A secret tool to create a catchy book blurb

First, a few points about book blurbs:

  • You have only a few seconds to intrigue a reader when they look at the back of your book. If you give them a lengthy synopsis (a plot-point by plot-point description), you can easily lose them in the detail. Synopses are for agents, editors, and publishers who want to know each step of the storyline, including the ending. A synopsis is an informative piece.
  • Blurbs need to be relatively short—just a couple of paragraphs, if possible—hitting the compelling highlights of the characters’ and the story’s arcs, but not giving away the ending. It serves as a teaser to interest readers enough to open the book to learn more, or to buy it. A book blurb is a marketing piece.
  • “Real estate” on the back of a book is valuable. It needs to include compelling words to entice readers to look inside and buy. That includes the blurb, testimonials, perhaps a tagline, maybe some author info/photo; not to mention the business and purchasing items like the publishing info and barcode. A long blurb takes up too much space to allow easy readability of the other detail on the back cover.
  • Authors almost always use the book blurb on their Amazon book page listing, too. Readers don’t spend a lot of time checking out a book online. Here’s how it goes…
    • If a reader likes the thumbnail, they click to see the details.
    • If they like the cover, up-close, they scroll down to the description.
    • If the description is too long, or doesn’t have an immediate hook, they leave your page and start searching for something else and you’ve lost them.
    • If the description grabs them quickly, they scroll back up to the “Look Inside” feature to learn more.
    • If they like what they see inside, they buy.
    • Readers holding a physical book follow the same process (obviously, without all the clicking and scrolling). 🙂

So, with all of that said, a short and punchy blurb works best. Hook the reader with compelling highlights without telling them everything that happens in the story. What you need instead of a short synopsis with too much detail, is a quick hook to entice a reader to want to know more about the story… an enticing marketing blurb.

And now my secret for writing the best blurbs ever…
Deborah Chester’s/Jim Butcher’s STORY QUESTION

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?

This is a two-sentence description which can serve as the perfect foundation for your book blurb. Of course, you’ll probably want to embellish with some details within and around the story question, but it will start you off in fine shape.

When I read the first book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, it hit me as so powerful I had to go figure out his process for great storytelling. The Story Question is one of the tools I discovered he uses, taught to him by his mentor, Deborah Chester.

Maybe using color coding for some of the phrases, below, will help you see how this works?

When something happensyour protagonist pursues a goal. But, will they succeed when the antagonist provides opposition?

The story question gives you the main points in your book:

  • Inciting incident
  • Main good character
  • The story’s overall goal
  • Villain/opposing character
  • The conflict

Example: Harry Potter, book 1

When he finds out he’s a wizardHarry Potter moves to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn about magic and his mysterious past. But, will he succeed when the dark Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents, returns to retrieve an immortality stone so he can destroy the young student?

An imaginary nonfiction inspirational book example:

Growing up in a cloud of fear and self-doubtSusan goes on a spiritual quest to find herselfFloundering to develop self-worth while unemployed and in the midst of a divorce with her unfaithful husband, will she be able to use her mind and will to overcome the hardships and forge a path to joy and fulfillment? Or will spirit intervene?

………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

Find me elsewhere online.

Three top writing tips to captivate a reader

While reviewing a blog I ran across at the Self-Publishing School site, I realized their points covered some of the main techniques I teach in my writing workshops to overcome these issues. Study the few tips below, and you’ll be amazed at how your words jump off the page!

  • Avoid passive voice, use active voice instead
    • Passive voice often uses inactive verbs followed by words ending in “-ed”
      or “-ing”
      • Passive voice = is cheering, are praying, have binged
      • Active voice = cheer, prays, binged
    • In active voice, you start your sentences with the subject and use an active verb to describe what the subject does. 
  • Don’t use weak verbs, use active verbs instead
    • Inactive/”to be” verbs = is, was, has, have, be, been
    • Active verbs create a mental picture: cheers, pray, binged, stumble, stared
  • Why use emotion explaining, when you can simply show physical reactions? 
    • Climb into a character’s skin and experience what they taste, feel, hear, smell, and do.
    • Beauty is in the details… describe how someone’s hands shake and lips quiver when they tremble in “fear.”

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

Our Words, Music, and Village community

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Looking for details on faerie portals and Faeries’ Tales?
Visit our Absolutely Wild! web page.

