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Discussion Starter #1
I sure could use your help. I've been working on my novel GUARDING THE HEALER. It has received wonderful reviews, but it still doesn't sell very well. It is a stand alone book in the Dark Fantasy/Horror genre, so I understand it's not going to perform like a book in a romance series, but still, something is wrong.

I've changed the cover a few times. I'm still using the original cover for the paperback, though. I've experimented with price, and changed the blurb a few times, but I think it could still use some work.

This is what I have right now:

"Not all gifts are free. Some will cost you dearly.

When Silas Walker becomes endowed with the power to heal the sick, he finds himself in the midst of an invisible war that has been raging between the forces of Shadow and Light since the beginning of time.

Plagued by an army of Shadow Angels and hunted by a demon-possessed man, Silas must find a way to use his gift to protect those he loves and rid the world of this ancient evil.

The enemy is gathering for battle. Silas's only hope rests in the Guardian Angel he doesn't even know exists. But time is running out. And even an angel cannot change the destiny of a man.

Fans of Stephen King and Dean Koontz will enjoy this tale of love and loss, good and evil, damnation and redemption. Frightening at times, heart wrenching at others, the believable characters and unpredictable events will keep you pondering this story long after you close the book."

I also follow this up with a few quotes from some of the 5 star reviews the book has received. I did this (the quotes and the Stephen King/Dean Koontz mention) following advice I read about making your blub stand out, but now I'm not so sure.

I throw myself upon your mercies. Please help me fix this blurb.

Thank you.
 

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Gabriel Beyers said:
Not all gifts are free. Some will cost you dearly. (1)

When (2) Silas Walker becomes endowed with the power to heal the sick, he finds himself in the midst of an invisible war that has been raging between the forces of Shadow and Light (3) since the beginning of time.

Plagued by an army of Shadow Angels (4) and hunted by a demon-possessed man, Silas must (5) find a way to use his gift to protect those he loves and rid the world of this ancient evil. (6)

The enemy is gathering for battle. Silas's only hope rests in the (7) Guardian Angel he doesn't even know exists. But time is running out. (8) And even an angel cannot change the destiny of a man.

Fans of Stephen King and Dean Koontz (9) will enjoy (10) this tale of love and loss, good and evil, d*mnation and redemption. (11) Frightening at times, heart wrenching at others, (12) the believable characters (13) and unpredictable events (14) will keep you pondering this story long after you close the book. (15)
1) I don't much care for taglines in blurbs, but when they're there I want them to be powerful. The second person pronoun hurts that. If anything the first sentence stands much better alone.
2) Cliché.
3) I think I'd lose the mention of the sides, and just say it's an invisible war that's gone on since the beginning of time.
4) How and in what way?
5) Moderately cliché.
6) What ancient evil?
7) In context, I think this should be "a".
8) Time for what, and how? This doesn't feel earned. It also wants to be joined to the following sentence with a comma.
9) Name dropping is blurb poison. Kill it with fire!
10) Author boast.
11) ...and a "This book is about" for good measure. It's the unholy trinity of deadly blurb sins, all of which are forms of the cardinal sin: talking to the reader.
12) More author boasts, with a side of Care Bear cliché. Ack ack ack.
13) Ack.
14) Ack.
15) Second person reader-talk is so much worse. Also, aaaaack.

I also follow this up with a few quotes from some of the 5 star reviews the book has received. I did this (the quotes and the Stephen King/Dean Koontz mention) following advice I read about making your blub stand out, but now I'm not so sure.
Don't put review text in a blurb--it's dreadful. Let the reviews do their thing in their own space. The back cover of a print edition is an entirely different story though, and I think there a review from a well-known reviewer would be fine.

Okay, back up to the notes. About the worst thing you can do in a blurb is talk to the reader. This should never, ever be done. That whole last paragraph needs to be staked. The blurb is a description, a diorama, where the reader gets a glimpse at what the world of the story is like and what's going down right around where act 1 transitions to act 2--that's where the action really picks up, and it's also not so late that it's giving away major parts of the story.

I'll explain that paragraph's issues a bit further, because their problems extend past the mere fact of talking to the reader (which is bad enough). Name dropping: You've set yourself up for impossible comparisons, and people who aren't fans of one of those writers but might still enjoy your book will run away. Author boasts: What you say about the good points about your own book lacks credibility and is off-putting. Let the reviewers praise you, and let them do it where reviews belong. Finally, anything of the form "This book is about" looks amateurish; if the blurb proper didn't already effectively say what it's about, you're adding nothing.

I'd like to offer a rewrite suggestion, but there are huge gaps in the plot. I don't understand what the deal is with the Shadow Angels plaguing Silas or the man hunting him. What ancient evil does he have to rid the world of, and will it end or shift the balance of power in the war? Who's the Guardian Angel protecting him--do they have a name? I'd like to know more details here, especially anything that happens within the first act or very early in the second. The blurb lives right around that boundary, in a loose cloud that drifts a little earlier; everything in that cloud is its "now", everything before is past tense, and everything after is not blurb-relevant (but may be foreshadowed, subtly).

In a rewrite, besides axing the clichés and the reader-talk, I'd focus on giving the blurb a sense of structure: two or three paragraphs (no more--tagline not included though), each with a specific focus like character, conflict, etc. It also needs temporal focus, so all the tension is poised as the story is really about to explode. Right now I'm confused on what the stakes are except that they're vaguely big, and I don't really know anything about what's going on in the war beyond that.
 

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My two cents?

To heal others, Silas Walker must inhabit a warzone. Haunted by shadow angels and unaware of his guardian ... As the final battle looms, ...

I guess I want the end of the blurb to end with a kicker. Hint at the crisis, the unsolvable dilemma. What is it that could break your hero?

