Author Topic: Blurb in Front Matter?  (Read 5242 times)  

Offline Jason Varrone

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Blurb in Front Matter?
« on: July 24, 2013, 08:03:05 AM »
Another thread made mention of the idea of placing a book's blurb in the front matter. I wanted to explore this a bit further as I am about to republish some of my books with new covers and streamlined front and back matter. Does anyone do this? Is there truly a point to it? It seems redundant to me since the blurb is right at their fingertips on the website they are viewing the book at, but perhaps I am overlooking something. Thoughts?

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2013, 08:06:58 AM »
One of the arguments I've heard for including the blurb in the front matter is for those readers (like me) who download a lot of sample chapters and then sit down with their ereader and don't remember what the book was about before reading the sample. Reading the blurb right off the ereader would save me time having to go back to the website to try and remember why the heck I downloaded the sample.

Offline NicWilson

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2013, 08:08:36 AM »
Yep. I've heard Jim's reasoning, and it's been something I wished for, when starting books on the kindle. Since you don't view the title or blurb before actually opening the book, it can be a bit jarring trying to remember  what it was, and why I was interested in it. I've been meaning to implement something similar in my books, too.



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Offline Jason Varrone

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2013, 08:10:08 AM »
Hmm, interesting, I've never thought about doing that until I just read the idea this morning. I appreciate your thoughts.

Offline bhazelgrove

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2013, 08:47:20 AM »
It cant hurt. I don't know if blurbs sell books at all but I always pursue them. I have seen novels with every big name blurb in the world that didn't sell at all. So as a reference point I suppose it works.
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Offline Danni

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2013, 08:49:53 AM »
Except if your blurb sucks, they might not go any further.  ;D

I could see the benefit. But then again, I read a lot. None of the books I download have blurbs in the front and I fast-forward quickly through all front matter. That's just me; I don't know what the masses want. Someone run a poll in a reader's area.

Offline Steve W.

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2013, 08:58:13 AM »
I think front matter has information for book buyers. It has copyright information, as well as cataloging information. Often, rather than a full blurb, there is a single sentence hook that concisely tells what the book is about. I don't think there's room for a full blurb on the front matter (at least not in a printed book).

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2013, 09:05:21 AM »
I put the blurb in the front of my books these days. Mainly, like said above, because people often don't immediately read after downloading.

I do also put a link to the blurb in the TOC so people can easily find it.
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Offline Hilary Thomson

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2013, 09:05:58 AM »
I find blurbs inside the book incredibly annoying.  Since it's already on the product page, I don't want to be forced to read it twice.  I want to see the actual story when I'm looking inside the book, not an advertisement for it.  Besides, your blurb can take up most of your sample if your story is short. 

Keep in mind that if you want to persuade a buyer to spend money on the book, seeing a blurb twice with almost no writing sample is not the way to do it, especially if it's a mediocre blurb and you think your actual text is better.
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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2013, 09:19:51 AM »
Put the blurb at the beginning...the very first page.  Put the copyright info at the back of the ebook.  Of course, for POD versions, the blurb matter is already on the cover, so cut it and put the copyright info at the front.

Personally, I think it's smart to mark the "beginning" of the ebook at the blurb page.  I find it strange that the Kindle TOC typically plops the reader right on page one.  I think it's a better reader experience to have some orientation with a blurb page and a title page.

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2013, 11:33:53 AM »
I find blurbs inside the book incredibly annoying.  Since it's already on the product page, I don't want to be forced to read it twice.  I want to see the actual story when I'm looking inside the book, not an advertisement for it.  Besides, your blurb can take up most of your sample if your story is short. 

A blurb shouldn't be longer than a couple paragraphs. That's maybe a screen flip or two at most? I'd much rather see that than pages and pages of glossary and breathless reviews stuck in the front of the book.

A good sample should be the cover, the blurb, and the first chunk of story. That's what I want to see in samples I download and what I'll include in samples I provide for my book (assuming it's possible to control what's in the sample, anyway).

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2013, 11:43:11 AM »
One of the arguments I've heard for including the blurb in the front matter is for those readers (like me) who download a lot of sample chapters and then sit down with their ereader and don't remember what the book was about before reading the sample. Reading the blurb right off the ereader would save me time having to go back to the website to try and remember why the heck I downloaded the sample.

Yes, but not for samples. . . .for books you already bought.  So that when you're looking for something to read you can see fairly easily -- without an internet connection -- what the book is about and whether it's what you're in the mood for just now.

