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Old 07-05-2013, 10:25 AM   #1
caleb72
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What are your red flags?

For me, blurbs are hugely important to successfully generating a sale/download. Most of the books I don't download (even if the book is free) are due to the content of the blurb. The reasons vary and I have certain sentences and key words that are my red flags.

For example, a book that uses a variation on "x is/was a typical teenage boy/girl". Nearly every time I read that sentence or something similar, I move on. I also tend to dodge anything that has "legal thriller" or "medical thriller" in the blurb mainly because I'm usually just not that interested in either of those areas. And I'm very unlikely to try anything that has a typo or grammar error in the blurb, the darkest of omens.

Tonight I encountered one that needs to be added to my list of red flags:

Quote:
Each book is twice as long as a standard novel, so you are getting excellent value along with a great story.
So, given that we've discussed before how difficult it is to wade through the Amazon/B&N/<insert retailer here> slush pile, I thought it might be interesting to share our red flags. What will immediately be a swing and a miss for you if it's present in a book's description/blurb?

Last edited by caleb72; 07-05-2013 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:27 AM   #2
HarryT
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Spelling and grammar mistakes have to be #1 for me.
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:55 AM   #3
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Might be unpopular here, but honestly, self-published is a red flag for me. I do think that the major publishers are decent gatekeepers. That's not to say that I'm going to like every book by a major publisher, of course, but I do feel fairly confident that the writing won't be atrocious and the errors will be minimal. I would read a self-published book but generally only if I had a recommendation for it, either on here or IRL.

And to generalize even further, I can typically tell a self-published book from a major publisher just by looking at the cover. (yes, I do judge a book by its cover). If the cover is professional looking, I might assume it's a major publisher and spend more time looking at the rest of the product details.

eP
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:06 AM   #4
poohbear_nc
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Hmmm .... anything compared (favorably) with Shades of Gray, or touted as "the next Stieg Larsson", or zombie/vampire/etc. romance, .... in general -- copy cat attempts to ride the coat tails of a popular phenomenon.

Oh ... and Dan Brown

and, of course, shoddy or absent editing - typos, grammar, etc.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Spelling and grammar mistakes have to be #1 for me.
Same here. If you can't get the first-impression marketing blurb correct, it doesn't bode well for what's inside the book.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:17 AM   #6
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When an author can't bother to proofread (or has poor proofreading skills), then I go to something more professional.

Also, asinine copy that reads like promotional-sounding spam. (It's hard to explain this one, but if you've ever gotten it, then you know INSTINCTIVELY what it is.)



Don
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elemenoP View Post
Might be unpopular here, but honestly, self-published is a red flag for me.
I'm going to take what you said, and tone it down a notch: anything that sounds self-published is a ref flag for me. Whether or not it is self-published is not a huge concern for me.

I never really thought about what those red flags are, but I can tell you what I'm looking for. I am looking for an element of realism, even in genres like science fiction and fantasy. To offer an idea of what I mean: things like interstellar travels and magical creatures are okay, as long as it is there to drive a plausible story. Space battles and horny vampires are not okay, because it is mostly about the fulfillment of fantasies that stretch the imagination.

I'm looking for some sort of indication that the story is driven by the plot. Characters aren't a huge issue for me, as long as they are believable and I don't end up hating them. I do have a preference for strong characters who are led by reason rather than emotion. For some reason, I get the feeling that weak characters are having their story written for them rather than having their story written (which, again, strikes me as fantasy fulfillment).

Perhaps somewhat contradictory, I also prefer modesty from both the characters and the author. Blurbs that indicate that the characters have overgrown egos leads me to think that the author has an inflated ego or is writing some sort of fantasy fulfillment story (notice an ongoing theme here). Authors who say how great they are or how great their story is also raises red flags, since nothing is that good. Even if it was getting close to being that good, it is the place for independent reviewers to say so, and not for an author to tout their horn.

Oh, and the blurb should be written in a style that I can appreciate. Factual about the story itself. Variation in sentence structure. The tone should reflect the story rather than a sales pitch. I shouldn't be gasping from reading run-on sentences, nor feel like a hyperactive chipmunk that can only blurt six words at a time (i.e. short and choppy sentences).
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:26 AM   #8
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If a blurb is poorly written and/or poorly formatted I generally don't bother. And I want the blurb to be descriptive of the book, not an excerpt or all about the author.

And the term Young adult has taken on bad connotations for me. It is often applied willy nilly to books aimed at 12 year olds and to books you probably wouldn't want in the same house as your 12 year old. I enjoy juvenile fiction occasionally, but have had bad luck with books labeled Young Adult.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:26 AM   #9
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My red flag: vampires, weerwolves, dragons.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:32 AM   #10
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My red flag: blurbs that tell me about the author, instead of the book. So-and-so graduated from such-and-such university with a degree in whatever.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:10 PM   #11
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Spelling/grammar errors.

Elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, druids.
(and believe it or not ... I'm huge fan of fantasy)

Use of the word "plucky," or "sensation."

Exclamation marks.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:18 PM   #12
Catlady
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Too many red flags to list.

I want a blurb to give me a basic idea of the story, setting, and characters. I don't want to hear about the author or author's "luminous" writing style.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:26 PM   #13
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One more: absurd comparisons to established authors.

As an example, recently on my GR page a book was being promoted with the blurb, "In the tradition of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Sue Grafton."

Say what? I don't think DLS and AC even have that much in common other than the obvious markers of sex, nationality and era, but ok. Sue Grafton? Kinsey as literary heiress to Poirot, Marple and Wimsey? Madam, you and your publisher are duplicitous idiots.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:48 PM   #14
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Quotes from other authors or reader reviews about how good the author/book is instead of a brief summary of the book.

If that's all the blurb is, I don't care how good the book is, I won't read it.
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Old 07-05-2013, 01:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l_macd View Post
Quotes from other authors or reader reviews about how good the author/book is instead of a brief summary of the book.

If that's all the blurb is, I don't care how good the book is, I won't read it.
This.
I can't stand having to open a book up in Sigil to delete three pages of

"A rip roaring Indiana Jones meets Alien rollercoaster of a thrilling read"
- James Rollins/Patterson/Cussler/Child/Preston

(Insert 15 spaces)

"I hit the floor after the first page and couldn't get up"
-Eileen Dover
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