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Discussion Starter #1
I've published my book a month ago, but I've created the blurb before I discovered KBoards, and then I was riding the publishing train, and everything was crazy... Long story short, I want to re-examine the blurb now. When I read it, I do feel that it has some problems.

UPDATE

I created a new blurb according to pretty much almost all of the great suggestions I received:

Amy knows she would hate moving to Narrowdale, a boring suburban town. Being a high school freshman in a new place makes it even worse. And that's before she starts having the same nightmare over and over again. Before she wakes up every night to a creepy whistle outside her window. Before she becomes haunted by a mysterious, menacing presence.

As she delves deeper into the truth, she unknowingly edges closer to mortal danger. Terrible events that took place years before might claim her life as well, and the one man who is supposed to protect her, nineteen year old Peter, doesn't believe her.

Some things seem to happen only in Narrowdale, where dark secrets hide beneath the surface...


I moved the entire thing to present tense because the second line requires it. And, of course, I have no idea if it's better or worse, because somehow my sense of criticism is on vacation...
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So here it is:

Amy knew she'd hate Narrowdale, a boring suburban town. How could it possibly compare to L.A., where she lived her entire life? Being a high school freshman in a new place made things even worse.

And that was before she started having the same nightmare over and over again. Before she woke up every night to a shrill whistle outside her window. Before she met a homeless man who seemed to know way too much.

Some things seem to happen only in Narrowdale, where dark secrets are hiding beneath the surface...


As I know well from giving out advice, additional info about the book will be helpful, so:

1. Sleepless is the first book in a series called "Narrowdale" about things happening in the fictional town Narrowdale. They will probably be mostly told from Amy's point of view
2. Narrowdale is a weird town in which strange unexplained (paranormal...?) things happen. The inspiration is mostly Eerie Indiana, but for those of you who don't know what that is... Twin peaks is a good example
3. Amy dreams every night that someone is chasing her
4. She befriends two other teens - Shane and Coral, and together they delve deeper into the meaning of her dreams
5. What she is actually dreaming are the last memories of a woman called Kimberly White who was kidnapped and murdered nine years ago

One additional thing to consider: The book has links within it to the protagonist's blog (Not a lot, 4 in number). I go back and forth about adding it to the blurb. On one hand, as someone here told me, it's not part of the plot, it isn't significant to the story, it's the kind of nice Easter egg that's awesome to discover when reading, and I completely agree. On the other hand, I am an unknown author with a nice gimmick in his book which might draw interest. When I send the book to blogs, or put it in a giveaway, I do mention this to stand out.

Anyway, any suggestions would be very welcome

Thanks!
 

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Hey man, I thought the blurb wasn't bad. I did get tripped up a tiny bit here:
"And that was before she started having the same nightmare over and over again. Before she woke up every night to a shrill whistle outside her window. Before she met a homeless man who seemed to know way too much."

I started re-reading the 2nd sentence because I thought you were setting up a sentence like this:
"Before he went to the movies, he got some cash from the bank."

This could just be a "me" thing, but letting you know.

Beyond that, I think you should remember you're writing sales copy -- you want to fill the seats (vs. inform readers of background information).  This blurb doesn't "inform," which is great.

The first part of the blurb about thinking her new home would be boring seems to suggest an immediate follow up, "But then..."  You sort of deliver this with the "before she met" stuff, but I think it should immediately follow the set up about how she'd thought it'd be boring, to show it isn't.

Anyway, just my thoughts.  Not sure if I'm helping or hurting, but trying. :)

Cheers
 

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It's a good blurb, but as someone who reads paranormal YA, I would want to know more about what kind of paranormal we're getting (e.g. ghosts? vampires? something totally new?)

Also at the risk of suggesting that you sacrifice your artistic integrity--how do I put this... remember when Tony Blair told his cabinet to "sex up" a dossier during the Iraq war? I'm going to be Tony Blair here. I think even when a YA paranormal ins't a romance (mine isn't), there's often some kind of relationship subplot or a hint of a relationship. Is there a romantic guy/girl in the picture, or even interesting friends (male or female)? Right now the homeless man reference reads like the opposite of sexy. Unless he's a sexy homeless man. I feel like there should be some element of wish fulfillment.

 

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I think YA paranormal readers often go looking for books based on the type of supernatural content, e.g. "I want a werewolf book," or "I want a vampire book."
 

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Discussion Starter #6
CN_Crawford said:
I think YA paranormal readers often go looking for books based on the type of supernatural content, e.g. "I want a werewolf book," or "I want a vampire book."
That's true, and I haven't thought of that. I'll have to think how to say it's a ghost book without saying it's a ghost book...

surenfant said:
The blurb is good. Makes me wonder what happens next. I guess it'll catch the other readers attention too.

Best luck with your book.
Cool, thanks :)

johnlmonk said:
Hey man, I thought the blurb wasn't bad. I did get tripped up a tiny bit here:
"And that was before she started having the same nightmare over and over again. Before she woke up every night to a shrill whistle outside her window. Before she met a homeless man who seemed to know way too much."