Except if your blurb sucks, they might not go any further.  ;D

I could see the benefit. But then again, I read a lot. None of the books I download have blurbs in the front and I fast-forward quickly through all front matter. That's just me; I don't know what the masses want. Someone run a poll in a reader's area.

Well, no. . . . . if the blurb sucks, they already rejected the book on Amazon.  This is just a reminder of what it's about for those that have already bought it.  

I think front matter has information for book buyers. It has copyright information, as well as cataloging information. Often, rather than a full blurb, there is a single sentence hook that concisely tells what the book is about. I don't think there's room for a full blurb on the front matter (at least not in a printed book).

We're not talking anything extensive. . . no more than what's up on Amazon that is designed to entice the reader.  Or, thinking about it another way, about the length of what you find on the back of paperbacks or the inside flap of a hard back dust jacket.

I find blurbs inside the book incredibly annoying.  Since it's already on the product page, I don't want to be forced to read it twice.  I want to see the actual story when I'm looking inside the book, not an advertisement for it.  Besides, your blurb can take up most of your sample if your story is short.  

Keep in mind that if you want to persuade a buyer to spend money on the book, seeing a blurb twice with almost no writing sample is not the way to do it, especially if it's a mediocre blurb and you think your actual text is better.


The sample length issue is certainly a consideration.  I wouldn't see the need for a blurb on a really short work -- and if it's there it will make the sample less useful.  But one 'kindle page' in a longer book (print length 300-400 pages or more) wouldn't have much effect.  You'd still get a good bit of the story in a sample.


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Offline swolf

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2013, 12:04:04 PM »
Another thread made mention of the idea of placing a book's blurb in the front matter.

Whoever suggested that must have been a FREAKING GENIUS!!!   :)

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2013, 12:16:21 PM »
I like short blurbs in the front matter, and I added one to my book as well. Like others, I often buy books long before I'll be able to read them, and by the time I'm ready, I've forgotten what it was about. If I'm somewhere without a connection (often while traveling), then all I have to go on is the cover and title.

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Offline Amy Corwin

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2013, 12:18:02 PM »
I agree--it was a brilliant suggestion. I first ran across it on JA Konrath's blog and it makes a lot of sense. I forget all the time what a book is about so having the blurb helps me to figure out if I want to read that particular book now.

Like others said, it's a great idea and I hope all authors will start doing that because it makes it a lot easier for me as a reader. :)

Offline CLStone

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2013, 12:24:48 PM »
I've been putting a snippet from deeper within the book, a good emotional stress point that features some of the drama going on within. It's similar to how a lot of professionally published books will place sample snippets right at the beginning.

I don't know what it does for book sales, but I think I've had a few readers ask me how I picked the snippet out, so they do notice.


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Offline antares

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2013, 12:26:33 PM »
Another thread made mention of the idea of placing a book's blurb in the front matter. I wanted to explore this a bit further as I am about to republish some of my books with new covers and streamlined front and back matter. Does anyone do this? Is there truly a point to it? It seems redundant to me since the blurb is right at their fingertips on the website they are viewing the book at, but perhaps I am overlooking something. Thoughts?

I think adding the blurb to the front matter is a mistake.

Why?

It will eat up your sample space.

I wrote a blog post on this subject, lessee, over a year ago. Where is it? Oh, yeah, here: thelogoftheantares.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-to-lose-reader-how-to-lead.html

I read notes from others that say they want to see the blurb to remind them about the book. Different strokes.

Me? Give me a sample of your writing. Pare down your front matter to get me to your writing as fast as you can. Your front matter should be cover; title page (if you can insert your copyright here, okay, BUT KEEP IT SHORT); and maybe . . . maybe ToC (Chapter 1, Chapter 2 , . . . , Chapter 63 -- don't bother me with it; if your chapter titles are descriptive, maybe); and story. Put anything and everything else at the back: dedications, thank-yous, acknowledgements, copyright notice, ToC (I've seen it done), reviews, blurbs, To Do lists, grandma's secret magic brownie recipe, whatever.

But I get a feeling you asked this question to get confirmation to do what you already decided to do anyway. So go do that damned foolish thing.

But check your sample and see how much space your precious eats up.

Offline Amanda Brice

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2013, 12:31:02 PM »
Often, rather than a full blurb, there is a single sentence hook that concisely tells what the book is about.

