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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm planning a kindle countdown promo and, as always, have received some good advice on another thread from the Writers' Cafe about the deficiencies in my cover and blurb. I'm always grateful for feedback, even if it might sting a bit ;) - however, the thought occurred to me that what a science fiction or romance author may feel is important may not necessarily work for my chosen genre, historical fiction.

To me, an historical fiction reader would be more interested in the blurb identifying which period and what circumstances the story is about than how attractive the cover is. Having said that I also admit I'm a complete newbie and could be completely off track with this thought.

I love some ideas from other historical fiction authors about what their experiences with promotions have been. Do you feel the cover or blurb worked best for you ?

While I'm in the begging mode :-[ I'd also really appreciate any thoughts on my blurb:

Patrick's Journey is an historical fiction novel based on the real life history of one of Australia's early convict settlers. It could be described as simply an entertaining "romance/adventure" novel, but the story goes deeper than that. The "Journey" in the story is twofold, there is the physical journey from one mode of existence in Ireland to a completely different one in Australia and the emotional/spiritual journey that accompanies such drastic changes in Patrick's world.
Patrick Rourke is a 17 year old Irishman in the year of 1790. Like many young men he is patriotic, adventurous and headstrong. He also feels assured of a bright future with his sweetheart Catherine. Patrick's world comes crashing down around him when he becomes a pawn in the political aspirations of the United Irishmen under Wolfe Tone. He finds himself in prison sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales and begins a downward spiral into rage and depression.
Patrick's saviour comes in the form of Father Michael O'Court, the chaplain of the prison ship Boddington. Over time Patrick is guided out of his depression and is able to accept the vastly different directions that his life's journey has taken. He also finds an unlikely mentor in one Preston Balfour, a British Army officer who was originally his target for assassination, but who ultimately provides him with the means of restoring his life in a new land.
Patrick's life is complete when tragic circumstances eventually lead to him being reunited with Catherine for a new life in a new land. He comes to realise that the most important journey we travel is not measured in miles but by our changes within.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Just found a very useful survey of historical fiction readers, its from 2013 so still fairly current.

http://awriterofhistory.com/2014/01/10/2013-historical-fiction-survey-results/

From what I'm reading here the blurb is more important than the cover - about 2000 (90%) participants chose subject matter as being very or extremely important while less than 500 rated the cover in the same way.
 

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HobieYak said:
Patrick's Journey is an historical fiction novel based on the real life history of one of Australia's early convict settlers. It could be described as simply an entertaining "romance/adventure" novel, but the story goes deeper than that. The "Journey" in the story is twofold, there is the physical journey from one mode of existence in Ireland to a completely different one in Australia and the emotional/spiritual journey that accompanies such drastic changes in Patrick's world.
Patrick Rourke is a 17 year old Irishman in the year of 1790. Like many young men he is patriotic, adventurous and headstrong. He also feels assured of a bright future with his sweetheart Catherine. Patrick's world comes crashing down around him when he becomes a pawn in the political aspirations of the United Irishmen under Wolfe Tone. He finds himself in prison sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales and begins a downward spiral into rage and depression.
Patrick's saviour comes in the form of Father Michael O'Court, the chaplain of the prison ship Boddington. Over time Patrick is guided out of his depression and is able to accept the vastly different directions that his life's journey has taken. He also finds an unlikely mentor in one Preston Balfour, a British Army officer who was originally his target for assassination, but who ultimately provides him with the means of restoring his life in a new land.
Patrick's life is complete when tragic circumstances eventually lead to him being reunited with Catherine for a new life in a new land. He comes to realise that the most important journey we travel is not measured in miles but by our changes within.
I'm no blurb expert, but I think you need to ditch the whole first paragraph. You could tell readers that the story is based on a real person, but all the other emotional stuff isn't important. Also, the last paragraph needs to go. You're giving away too much.
 

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HobieYak said:
I'm planning a kindle countdown promo and, as always, have received some good advice on another thread from the Writers' Cafe about the deficiencies in my cover and blurb. I'm always grateful for feedback, even if it might sting a bit ;) - however, the thought occurred to me that what a science fiction or romance author may feel is important may not necessarily work for my chosen genre, historical fiction.
I don't think you're wrong. People will usually give advice based on their personal preferences rather than what works in the market place, especially when their market is different from yours.

