit forming of not mentioning God, Jesus, faith, or any of those other key words in the blurb. Bloody annoying!

Toothpaste
05-11-2012, 08:08 PM
I am totally with you, I need to know a basic idea what the story is about before I dive in. I am not interested in who liked the book, I know what I like, and I'll make that judgment for myself :) .

Question though, did you look at the inside cover flap for the blurb? Not just the first few pages? Often that's where blurbs find themselves.

kaitie
05-11-2012, 08:09 PM
I hadn't even thought of it being hard for a bookseller. I could see that information being in the computer, but it would be such a hassle to have to go look it up each time.

dolores haze
05-11-2012, 08:10 PM
Computer? LOL!

kaitie
05-11-2012, 08:10 PM
I am totally with you, I need to know a basic idea what the story is about before I dive in. I am not interested in who liked the book, I know what I like, and I'll make that judgment for myself :) .

Question though, did you look at the inside cover flap for the blurb? Not just the first few pages? Often that's where blurbs find themselves.

It was a paperback, so the inside cover was blank. The facing page had testimonials on it, as did the next three pages. Then just the copyright info and the prologue. I actually searched three times because I was sure I was missing something. :tongue

Toothpaste
05-11-2012, 08:13 PM
Ugh, how stupidly annoying. I too would have put the book down and moved on at that. :P

Soccer Mom
05-11-2012, 08:16 PM
ANother here who won't buy blurbless books. I don't need the whole plot (thank you, movie trailers, for spoiling the entire thing) but give me an idea. I'm often in the mood for a specific thing. If I'm looking for a good cozy mystery set in an English village, I don't want to grab a techno-thriller set in D.C.

LJD
05-11-2012, 08:16 PM
Agree. though I don't come across this too often. And when I do, it's mainly books like "The Catcher in the Rye."

juniper
05-11-2012, 08:41 PM
I don't take home a book without some idea of what it's about. The cover art is key to catching my eye (unless it's shelved spined), the title too, but the blurb is what I look at before reading a few random paragraphs. I want to know an idea of the storyline.

So for me these are the important elements (not equally weighted, not listed in importance, all depends on my mood at that moment)
Cover
Title
Blurb
First few paragraphs, then maybe something in the middle
Author (if known, do I like/not like)

So pretty much the whole package, I guess. A bad cover or title might delay my picking it up, but a missing blurb will pretty much guarantee a no sale.

Phaeal
05-11-2012, 09:11 PM
For authors I don't know, I buy strictly on the success of the first few pages to seduce me. However, to get me to read those first few pages, I must have a brief plot description.

Author photos interest me not at all (unless the author is Viggo Mortensen), and I never read endorsements.

As for the book that inspired this thread, if I was really intrigued, I might have looked it up on Goodreads for a synopsis. But more likely I'd have forgotten all about it before I got to a keyboard.

kaitie
05-11-2012, 09:20 PM
Yeah, I don't even remember the name/author anymore, and this was just yesterday. I'm sure if I really cared, I could have written it down, but honestly I got five other books. There were so many at that store that I wanted to read that I just picked another instead.

Anaquana
05-11-2012, 09:37 PM
I'm right there with you. Those blurbless books stay on the shelf unless I know what it's about from somewhere else.

Another thing I hate is when I'm browsing the bookstore and pick up a book that looks interesting and is obviously part of a series, but there's no indication anywhere on the book where it falls in the series. No list of other titles on an inside page, no "The bestselling author of Previous Book" on the cover, and none of the other books by the author list any of those either.

Mr Flibble
05-11-2012, 09:39 PM
Another thing I hate is when I'm browsing the bookstore and pick up a book that looks interesting and is obviously part of a series, but there's no indication anywhere on the book where it falls in the series.

I've been burnt by this a time or two- they need flashing neon lights or something. *This is BOOK TWO!!*

kaitie
05-11-2012, 10:07 PM
I agree. I've bought second or third books a few times. Granted, I general avoid series in general, but yeah. I'm reading the Dresden Files right now and there's no indication on my copy (that I can remember) telling what order they go in. I'm looking it up online to find out.