I started re-reading the 2nd sentence because I thought you were setting up a sentence like this:
"Before he went to the movies, he got some cash from the bank."

This could just be a "me" thing, but letting you know.
oooh... Haven't thought of that...
 

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Well first, I do think the blurb is intriguing. To show how subjective this whole writing thing is, I also like your sentence structure with the "Before" bits.

To improve it, I think we could use a little more information here, and I agree that you could replace the homeless man line with something maybe a little more revealing. Could you hint that murder was involved? I might mention that her dreams involve her being chased. Does she feel in danger during them? And is she actually in danger from these dreams or the ghost? If so, I might mention that without giving away too many details.
 
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I also like your use of 'Before.'

smikeo said:
2. Narrowdale is a weird town in which strange unexplained (paranormal...?) things happen. The inspiration is mostly Eerie Indiana, but for those of you who don't know what that is... Twin peaks is a good example
Do strange things happen to everyone there or just to Amy? If it's everyone, then is it common knowledge amongst the inhabitants of Narrowdale but a secret to newbies/outsiders like Amy?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
CadyVance said:
To improve it, I think we could use a little more information here, and I agree that you could replace the homeless man line with something maybe a little more revealing. Could you hint that murder was involved? I might mention that her dreams involve her being chased. Does she feel in danger during them? And is she actually in danger from these dreams or the ghost? If so, I might mention that without giving away too many details.
Good points. I can't really hint that murder was involved. However she does feel as if she is in danger during her dreams. I'll try and insert the chase into the blurb, see if it works.

Augusta Blythe said:
Do strange things happen to everyone there or just to Amy? If it's everyone, then is it common knowledge amongst the inhabitants of Narrowdale but a secret to newbies/outsiders like Amy?
A lot of the inhabitants know that Narrowdale is strange, and they don't talk about it. The grownups either try to ignore it or hush it up. The kids talk among themselves about it.
 

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Maybe you could use words like "ghostly" or "spectral" to give a hint, or you could use a phrase like "haunting her dreams," something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay I fiddled with it a bit according to the suggestions so far:

Amy knew she'd hate Narrowdale, a boring suburban town. How could it possibly compare to L.A., where she lived her entire life? Being a high school freshman in a new place made things even worse.

And that was before she started dreaming of being chased over and over again. Before she woke up every night to a creepy whistle outside her window. Before she became haunted by things that happened years before.

Some things seem to happen only in Narrowdale, where dark secrets are hiding beneath the surface...


Creepy is much better than shrill. And I'm pretty sure I like the haunted sentence better than the homeless one. Is the "dreaming of being chased" better than "having the same nightmare"?
 

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I think what's missing is more about the stakes. Is she at risk? Are her friends at risk? The hint of strange things is okay, but how is it dangerous? You don't have to come out and say it if it's too spoilery, but I feel like I don't know what's riding on her being successful. There's decent setup - she's new in town, used to live in the big city, starting at a new school... enter weird dreams and creepy noises... and.... and.... and....

I think you need to hit on what happens at the transition from act one to act two, where the story really launches, and give a stronger hint about what the story is really about, aside from a girl with creepy dreams in a weird town.

(And blurb writing is hard!)
 

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I agree with Claire that we really need a story, here. What does Amy want and what is keeping her from it? You've done a great job setting the tone, but what is the book about? I feel like you've stopped just short of the launch, you've got all the set up, we just need one more beat, I think, to transition into Act 2.

I initially did not like the "before" structure, but that may be because I'm still new at this and overly beholden to "the rules." When I read over your second attempt, I felt like the first two paragraphs have a good, energetic voice. I think, though, that you could condense the first two paras into one, then use the next para to bring up the dark secrets, then the final para to tell us where the rubber meets the road. Now that you've got your big city girl in this creepy little town, and the past is seeping into her dreams, what will she do and what will try to stop her?

Two nit picks: I would not use the contraction "she'd" in your first sentence. "She'd" could be a contraction for a couple different words, so it is a bit ambiguous. Normally that would be okay, but I had a hard time pinning down the "now" of this blurb the first time I read it. From her pov, is she looking ahead, knowing she is going to hate it; or is she looking back, remembering how she had known she was going to hate it? I'm not sure that saying "she would" instead of "she'd" will fix that, but I might help. The other nitpick, "she became haunted by things that happened" I think you could rewrite this more better. It seems kinda clunky, especially since you have the phrase "things...happen" repeated in the very next sentence. (also, I would cut "seem" from your last sentence, it is a modifier the sucks power out of the sentence.) Maybe try ~ . Before events of the past return to haunt her. - or - Before deeds long forgotten begin seeping into her dreams. ~ The nuts and bolts here is, if possible, start your sentence with the subject (the past) then what the subject does (haunts) then who the subject does it to (Amy). That'll give you more pop and less clunk, most of the time.