Hope I helped a bit :)
 

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The blurb is a description, a diorama, where the reader gets a glimpse at what the world of the story is like and what's going down right around where act 1 transitions to act 2--that's where the action really picks up, and it's also not so late that it's giving away major parts of the story.
Lummox JR, I don't think I've seen the "point in story time" of the blurb stated this clearly before. It's very helpful.
 

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MorganKegan said:
Lummox JR, I don't think I've seen the "point in story time" of the blurb stated this clearly before. It's very helpful.
Thanks. It's one of those things I picked up by observation; I was trying to figure out why present tense is usually so much stronger and when "now" refers to, and that's when it occurred to me. The blurb's "now" is very loose, temporally, but it has a sweet spot.

Gabriel Beyers said:
Thanks for the help. This blurb came about from me taking all the wrong advice. I never felt good about it. I will drop a nuke on it and start over from scratch.
If you can post a few more details I'm not getting about the conflict--especially act 1 stuff--I might be able to help with that.
 

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Lummox JR is very wise on blurbs.
And never ever ever compare yourself to other authors.  Let the readers do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sorry about that. I was at work, typing on my phone, so it was difficult to explain more about my book.  Okay, here it goes.

The story is about Silas Walker. Much of the story is told through his POV, but some chapters are told through the POV of the guardian angel, Nassarius, the antagonist, referred to as Demon Rick, and occasionally a few other side characters.

In the beginning of the book, a man named Rick commits a double murder as a sort of sacrifice to spirits he has been communicating with. He becomes possessed by a powerful demon. Shortly after, a teenage Silas and his family start to experience paranormal activities in their home. Silas's guardian angel, Nassarius, is able to see that demons are collecting around Silas, though he doesn't know why.

Eventually the demons (shadow angels), led by Demon Rick, attack Silas, but find they don't have the power to kill him. Demon Rick leaves to make mischief elsewhere and Nassarius fends off the remaining demons.

Years later, Silas's power continues to grow. He finds that he has the gift of "faith healing". His gift ostracizes from the community, even from his friends and family. He soon begins to receive photos of violent murders from Demon Rick.

Silas's wife becomes terminally ill and he's unable to heal her, which causes him to doubt the purpose of his gift. Demon Rick confronts Silas and tells him he can heal Silas's wife if Silas is willing to yield his body over to the demon. Silas refuses and Demon Rick promises to punish him.

After his wife dies, Silas leaves town hoping to draw Demon Rick away from his loved ones. Demon Rick follows, killing those that Silas comes across. Unbeknownst to Silas, he is being framed as a serial killer. Demon Rick will destroy Silas one way or another.

Silas finally realizes he can't outrun his enemy and must turn and face him if he hopes to stop the killings. Demon Rick brings with him an army of shadow angels, while Nassarius calls upon the angels of light to come to Silas's aid.

That's probably a lot more than you wanted. Sorry. It's been a long day and my brain feels fried. I hope it makes sense. Thanks again.
 

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Okay, I think I have enough material to work with here. I'm trying to keep it focused on early stuff, so please let me know if I push too far into act 2.

Silas Walker discovered as a teenager that he could heal the sick, only to discover as an adult that his gift had a limit--and a terrible price. He can't save the one person he loves most, and his power has embroiled him in a supernatural conflict that has raged since the beginning of time. Embittered and confused, he wants nothing to do with either side.

But war won't leave him alone. A possessed man calling himself Demon Rick has made it a personal mission to make Silas suffer for his gift, and leaves a trail of bodies everywhere he goes to prove it. The only thing holding Rick back at all is the vigilance of Silas's unseen guardian angel, who is embattled even when he can spare the resources to intervene.

The power in Silas is valuable to both sides, spurring each to gather forces to battle for his destiny--and the side of Shadow has a long head start. One angel can only do so much to help. And as far as Silas knows, he's on his own.


That feels really rough. I'm not sure I'm capturing the stakes of the conflict well enough at all. But it's at least a starting point.
 

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Maybe try:

"Not all gifts are free. Some will cost you dearly.

When Silas Walker becomes endowed with the power to heal the sick, he finds himself in the midst of an invisible war that has been raging between the forces of Shadow and Light since the beginning of time.

The enemy is gathering for battle. Silas's only hope rests in the Guardian Angel. But even an angel cannot change the destiny of a man.
Fans of Stephen King and Dean Koontz will enjoy this tale of love and loss, good and evil, d*mnation and redemption."

Shortened it because read somewhere that book buyers spend about 5 seconds when looking at blurbs and covers before deciding whether to proceed further and maybe read a sample.
Good luck.
 

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sstroble said:
Shortened it because read somewhere that book buyers spend about 5 seconds when looking at blurbs and covers before deciding whether to proceed further and maybe read a sample.
Short-but-sweet is not always a recipe for success with blurbs. You have to figure that after they've clicked on the cover, they actually want the blurb to draw them in. The critical thing is that the blurb should have maximum impact, and not be overly wordy. A three-paragraph blurb can be more effective than one, if it lays out the main character(s) very well and gives enough of a taste of the conflict to leave palpable tension. One-paragraph blurbs can also be highly effective; what length works best depends largely on the nature of the story. (My only major criterion for length: Aside from a tagline and/or fact line, I never let a blurb go past three paragraphs.)

Nonetheless whenever you do cut stuff out of a blurb, clichés and awful reader-talk must always be the first to get the ax. (As they should anyway.) They're the weakest links.
 

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And please lose Stephen and Dean.
You do not want those particular reviews which start out this book is nothing like either one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you. I dumped the King and Koontz reference. Lummox you have given me a lot to work with. In the story Silas takes up with a young drifter named Tommy. Tommy ends up being the key to defeating Demon Rick. Should I mention this in the blurb or is that too much information?
 

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