Mr Flibble
05-11-2012, 10:21 PM
Actually, the Dresden books are all self contained (iirc...). There IS an order, but it doesn't affect each book much (if at all - maybe in the last couple?) if you read out of order.

Priene
05-11-2012, 10:27 PM
[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]I assume they were going for author recognition with the whole photo thing.

Could be a major problem for us faceblind types. I could maybe recognise Salman Rushdie and possibly Rowling at a pinch. Every other writer looks pretty much like any other to me.

Torgo
05-11-2012, 10:31 PM
Exactly - obviously with a book you go with what you can fit on the back/inside flap if it has one. But if you're free for space....well, why wouldn't you tell people what it's about?

Maybe if we leave cupcakes and whiskey we could lure Torgo in to see if he knows why this gets done. :D (Though I suspect I know the answer - they think it will sell more books. But...)

MMMmmm delicious cupcakes and ... what!! Oh. OK. Well, I guess that probably is the reason, though my response to that if it were suggested to me by a designer would be "Are you high?" It does not appear to be a particularly good tactic.

That goes double for Amazon; our back cover copy gets inputted into our bibliographic database, and this is then picked up in various feeds which go out to populate external retailer databases like the big A. If you can't rely on the gorgeousness of the physical object to sell it, and the cover art is reduced to a thumbnail, I think you'd have to at least write some copy for web use. Dim, if you ask me.

seun
05-11-2012, 10:32 PM
This is a running joke at work. We get books that are nominated (or have won) big awards and they come with a load of reviews on the back, telling you how great the book is and how it's won the big awards. No word about the plot or story or characters.

Then we get the, for want of a better word, normal books. Blurbs galore. Guess which ones people are still checking out six months later and which ones are sitting on the shelves, gathering dust.

It drives me nuts. It's like plot or story are unimportant. I couldn't give a toss what someone I dont know thought of it. I'll work it out for myself, thanks.

Torgo
05-11-2012, 10:33 PM
Another thing I hate is when I'm browsing the bookstore and pick up a book that looks interesting and is obviously part of a series, but there's no indication anywhere on the book where it falls in the series. No list of other titles on an inside page, no "The bestselling author of Previous Book" on the cover, and none of the other books by the author list any of those either.

In YA at least, I think you have to put a number or something on the book cover (unless you had a brilliant idea, like Sue Grafton once did, which makes that unnecessary.)

Katrina S. Forest
05-11-2012, 10:45 PM
I've been burnt by this a time or two- they need flashing neon lights or something. *This is BOOK TWO!!*

Oh, gosh yes. Especially when certain second books have blurbs that give a major spoiler for the first book: "After finding out that his best friend was the one who murdered his goldfish, Bob Boberson tries to piece his fishless life back together..."

One time my husband recommended a book series that he hadn't read in a while and handed me what he thought was the first book. When I started reading and described what events I'd gotten to, he gave the book a closer inspection and realized he'd accidentally given me the second book. ^_^

Torgo
05-11-2012, 10:49 PM
I believe the back cover blurb of the latest George RR Martin gives away a pretty massive plot spoiler.

thepopeofbeers
05-11-2012, 10:50 PM
I guess I'd be okay with a giant photo of the author if the author was hot. And shirtless.

Theo81
05-11-2012, 11:04 PM
I took home Pure by Julianna Baggot without knowing anything about it other than it was some kind of dystopia yoke, had a quote from Justin Cronin, and had a lovely rubbery cover. It did have a blurb, but the genius at my local library had stuck the library date page over it. Great cover - not my sort of book (too YA for me).

My personal prize for the worst blurb ever goes to Chris Cleeve's The Other Hand (which I think is published as Little Bee in the US).

I've thieved this from Amazon (in the copy I read, there was a letter from the book's editor with the same gist as this.).


We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.

Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this:



It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.


The story starts there, but the book doesn't.


And it's what happens afterwards that is most important.



Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.


If anybody put anything like that on something I wrote, I wouldn't just sack them, I would burn their children. It's also desperately inaccurate and does the book (which is all right) a massive disservice.
I picked that one up because (at that time) Cleeve wrote a regular amusing column in my Saturday newspaper. I genuinely thought it was going to be a funny book and that was supposed to be part of the joke.

me-a-monsteR
05-11-2012, 11:09 PM
Interesting discussion. When I buy a book at a bookstore, I have a process. Step 1: see funtastic cover with title that draws me into its hypnotic spell. Step 2: pick up, flip over, salivating to read blurb. Step 3: blurb read, open book at random page to see if writing style will annoy me. Then, comes the to buy or not to buy step. If there is no blurb, I drop it like it's hot. Author photos mean nothing. Why must I know what you look like? This book is not about you, author... er... unless it's your memoirs. Quotes mean nothing, since tastes differ. I've read books that competent authors praise, but ended up disagreeing. I like to make up my own mind. As for the series qualm. I tend to start series in the middle - I'm crazy, I know. But yes, a flashing neon sign indicating order would be nice.

elindsen
05-11-2012, 11:17 PM
A book with no blurb just seems odd to me. Luckily I haven't come across this :)

I was lucky with the book in a series thing. When Borders was going under I bought a book for dirt cheap. It turned out to be the first in the series and is now my favorite series. BTW-it is written by a AWer

cmi0616
05-11-2012, 11:21 PM
So I think, "Alright, this is one of those blurb on the first page sort of books." I open the front cover, and rather than a blurb, there are three pages of quotes by random people telling me the book is awesome, you should buy it! No blurb anywhere in sight.


This and the lack of blurb are two of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to books. It's almost laughable when lesser-known authors put quotes from random sources that nobody's ever heard of about how great their book is. And usually, unless it's a classic or has been strongly recommended to me by somebody I know, if there's no blurb I won't buy it.

Torgo
05-11-2012, 11:42 PM
If anybody put anything like that on something I wrote, I wouldn't just sack them, I would burn their children. It's also desperately inaccurate and does the book (which is all right) a massive disservice.

There is a laudable impulse in a lot of publishers to write copy that is distinctive - a lot of cover copy sounds the same. We fall back on the same tired tricks and voice much of the time, and it's good to shake that up now and again and be innovative. That letter from the editor, though, is too coy and tricksy to be anything other than annoying.

One of the most effective bits of cover copy I've read for a while was Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible, which is simply the first paragraph of the book, and doesn't get into plot at all:


"This morning on planet Earth, there are 1,686 enhanced, gifted, or otherwise superpowered persons. 678 use their powers to fight crime, while 441 use their powers to commit them. 44 are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals. Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or more -- eighteen to be exact. Including me. You really have to wonder why we all end up in jail."

Sadly the book doesn't quite live up to the promise. But it's interesting, right? And it cuts out the extra step of reading the first page of the book, which most people who pick it up won't bother with.

heyjude
05-11-2012, 11:53 PM
Yep. No way would I buy a book with no blurb. Well, unless it was by an author I knew really, really well and trusted to deliver (Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly... those're the only ones that comes to mind off the top of my head).

Stlight
05-12-2012, 12:09 AM
No blurb - no sale. I don't care about the author's photo, in fact I'd rather not see it. Bites of praise from people and newspapers I've never heard of don't impress me. Neither do those from some people I have heard of.

Yes, I'd like to know the book's number in it's series, particularly when each book in the series is dependent on the one before it and there is no ending until book a gizzillion. If there isn't an ending, I want To Be Continued on the last page, because you can be sure I'll look for that in any series.

AND if the publisher doesn't give me the to be continued and numbers when dependent on each other, the author is going on the Do Not Buy List. If it happens more than once with a publisher, then that specific line in that publisher's house is on the DNB list. Fair is fair and I doubt it's really the author's fault.