Overall, this sounds like a great setup for an ongoing series. I hope my comments help.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Axel Blackwell said:
I agree with Claire that we really need a story, here. What does Amy want and what is keeping her from it? You've done a great job setting the tone, but what is the book about? I feel like you've stopped just short of the launch, you've got all the set up, we just need one more beat, I think, to transition into Act 2.

I initially did not like the "before" structure, but that may be because I'm still new at this and overly beholden to "the rules." When I read over your second attempt, I felt like the first two paragraphs have a good, energetic voice. I think, though, that you could condense the first two paras into one, then use the next para to bring up the dark secrets, then the final para to tell us where the rubber meets the road. Now that you've got your big city girl in this creepy little town, and the past is seeping into her dreams, what will she do and what will try to stop her?

Two nit picks: I would not use the contraction "she'd" in your first sentence. "She'd" could be a contraction for a couple different words, so it is a bit ambiguous. Normally that would be okay, but I had a hard time pinning down the "now" of this blurb the first time I read it. From her pov, is she looking ahead, knowing she is going to hate it; or is she looking back, remembering how she had known she was going to hate it? I'm not sure that saying "she would" instead of "she'd" will fix that, but I might help. The other nitpick, "she became haunted by things that happened" I think you could rewrite this more better. It seems kinda clunky, especially since you have the phrase "things...happen" repeated in the very next sentence. (also, I would cut "seem" from your last sentence, it is a modifier the sucks power out of the sentence.) Maybe try ~ . Before events of the past return to haunt her. - or - Before deeds long forgotten begin seeping into her dreams. ~ The nuts and bolts here is, if possible, start your sentence with the subject (the past) then what the subject does (haunts) then who the subject does it to (Amy). That'll give you more pop and less clunk, most of the time.

Overall, this sounds like a great setup for an ongoing series. I hope my comments help.
Awesome, yes, they help a lot. Definitely kicking myself about the things... happen duplication.

Claire Frank said:
I think what's missing is more about the stakes. Is she at risk? Are her friends at risk? The hint of strange things is okay, but how is it dangerous? You don't have to come out and say it if it's too spoilery, but I feel like I don't know what's riding on her being successful. There's decent setup - she's new in town, used to live in the big city, starting at a new school... enter weird dreams and creepy noises... and.... and.... and....

I think you need to hit on what happens at the transition from act one to act two, where the story really launches, and give a stronger hint about what the story is really about, aside from a girl with creepy dreams in a weird town.

(And blurb writing is hard!)
Yeah, blurb writing is the worst. I'll play with it a bit. It's tricky because the stakes really aren't high until the last minute. It's more of a mystery book.

Augusta Blythe said:
+1

Instead of 'are hiding,' maybe use an active verb like 'lurk' or 'hide'?
Some things seem to happen only in Narrowdale, where dark secrets hide beneath the surface... Is it better? I find it hard to tell...

I think I have good stuff to work with here, I'll sleep, and struggle with it tomorrow, when I'm less blurry eyed...
 

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Here's my take on it...

The first sentence/paragraph of a blurb is critical. A prospective reader is under no obligation to continue to the second paragraph, or even the second sentence. You have to catch their attention immediately or the percentage of eyeballs that makes it through to the end of the blurb plummets (as do sales).

Keeping the above in mind, I see two problems with your first paragraph:

1. It doesn't speak to your genre, being void of any reference to the paranormal (which is what your prospective readers want).

2. It doesn't contain any story tension - no dramatic question is raised. Another way of saying that is that there's no hook. If the first paragraph doesn't set up some kind of story question (or contain a hook) then you don't have curiosity working as a motivator to draw the prospective reader onward.

Just my humble opinion. Hope that helps. 
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Jack Krenneck said:
Here's my take on it...

The first sentence/paragraph of a blurb is critical. A prospective reader is under no obligation to continue to the second paragraph, or even the second sentence. You have to catch their attention immediately or the percentage of eyeballs that makes it through to the end of the blurb plummets (as do sales).

Keeping the above in mind, I see two problems with your first paragraph:

1. It doesn't speak to your genre, being void of any reference to the paranormal (which is what your prospective readers want).

2. It doesn't contain any story tension - no dramatic question is raised. Another way of saying that is that there's no hook. If the first paragraph doesn't set up some kind of story question (or contain a hook) then you don't have curiosity working as a motivator to draw the prospective reader onward.

Just my humble opinion. Hope that helps.
That's a good point, Jack, thanks!

I think I'll combine your suggestion with Axel's, try to combine the first two paragraphs to one. I'll give it a shot now, see what I get.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Okay, take 2:

Amy knows she would hate moving to Narrowdale, a boring suburban town. Being a high school freshman in a new place makes it even worse. And that's before she starts having the same nightmare over and over again. Before she wakes up every night to a creepy whistle outside her window. Before she becomes haunted by an mysterious, menacing presence.

As she delves deeper into the truth, she unknowingly edges closer to mortal danger. Terrible events that took place years before might claim her life as well.

Some things seem to happen only in Narrowdale, where dark secrets hide beneath the surface...


Better...? Worse...? Is the present tense annoying?
 
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