The thing with advice is that it's sometimes hard to know when it's good or bad. But if it can't be verified by reference to what successful authors are doing, then the alarm bells should probably start to ring...

Here's my advice. I hope it doesn't set off any bells.

I think the main issue with your blurb is that its voice is from the outside looking in. We're not in your main character's head, looking out. I think the second option allows people to better form an emotional connection with the hero.

I only occasionally read historical fiction. My next bit of advice to you is this: go and look at the Amazon top 100 in historical fiction. Do the majority of bestsellers have your current "distant" type blurb, or are they more intimate? I'm pretty sure they'll favor the intimate side of things.

Hope that helps.
 

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HobieYak said:
Just found a very useful survey of historical fiction readers, its from 2013 so still fairly current.

http://awriterofhistory.com/2014/01/10/2013-historical-fiction-survey-results/

From what I'm reading here the blurb is more important than the cover - about 2000 (90%) participants chose subject matter as being very or extremely important while less than 500 rated the cover in the same way.
Thanks for giving us this link. Statistically relevant research on this business is hard to find.

I don't think there were any surprises in the outcomes, especially about the blurb being more important than the cover. Not that covers aren't important too. However, the research talked about "subject matter" rather than "blurb," so that clouds the issue a bit.
 

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Allyson Jeleyne said:
I'm no blurb expert, but I think you need to ditch the whole first paragraph. You could tell readers that the story is based on a real person, but all the other emotional stuff isn't important. Also, the last paragraph needs to go. You're giving away too much.
Exactly this.

About blurb vs. cover: I don't see why it's worth giving much thought to which is more important when you have two things that you could improve to get more attention for your book. Improving the blurb is free, so obviously you'd want to do that. Improving the cover is not, but it's also the very first thing that a potential reader will see.

One thing to consider about the survey results you mentioned is the effect of a reader's self-concept. If I think that I am an intellectual who is interested in serious things, I wouldn't want to admit that I initially gave a book a look because there was a pretty girl on the cover.

Your blurb reminds me of the film Far and Away. Your cover makes me think of something dark/dreary about a prisoner--not at all an adventure/romance/journey of self-discovery. More than anything else, your cover needs to represent your story.

Take a look at one of the Far and Away posters:

http://www.impawards.com/1992/posters/far_and_away_ver2_xlg.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Jack Krenneck said:
My next bit of advice to you is this: go and look at the Amazon top 100 in historical fiction.
Thanks everyone for the advice / ideas :)

I am getting the cover re-worked. I've had a look at some of the best selling novels as suggested and am re-doing the blurb along these lines:

County Wicklow, Ireland 1790

It's springtime and 17 year old Patrick Rourke has everything to live for. He's young and healthy and has won the love of his sweetheart Catherine. However, in addition to being patriotic and adventurous Patrick has an unfortunate tendency to use his fists to settle disputes. A relatively minor confrontation with the occupying British Redcoats escalates and Patrick's world is torn apart as he becomes a pawn in the political aspirations of the United Irishmen and suffers the wrath of the British dominated Irish penal system.

Patrick begins an emotional and physical journey that will see him plummet into the depths of rage and despair as he is transported on the convict ship Boddington to the penal colony of New South Wales. His saviour comes in the form of the ship's chaplain, Father Michael O'Court. Over time Patrick is guided out of his depression and is able to accept the vastly different directions that his life's journey has taken. He also finds an unlikely mentor in one Preston Balfour, a British Army officer who was originally his target for assassination, but who ultimately provides him with the means of restoring his life in a new land.
Patrick's Journey is an historical fiction novel based on the real life history of one of Australia's early convict settlers
.
 

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Maybe something more like this:

County Wicklow, Ireland 1790

17 year old Patrick Rourke has everything to live for. He's young, healthy, and has won the love of his sweetheart Catherine. But when he is transported on a convict ship to the penal colony of New South Wales, Patrick is plummeted into the depths of rage and dispair. His saviour comes in the form of the ship's chaplain, Father Michael O'Court. In time Patrick is able to accept the vastly different directions that his life's journey has taken until he finds the British Army officer who was originally his target for assassination, but who could ultimately provide him with the means of restoring his life in a new land.

Patrick's Journey is based on the life history of one of Australia's early convict settlers.
 
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