PEBKAC
05-12-2012, 05:03 AM
I've run into the same thing, and right back on the shelf it goes. I won't buy a book without a blurb. I can't even imagine that business decision. Any idea what the logic is behind blurbless books?

flapperphilosopher
05-12-2012, 05:29 AM
Haha, that makes me crazy!!! The worst for me is no blurb, AND all the quotes on the back are for the author's other books.... seriously?? I'll only, ONLY overlook it if I'd read about the book in an article somewhere and already decided it sounded interesting, but if I have no idea what it's about? No way. Only my absolute favourite authors get that kind of trust, and even then, I'd rather have some idea.

Bogna
05-12-2012, 06:18 AM
This is a huge pet peeve of mine, I need the damn blurb. I may have a smart phone, but I refuse to have to pull it our and Google the damn book just to find out what its about. This is like those damn medication commercials that don't tell you what the medication does.

If I want to see a photo of an author or learn more about them, I will look up their website.

G. Applejack
05-12-2012, 06:58 AM
I come across the same thing while browsing for free books on Kindle Boards.

"Hey all! I just put a book out. Smarmy McNotASockPuppet says it's the best thing since sliced bread! Check it out at (Amazon link)."

Uh... Kay thanks, but could you at least hint a genre?

Books without blurbs in bookstores are the worst, though. I'm also wondering what is the business decision behind it?

kaitie
05-12-2012, 06:59 AM
I will admit that I did once buy a blurbless book with quotes on the back page instead. It was remaindered and something like two dollars, though, and I thought the cover was funny. I'd not have done that if it wasn't super cheap, though.

Libbie
05-12-2012, 06:04 PM
Yeah, last time I bought a book without a blurb was...the last time I'll ever buy a book without a blurb. Unless I'm really familiar with general opinion of that book on Goodreads. Otherwise, I've been burned enough thankyoukindly. I've begun to think the reason why publishers go blurbless for some book is because THE PLOT IS INCREDIBLY BORING. And I love literary fiction, damn it, and will forgive a slim plot in favor of pretty writing. But only to a certain degree. Dorothy Allison, I am looking at you.

Phaeal
05-12-2012, 08:58 PM
I guess I'd be okay with a giant photo of the author if the author was hot. And shirtless.

And Viggo Mortensen, don't forget.

Theo81
05-13-2012, 12:01 PM
There is a laudable impulse in a lot of publishers to write copy that is distinctive - a lot of cover copy sounds the same. We fall back on the same tired tricks and voice much of the time, and it's good to shake that up now and again and be innovative. That letter from the editor, though, is too coy and tricksy to be anything other than annoying.


Particularly for anybody who had read Cleave's first novel, Incendiary. That kind of thing might have worked, but not for that book.

kaitie
05-13-2012, 11:31 PM
And Viggo Mortensen, don't forget.

In this case, it might be worth foregoing the front cover.

WildScribe
05-14-2012, 12:06 AM
I've noticed the huge author photo with Stephen King and Nora Roberts, and I find it sort of annoying. I don't know about King, but Roberts at least usually has the blurb in the first few pages. But, really, I don't care what you look like, just tell me about the book!

lorna_w
05-14-2012, 02:04 AM
I've been put off (and I'll admit, probably unfairly) by big photos of lovely authors since I heard editor Nan Talese describe the book buying process between agents and editors. "He'd call me and say 'I have a book you'll like,' and I'll say, 'What does the author look like?'"

WTF? What does the author LOOK like? (She said this easily 20 years ago, and you can see I'm still p.o.'ed about it.) So if I'm not beautiful or thin or young or white or slathered in makeup or tattooed or whatever today's definition of "beauty" is, and I've written the next To Kill a Mockingbird, I wouldn't get five pages read? No wonder I've read so many crappy novels these past 20 years, with criteria like those!

Also, those author reviews, I always check them again acknowledgements. If you're just being blurbed by your buddies, I'm not impressed. Indeed, I'm put off. Perhaps I'm being as unfair as Talese, here, but the evidence is piling up now. You're young and actor-beautiful and you hang out with a hip group of young writers and you all blurb each other...so when have you had time/opportunity to develop any insights into human nature? I'll pass on that book, thanks very much.

