Q: What’s a blurb?
A: It’s a short explanation of the plot and characters of your novel, designed to hook the interest of an agent, an editor, or a reader.
Q: You mean a synopsis?
For queries, most agents ask for a cover letter, a brief synopsis, and the first chapters of your novel. “Synopsis” does not mean telling them the story. You want to pique the interest of agents, not bore them.
You need to give them a good blurb.
You’ll find good examples of blurbs on the backs of paperback books. Analyze the style and structure. In many ways, blurbs are similar to the trailers for movies: “In a world of indifference, a group of telepaths rises to change society, etc.” You know the rest.
Think of a well-crafted blurb as a three-act play. The first act introduces the main character(s) and the basic conflict.
The second act shows how the conflict rises and puts the protagonist in a situation of physical or emotional danger. The stakes get higher.
The third act of a blurb is unlike the third act of a play or movie. Instead of showing the resolution of the conflict and wrapping up loose ends, the blurb usually poses a question or several questions: Will the hero save his beloved from the evil henchmen of the king? Will Frodo succeed in delivering the Ring back to its place of creation? Will Luke Skywalker save Han Solo from the clutches of Darth Vader? Get the idea? You don’t want to tell the ending.
The point is to create a hook that makes the agent want to look at the sample pages. Then it’s all about your writing. Your sample pages either entice the agent to ask for the full ms. or you get the form letter telling you how the agent can’t really get excited, but it’s a subjective industry and other agents may make a better connection to the material. In other words, “I thought it sucked.”
Realize that sample pages usually don’t get read. The reason? The blurb fails to entice the agent to take a look.
Remember the basic motto of sales: “You sell the sizzle, not the steak.” A good blurb creates the sizzle.
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