The Latest…
(updated 4/5/21)

The next roundtable gathering of the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors, & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) writers’ collective, will take place online at: 11:30 a.m., Thurs., April 8, 2021. The established authors in the group will discuss cultural sensitivity in your writing. If you’d like to be included, please email Ann Videan at ann@annvidean.com for the Zoom link.


Avatar for Book Shepherd Ann Narcisian Videan

Come on in!
     I’m so glad you’ve found our little online community! Here, we share ideas to create and market better writing, music, and “village.”
     Throw in a few “Coffee CommuniTea” coffee and tea-shop reviews, and we’re golden, right? What better places for writing, enjoying music, and creating community?
     Our goal is to generate success together, using fresh tactics to get the ‘verse buzzing about cool creative endeavors. Come in and join us…
—Ann


………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

Find me elsewhere online.

 

Ann Videan’s Phoenix-area writing events this spring:

Ann with her books at the Tempe Public Library

You may benefit from these writing events…

Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors, and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS)

Meet in-person with the ALWAYS writers’ tribe of established authors to discuss writing and support one another. In March, we’re talking about the structure of the ALWAYS group and how to better interact with and support one another. I hope you can join us! (We meet the second Thursday of each month in Gilbert, except for the first Thursday of each quarter when we meet in Phoenix.)
Romeo’s Euro Cafe, downtown Gilbert, AZ
11:30 a.m., Thurs., March 14, 2019

My Words Jump Off The Page!
[A presentation at the Society of Southwestern Authors—Valley of the Sun Chapter.]

Authors, learn a handful of writing and editing techniques to help you discover ways to build visual imagery and emotion, and subconsciously compel readers into your story. I’ll share my thirty years of marketing experience to show you how to make your story “jump off the page” for readers and publishers. In this two-hour hands-on session, explore:

  • The edits I make most often as an editor
  •  What to look for when hiring an editor
  • Leveraging the scene question to develop a compelling plot line
  • Writing with active voice, and deep point-of-view
  • More effective editing tips using MS Word

Tempe Public Library
2:30–4:40 p.m., Sunday, April 28, 2019


Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.

 

Knitted Fabrication – Stories and Ugly Holiday Sweaters, ALWAYS

Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS)

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“Don we now our gay apparel?” The better to tell stories in,   my dear. Excuse the mixed metaphor and come share something meaningful at our Dec. ALWAYS gathering.

Established writer, do you have a favorite mini story or holiday tradition to share? Don your favorite “ugly holiday sweater” and come share with us something book related, or simply meaningful to you, over a delicious meal. What better way for writers to get into the season’s spirit?

Here’s the usual agenda:
11:30 introductions with writing tips
11:50 order lunch
11:55 writing discussion/sharing
1 p.m. pay individual bills and adjourn (to go write!)

Next gathering:
Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS typically meets on the second Thursday of the month.)

Where:
Romeo’s Euro Cafe
207 N Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 962-4224

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Going” link on our Facebook Event page
or
• Contacting Ann Videan, avidean@videanunlimited.com

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!
…………………………………………………………….

ABOUT ALWAYS

Are you an established writer who:
• Needs contacts to help your writing?
• Wants advice about your writing?
• Likes to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

“You cannot miss this!” your future book screams.

write on flier

Write on! Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
P.S. Learn more about my novels on Google+.

Need a beta reader? Here’s a proven resource from Oz.

Beta readers are especially valuable for for indie authors, as they provide input on story line, content, and characters—often during a book’s drafting process. My brilliant author friend Karen Mueller Bryson shared information about such a service: Hot Tree Editing. Founders of the ten-year-old Queensland, Australia-based firm pride themselves on “approachable, friendly and cost-effective editing service.”

Critique image

A beta reader will provide comments like these (in red) from a critique partner on my Beat of the Pakiri manuscript-in-progress.

 

Hot Tree offers a relatively inexpensive pre-edit beta reading, for approximately $35 per avid, BA-degreed, and experienced reader. You’ll receive an annotated script and a Hot Tree Editing beta report covering character and plot development, discrepancies, and overall readability.

They charge for other literary services, too, like proofreading and line and content edits, but offer their “post-edit beta reading service for FREE, alongside a line and content edit.” The beta readers’ payment includes the read of your manuscript, your gratitude, and some small recognition.

The service is available upon request only, so plan extra time in your schedule to take advantage of it. Learn more by contacting Hot Tree email.

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Indie publishing • Word-of-mouth
Check out my Book Shepherding sessions.
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Three events to pique writing interests

Writers, looking for some support to hone your skills? These three affordable April events offer a wide variety of book-related information, and an opportunity to rub elbows with a slew of excellent local authors. I’m involved, too, and would love to see you at all three.