I like a nice plot synopsis myself. And I always flip to a random page and read, and if it's the page where you missed seeing that dangling modifier, or went wild with said bookisms, I also don't take the book with me. I'm a tough audience, I suppose.

Jamesaritchie
05-14-2012, 02:05 AM
Well, a blurb is someone telling you it's a great book. I ignore those. The jacket synopsis is another story, and I want to read it.

Are you sure it wasn't inside the book? I'd say half the paperbacks I've bought the last few years have the synopsis inside, sometimes on the cover, and sometimes on one of the front matter pages.

I don't have a single book, paperback or hardcover, that doesn't have a synopsis somewhere, but back cover synopses seem to be getting less and less common because they cost a bit more, and interfere with some of the new ideas about cover art.

Torgo
05-14-2012, 02:17 AM
Well, a blurb is someone telling you it's a great book. I ignore those. The jacket synopsis is another story, and I want to read it.

Are you sure it wasn't inside the book? I'd say half the paperbacks I've bought the last few years have the synopsis inside, sometimes on the cover, and sometimes on one of the front matter pages.

I don't have a single book, paperback or hardcover, that doesn't have a synopsis somewhere, but back cover synopses seem to be getting less and less common because they cost a bit more, and interfere with some of the new ideas about cover art.

Blurb is used fairly interchangably to mean author blurbs and what I would call back cover copy.

kaitie
05-14-2012, 02:19 AM
Yup. As I mentioned earlier, I checked three times because I couldn't believe there was nothing there. First few pages were just quotes from reviews and testimonials from other authors saying, "This book is awesome!"

darkelf
05-17-2012, 09:40 AM
This bothers me as well. Countless books have gone back on the shelf because the publisher couldn't be bothered to tell me what the book was about. Instead they tell me how awesome it is.

Huh. It sounds like a bad query letter. Isn't that a favorite gripe of agents: what is the book about?

Perhaps the guilty publishers should become reacquainted with slush. Or they need to relearn "show, don't tell". Show me the story, don't tell me I'll like it because I won't believe you.

The cover copy doesn't need to be awesome or original, just tell me what kind of story it is. I would be happier with "This is a geeky kid gets cool story with dragons, flying trash compactors, and sentient potato peelers" than "This is amazing, the next Harry Potter!" At least I'd have a clue.

DancingMaenid
05-17-2012, 12:23 PM
I think the last time I bought a book without a blurb, it was a novel I needed for a class. I was going to read it regardless, so it didn't matter as much. Though even then, the lack of a blurb annoyed me a bit.

I don't need to know a ton about what the book is about, but I do need something as a rule. A good cover will spark my interest, but with no indication of what the story is about, I'm unlikely to take a risk.

This may have something to do, also, with the fact that while I enjoy reading a lot of genres, there aren't many genres I really see myself as a fan of. So while I might be interested in reading a thriller, just knowing it's a thriller won't inspire me to read it.

fireluxlou
05-17-2012, 01:16 PM
Well the last time I bought two paperbacks they were Book Two & book three in a trilogy, and there was no indication they were book two and book three.

Inside they both had 'there are other books in the series' and there was no indication on the front, sometimes reissues of 1st books have 'there are other books in the series' on the inside page too. I was sitting in the coffee shop and reading it, I got about half way through and I was think 'have I missed something' because it was referencing stuff. Ended up searching on my phone to see if it was the 1st.

I don't buy books that have no blurb, I like to know what I'm reading.

SaronaNalia
05-17-2012, 11:58 PM
I don't think I've ever even seen a book without a blurb. But I wouldn't buy it.


Well the last time I bought two paperbacks they were Book Two & book three in a trilogy, and there was no indication they were book two and book three.

This annoys me so much! One of the most recent books I bought was the sequel to another book. There is absolutely nothing, on the outside or the inside, that indicates that it isn't a stand alone book.