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Old 12-14-2012, 09:48 AM   #1
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Blurb for the second book in a series?

To say much that's useful in a blurb about my second book in the series could give away surprises that appeared in the first book. This is either going to mean some additional creativity in the blurb, or it's going to risk spoiling things for readers that read the blurb of the second book before they pick up the first. The risk with a creative blurb is to make it unnecessarily obscure for people that have read the first book.

Obviously this is not a new problem. To a certain extent any "next book" will give away something just by their existence. But when something you've made a big deal of in the first book is revealed in the blurb of the second then it really could be a spoiler.

I see this as particularly risky in this wonderful world of websites - where my books will be listed together with a certain amount of blurb visible for each (at least according to my current design/intention).

So what's the protocol here? Is it tough-luck to readers that look ahead, or do you risk making the blurb obscure?
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:13 PM   #2
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Eh, people know that that is a risk, so it is read at your own risk, IMO.
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:46 PM   #3
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I agree with VydorScope. There will be clues on the cover that the book is part of a series usually and therefore there will be clues to the storyline from the previous book in the blurb. All you can do is try to limit things to small subplot facts or a broad scope. For example In "The Two Towers" Frodo and Samwise are on their own as the fellowship has broken, but you still have to read the book to find out how the break came to be (if you haven't already read the 1st book).
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Old 12-15-2012, 08:59 AM   #4
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You don't have to give away the plot or turning point or etc. It can be stated in vague, glorious terms.

Of course if the first book builds up to the death of the main character and then wa-la he's back in the second book, that might say something...or not...

It's all good.
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:44 AM   #5
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You're not too far off the mark Kenny. I think I'm going to have to experiment with a few different options and run them past those that have read the first book to see what works. I may have to reconsider my intended website layout to make sure any blurb spoiler is not visible on the list of books - that way it's a problem only if the person goes into the book detail, in which case: on their own heads be it.

Off-topic: My signature works! I had thought it might show up on old posts (just as a change of avatar does). But now I have a signature I notice the option where you can choose to display it or not. So I'm no longer anonymous, which is an important step for someone that hopes to sell a book or two.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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A Fine Line For Blurbs

I will be crossing this bridge soon. Having posted recently about blurbs, their construction has been on my mind. I suggest you try to thread the needle a bit. Make it as compelling as you can with details that cut it close, but do not completely blow away the ending of book 1.

For example, if I was making the blurb for "The Empire Strikes Back," I would not start it with:
"After the rebels blew up the Death Star..."
I might be more inclined to try something like:
"After an initial victory against the Empire..."

Last edited by Gregory Faccone; 12-19-2012 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gregory Faccone View Post
I will be crossing this bridge soon. Having posted recently about blurbs, their construction has been on my mind. I suggest you try to thread the needle a bit. Make it as compelling as you can with details that cut it close, but do not completely blow away the ending of book 1.

For example, if I was making the blurb for "The Empire Strikes Back," I would not start it with:
"After the rebels blew up the Death Star..."
I might be more inclined to try something like:
"After an initial victory against the Empire..."
Yes, something like this is what is needed I think ... the other possibility I was thinking was something like those blurbs that are essentially like a quote from the book. Chosen carefully those can be very effective at giving a feel for a book without giving much away.

If you can get editors to help with book content and cover designers to help with the front ... what sort of third party help exists to assist with blurbs? Anyone?
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:49 PM   #8
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If you can get editors to help with book content and cover designers to help with the front ... what sort of third party help exists to assist with blurbs? Anyone?
A literary agent perhaps? But you are the captain of your own book. No one knows it or cares about it like you. With some research on the "how to," guidance on content, and feedback from a trusted few, it can be taken on by the author if they choose.

Authors need an external editor by the nature of that mission, to catch issues initially overlooked. Some need cover designers because they do not have the artistic skills for such an endeavor. But a blurb is just another form of writing. A particular one with its own peculiar set of restrictions, but still within the tool-set of an author.

That is just my opinion. There are marketing experts out there I surmise who are very good at it. I wonder, in this new era of self publishing, if more and more authors are just doing it themselves. You could always try it, run it past some people and see how good it is. Seek out a pro if you are not satisfied.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:31 PM   #9
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I have seen people off "expert blurb" writing, but never looked into it.
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:17 AM   #10
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While I agree that "a blurb is just another form of writing"*, the objectives are quite different from writing the novel. The more I look at the blurb for my first book the more I wonder if I could have done better - maybe even just shorter. And now I look at the additional problems facing the second book and have been wondering where to start.

* Like designing labels for a can of soup is just another form of artwork - which is not intended to denigrate either, but artists suited to one task are often not suited to the other.
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:12 PM   #11
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I hear you GMW. The skill sets for good novel writing AND good blurb writing may not necessarily overlap.

* Which would you rather eat? "This soup has been tested to be 67% better tasting than the leading brand," or, "Fred's is the darnedest best-tasting beef stew ever made!"
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:28 PM   #12
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I hear you GMW. The skill sets for good novel writing AND good blurb writing may not necessarily overlap.

* Which would you rather eat? "This soup has been tested to be 67% better tasting than the leading brand," or, "Fred's is the darnedest best-tasting beef stew ever made!"
I pick my soups from the picture on the can.

I'm actually fairly happy with the front cover of my book. Even if it was home grown I don't think it looks too amateurish. So maybe I can hope readers will pick it from the cover if not from the blurb.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:51 AM   #13
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I've just been through this exact process. It's so hard!

In the end I just decided to summarise the book, almost completely ignoring the first book. Most of the reader, 90%, will have read your first book so will know what to expect.

Good luck with it! It's a tough process but not impossible. Have a read of different blurbs for books you see as comparable - that's always a good rule of thumb.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:11 AM   #14
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Thanks for your thoughts, Sarah. The summarise thing fits with how I finally got the blurb for my first book. I had one blurb, but didn't like it much. Then I had to write a detailed synopsis for a couple of tentative attempts at traditional publishing, and that led to something better for the blurb. It may at least give me a start. Once I actually have something, it will be easier to see if any bits need to be obscured if they give away too much of the first book. I keep putting it off, it's so easy to find other things to do instead.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:16 AM   #15
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Me too. I put it off for ages! I'm the Queen of procrastination
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