PAWWVCC Speaker MKG Ann Videan FPOSTPONED TO SAT., May 7, 2016

Phoenix Area Writers Workshops at Vesuvius Conference Center (PAWWVCC)

In my workshop #1 of four, “27 Steps from Book Idea to Published,” I will cover every single item you need to know about creating a book. Perfect for new authors of fiction/nonfiction, with either traditional or self-publishing goals.

9 a.m.-3 p.m
Vesuvius Conference Center
4806 S. 40th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85040
#PAWWVCC

 

SAT., APRIL 16, 2016

Tempe Book Festival
“A Celebration of Books”

I’ll be exhibiting at this local author book fair with a sign on my table that says, “Ask me anything about writing.” Come pick my brain! As a Book Shepherd, I have written/self-published two of my own novels, and assisted hundreds of other authors with everything from writing and editing, to independent publishing and word-of-mouth marketing.

10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Tempe Public Library
3500 S. Rural Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85282

write on flier
SAT., APRIL 30, 2016

Write On! Workshop
Scottsdale Society of Women Writers

I will join a handful of other SSWW authors at this free all-day workshop in Scottsdale. This workshop, #2 in my series of four covers “12 Editing Tips to Wow and Publisher.” I will share with you how to avoid the 12 things I change the most when editing other authors’ manuscripts. Fix these few things, and you’ll hand a potential publisher a manuscript with vibrant writing that connects your reader emotionally to the story.

10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Scottsdale Civic Center Library
3839 N Drinkwater Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

 

Solid reasons behind rapid publishing, a la Hugh Howey and Liliana Hart

KevinHearneBookshelf.gif

Traditionally-published author Kevin Hearne—whose books line my bookshelf in this snapshot—reached NY Times Bestseller status within a year by launching the first three books in his Iron Druid Chronicles series over three months. Coincidence or strategic?

Would you like to know how wildly successful self-publisher Hugh Howey earned 1,200 reader reviews on Amazon? He danced as a reward for milestone numbers of reviews. Really. Check out the video.

Howey, known for Wool, sold more than two million copies of his dystopian “Silo Series” worldwide. He’s writing his Beacon 23 series of short stories in stand-alone story arcs, which he relates to a season of TV with each episode telling a story. He’s quoted in The Writer Files blog as saying, “People are eating them up at 99 cents each.”

This process for his short stories may have a foundation in his belief in the Liliana Hart method of marketing a book series. The best-selling author of mystery and romance uses a process that boils down to writing five books before releasing one of them a month. Howey’s The Wayfinder blog post describes why he thinks she may be genius.

He also points to another author’s take on the Liliana method, in which Rosalind James uses Kindle Select and Kindle Countdown marketing programs as the focus of her “Rolling Countdown” book launch campaign. A very interesting read.

Have Howey and Hart  found the “silver bullet” of successful self-publishing? What do you think?

P.S. Learn more about how Howey achieved his writing success on The Writer’s Dig blog.

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Indie publishing • Word-of-mouth
Check out my Book Shepherding sessions.
avidean@videanunlimited.com

 

Today’s key book marketing tips

writers fon't only hang out in writing groups. One of their natural habitat is a coffee shop. That's why I write a blog about them. Check out BuzzBerry on my Coffee CommuniTea blog.

Writers don’t only hang out at writing groups or libraries. One of their natural habitats is a coffee shop. That’s why I write a blog about those little hot spots. Check out my latest find on my Coffee CommuniTea blog: BuzzBerry Bistro

I love hanging out with authors. They’re interesting, smart, and — at least in my circles — extremely generous with helpful ideas. Every time I go to a place where writers hang out, I learn something.

So, what fun is it to keep all that great information to myself? I want you to benefit, too. So here are three great ideas heard in the last couple of weeks:

  1. I’ve mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating. Use the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer tool to check the emotional value of your blog/e-newsletter subject lines and headlines. (The emotional connection makes them want to read your stuff.)
  2. Slip a postcard in the back of every book you put into a reader’s hand. On the card, ask for comments about the book, and leave a space for the recipient’s email. That way you can acknowledge his or her comment. Brilliant!
  3. If you have the opportunity to give something away in a raffle, why not give away a few dollars in an envelope with a link to your ebook. This allows you to buy the book for your recipient, and all you ask for in return is his or her review on Amazon. Sweet!

What book marketing tips can you share?