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book copy (blurbs, inserts, etc.)

to be honest, i had a very hard time with the blurb/jacket copy. part of my intent with Witness is to shake readers up a bit and surprise them, give them something other than just the overused standards, but to do this effectively, i didn’t want to give away too much on the cover, which was a problem.

i personally dislike blurbs that give away half or more of the book. i think richard russo said it: i write books for the same reason i read them: to find out what happens next. if someone tells me most of it beforehand, where’s the fun? it’s like movie previews that show too much. the most egregious example of this in my mind is the preview for Red Tide, with Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman. i think it gave far too much away. i still enjoyed the film, because those two actors are simply excellent, but i knew everything that was coming. in case you’re wondering, and i know you are, my favorite movie preview was for Tim Burton’s first Batman film: just the symbol. nothing else. still gives me goosebumps thinking about it. of course, Michael Keaton was the wrong actor, in my opinion, but the preview nailed me.

one last  analogy: on a tour trip to egypt, mary and i visited the great pyramids; massive, nearly overwhelming creations of mind-bending proportion and effort. but we got there by bus, meaning we were driving through cairo one minute, and then we turned a corner and there they were, framed by apartments and storefronts (including, i kid you not, a Kentucky Fried Chicken). for all their awe-inspiring grandeur, i can’t help but wish i’d been able to spend a week or so trekking on foot to approach them, to come to my own steady, personal understanding and appreciation of them as they slowly grew and grew. the journey is as important as the destination.

so, back to my point (sorry), i had a hard time coming up with a blurb for the book cover. how could i hook people into picking up the book, without giving away some of the major plot points, which, in my opinion, are best discovered than told? after banging my head against the wall on this, i finally decided to dodge the issue, choosing a single scene from the book, instead. hopefully it works to much the same effect, but, again, i am plagued by worries that it’s not interesting enough to grab a reader’s casual browsing attention. which leads to the book cover, but that’s another post.

i might revisit this later to provide some book blurb examples. force me to validate my presumptions in the above.