Tag Archives: book blurb

Thoughts on Writing – A Blurb for Distant Horizon: Part Two

Last week I did a post about writing a blurb for Distant Horizon, the YA/NA Dystopian novel that my husband and I will soon publish.

After writing the previous post, then editing the blurb, I came up with three versions that Isaac and I took to the writer’s meeting we attend. The first version was a short blurb in present tense that focused on the world of the novel, but didn’t mention the protagonist. The second was the blurb-ified query letter. The third was a cross between the two.

At the writer’s meeting, we struck out the first one. The second and third versions tied for favorite in regards to which each person preferred.

I’ve made the suggested edits, and I’ve come up with two versions as possible options.

Which one would entice you to read the book?

Version 1

The Community is safe.

At least, that’s what we are supposed to believe.


Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson resides in an efficient, secure society that’s recovering from a hallucinogenic plague. So when agents of the Community’s Special Forces arrive at her university prior to a mandatory Health Scan, Jenna’s paranoia—and recent string of hallucinations—prompt her to find out what happens to the students who fail. Rumor has it that they’re sent away for treatment, but when she uncovers a ruthless government conspiracy, her ideal world is shattered.

Terrified, Jenna flees her home under the protection of a ragtag band of freedom fighters. The rebels offer her refuge on their rusty airship and claim her hallucinations are elemental plant powers. She’s not so sure she trusts them, but when she comes face-to-face with a cruel telepath in charge of the government’s darkest secrets, Jenna realizes she’ll need more than special powers to escape with her mind and body intact.


Version 2

The Community is safe.

At least, that’s what we are supposed to believe.


Sixty years ago, a hallucinogenic plague annihilated half the world’s population, leading to the formation of the Community—an international government that promises its citizens safety, security, and efficiency. Every day, Community citizens swallow a mandatory pill to ensure their immunity to the plague. A year after graduating high school, they take the Health Scan.

Most pass, and continue with their lives.

Others disappear.

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson hasn’t taken the pill since her senior year in high school. She feels more alive without it, and she hasn’t shown any signs of infection—at least, not until two days after a surprise Health Scan is announced and Special Forces arrive at her university campus.

Spurred by the recent string of hallucinations, Jenna searches for any inkling of what happens to those who fail the scan. Rumor has it that they’re sent away for treatment, and once cured, receive a menial job. But when she uncovers the cruel truth behind the plague, her ideal world is shattered.

Underneath the illusion of safety, Special Forces agents harbor a dark secret.

The plague is a lie.

Version one is based on the final query letter we wrote before deciding to create our own company. The blurb reveals a lot more information, but (as some of the writers at the meeting pointed out) narrows the options that the protagonist might choose. With this blurb, we know that the government’s secrets involve super powers, a telepath, and that the protagonist goes with the rebels (at least to start with).

This blurb seems to ask the question, “How will Jenna escape the telepath?” “What other secrets does this government have?”

For the moment, I’ve chosen the same tagline for both versions and changed them completely to present tense. The goal is to draw readers into the story by giving them the sense that all this is happening immediately.

Version two sets up the world before the protagonist. We don’t know what she ultimately chooses to do, though we know that she’s uncovered some kind of secret, Special Forcess agents are enforcing that secret, and that the plague is a lie.

“Why is the government lying about the plague?” “What’s really going on?” “What’s going to happen to Jenna?”

We don’t know, but the blurb promises the reader that if they read the book, they’ll find out.

What do you think? Which blurb catches your attention, and why?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. 🙂


Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

Thoughts on Publishing – Back Cover Blurb

I’m currently formatting the Magic’s Stealing ebook editions for Smashwords and Kindle, and since I’m determined to get the files uploaded for pre-order tonight, I’m keeping this blog post shorter than usual. But I thought we could take a look at the back cover copy… the little blurb about the book that you see after clicking the cover online.

This little blurb is important, since it tells the reader whether or not they might like the book.

I have a habit of only skimming the blurbs when I’m looking for the next book to read, rather than really letting the information sink in. I’ve noticed this before, but it really became evident today while I was reading The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin, when I realized that I had little idea about where the book was going. I flipped it over, read the blurb again, and the puzzle pieces fit into place.

It was like the blurb didn’t sink in until after I’d become acquainted with the world.

The same thing happened when I was reading The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross. I reread the blurb after I’d gotten a few chapters in, and then the blurb seemed to finally ‘click’ for me.

But something in the blurb made me want to pick up the book, so it did its job.

There are also blurbs where I read them after I finish the book, and they don’t quite fit the events of the story. (Or they fit the second book better than the first). The blurb caught my attention, and I enjoyed the book… but it wasn’t really what the book was about.

So today, let’s take a look at the blurb for Magic’s Stealing and compare it to the contents of the book.

For centuries, ribbons of magic have provided the kingdom of Cirena with light, healing, and protection. Then, in a span of minutes, those ribbons fly from their masters, stolen, save for the magic of a few chosen mages. One of these mages is Toranih, a young noblewoman who would rather have a sword in her hand than use her powers to heal or throw fireballs. As a result, her magic skills are lacking. But with former mages dying from magic withdrawal, and the looming threat of an army of shadows who are impervious to mortal weapons, she must either embrace the responsibilities of a mage or watch her home perish.

First off, we have the line about magic and how it gets stolen. This doesn’t actually happen until chapter four, though plenty of stuff happens before then. This is that “start with the action” bit. There’s no fighting yet, but we have tension.

For example, in the first chapter (read it here if you missed it), Toranih’s best friend convinces her to attend a “notoriously magical festival” against her better judgement. She’s conflicted, but ultimately decides to go, leading to her magic being altered by unknown forces. As the story continues, we see her struggling to use her magic (the “her magic skills are lacking” bit in the blurb) and get multiple references to her preference for swords. Once magic is finally stolen, we immediately see the impact it has on mages. Shortly thereafter, Toranih and her friend stumble on the army of shadows in their attempt to find out what happened. Following that, we see Toranih continuing to struggle with her own magic and stubbornness as she responds to the shadow threat.

Though it takes time for the blurb to unfold within the actual story, the main aspects are present. I excluded a number of details from the blurb, such as the involvement of Toranih’s best friend and her sister, the details of the antagonist, and the involvement of time travel (which I may use as a key phrase).

The goal is to give just enough information to entice the reader into reading the first page or buying the book, rather than giving them a detailed synopsis (I’ve read those blurbs, too… in which I knew every major turn of events in the story).

Will this blurb work? I don’t know yet, but we’ll find out soon. If all goes well, expect to see the cover reveal and announcement of a release date for Magic’s Stealing in my next post. 🙂

Have you found any blurbs that didn’t quite fit the book, or didn’t really click until after you started reading? Have you had trouble figuring out what to include in your blurbs?


Filed under Business Ventures, Writing