You don't need a full-blown blurb, but even a sentence or two to remind me why I downloaded your book (or sample) in the first place would be helpful. I have a TBR queue of several hundred books, so usually I don't read the book immediately after purchasing. It could be days, weeks, months, or even years before I get to it, and if I'm scrolling through covers I'll stumble upon something that looks intriguing, I want to be able to tell at a glance if it's something I'm in the mood for right then.

I used to do this simply by picking up a book off my shelf and turning it over to read the back cover copy. I can't do this with an ebook, so please give me an easy way to virtually turn the book over. Give me a short blurb in the front matter. If I don't have that blurb and I can't remember why I downloaded the book in the first place, then I move on.
 
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Offline Jason Varrone

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2013, 12:31:54 PM »
But I get a feeling you asked this question to get confirmation to do what you already decided to do anyway. So go do that damned foolish thing.

Actually, I asked the question because I was curious how popular this idea had become, and if it was truly worthwhile doing. I've been following the thread closely and, quite honestly, have still not made up my mind. I prefer short front matter, as short as I can make it, but I do see some advantages for a reader who buys a fair amount of books and doesn't read them for some time later.

By all means, keep the thoughts coming if you feel strongly either way.

Offline swolf

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2013, 12:40:30 PM »
But check your sample and see how much space your precious eats up.[/size][/font]

No need to check.  The amount it would deduct from the sample would be 90% of blurb size.

For example, if your blurb is 500 characters, it would deduct about 450 characters from your sample. (The samples never cut a sentence off, so it will vary slightly.)

In my opinion, that little of a difference isn't going to affect a reader's decision based on the sample.  If the sample is short enough to be drastically affected by 450 characters, then it's probably not very effective in the first place.

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2013, 12:42:34 PM »
I think adding the blurb to the front matter is a mistake.

Why?

It will eat up your sample space.

This really only matters for very short stories. A full-length book has a sizeable enough sample that a short 100-200 word blurb is not going to eat up much space at all. In mine, for example, there is a blurb, copyright, TOC (with titles), dedication, and still includes nearly two full (quite long) chapters. The book is 89K words, btw.

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Offline ellenoc

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2013, 12:45:28 PM »
I have my books start at the blurb. Have done it since I started 3-1/2 years ago. My reason is that I personally wish it were there for all books, just like the flyleaf info in a hard cover or back cover info on a paperback. If I don't read the book the minute I download it, if I'm looking for something to reread.... I like it there. If someone else doesn't it takes one big fat click to get by it, which I don't think should bother them to the point of avoiding my books.

If your full blurb is too long, shorten it.

I recently started rereading a series by a favorite author. I did look up the book info for each one on Kindle, and you know what? Most of the time that little buy page comes up, and the story summary isn't there. Or only part of it's there. That page is very different on a Kindle than on a PC. On the Kindle the book descriptions often start with review info and nothing else shows. I'd have to page along to get to what I wanted. For some of them (traditionally pub'd) I had to find the description in a reader review because it wasn't in the book info at all, just a bunch of blah, blah there. It didn't stop me doing the rereading, but it was time consuming and annoying. I don't think indies can afford to waste readers' time and be annoying.

Offline Amanda Brice

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2013, 12:48:09 PM »
What they said. If you have a novella or longer, adding the typical blurb to the sample really isn't going to make a difference whatsoever. It might make a difference with a short story however, depending on the length.

Amazon's samples are 10% of the file size. The typical blurb is 2 paragraphs. 10% of a 300-page book is 30 pages. So the sample would be 30 pages, minus about 2 paragraphs.

However, if your 30 is only 30 pages, then the sample size is 3 pages, so 2 paragraphs becomes a much bigger part of the whole.
 
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Offline Amanda Brice

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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2013, 01:00:26 PM »
The reason I have so many books waiting to be read on my Kindle is because once I read and fall in love with a book by a new-to-me author, I proceed to buy all of her backlist and just glom onto it right then, even if I already have 100+ other books already loaded onto the Kindle.

You may say, "Well, what difference does it make if you read the book, as long as you bought it in the first place?" Sure, that works for this one sale, but it's not forward-thinking at all. You want your readers to buy all your books, not just buy one and never read it. And if you don't give me a reason to want to read your book (ie, remind me what it's about the next time I'm scrolling through my queue looking for a book to read), then I just won't. Which means that sure, you got yout $2 royalty on that sale (assuming I bought the book instead of merely downloaded a sample), but you lost out on the royalties for all the other books.
 
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Re: Blurb in Front Matter?
« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2013, 01:07:41 PM »
* * * but you lost out on the royalties for all the other books.

Worse, you lost out on word-of-mouth I just read a good book from a reader.