So not, The Next Big Thing

Many writers will already know of the ‘blog interview tour’ going the rounds called The Next Big Thing. I’ve read some great Q&As, one of which you’ll find right now at Come Home To The Country. It’s like an online literary chain letter. I don’t know where it started and I don’t know where it will end, and at some stage soon thanks to Jenn J McLeod, I, and three other lady writers, will become part of The Next Big Thing. (Yes – there is even a badge). If I find it, I’ll post it.

But what I want to write about today, is how VERY close I came to being something else entirely. Yes, although Allison Tait, Cate Ellink and Kerrie Patterson (tagged by Jenn) may never know it… Ladies, last night, we nearly became part of THE NEXT BOG THING.

All evidence is now removed. Jenn J’s typo (if typo it was – I’m tempted to think she was being sneaky to see if anyone was really listening!) is now removed. At midnight last night on Jenn’s blog, we were about to be part of The Next Bog Thing. Two minutes after midnight, we were back to being in The Next Big Thing… but I have spent some time in the small hours thinking about what might have been…

Let’s be honest. Have you seen the Q&A for The Next Big Thing? It’s not very exciting. It’s (dare I say) a bit boring. Like, child’s toy-left-out-in-the-sun-all-summer kind of dull. Jenn J’s Author Harvest questions have far more scope!

The Questions in The Next Bog Thing would be far more exciting! Just think of how you might answer this!

  1. At what point did you decide your first draft was complete and utter crap?
  2. Assuming you send your protagonist rowing up Shit Creek, how did you take away his/her paddle?
  3. How many times did you rewrite Chapter 4, before realising that you simply cannot polish a turd?
  4. Tell the truth. Have you ever taken your laptop into the toilet to work on your WIP?
  5. If you ever manage to outsell the Bible… will you think your shit doesn’t stink?

You get the point? Much more interesting!

Alas. Thanks to the wonders of blogs and their edit and ‘update’ buttons… I am not in The Next Bog Thing anymore, (how I wanted to see that badge), I am in only, The Next Big Thing and so, I shall start honing my answers!

But I do invite anyone out there who is interested in The Next Bog Thing, to leave any new questions they might think of in the comments below (I might even have to come up with a prize!)… or by all means, please join The Next Bog Thing and write your answers if you like and tag someone else… Maybe we can start a whole new BIG BOGGY THING (which one day, someone might make a scary movie about.)

In the meantime Jenn J, I love your work! Thanks for tagging me! And I look forward to reading about Kerrie, Allison and Cate! 🙂

Back cover blurbs

I mean how hard can it be to write a back cover blurb? I’ve lived with His Brand Of Beautiful and its characters for all this time, surely I can sum up what the book is about in three catchy paragraphs that will make someone want to read more? It’s just like writing a query, isn’t it? Err… no, apparently not. The query is to make an agent or a publisher want to read your book and they want to know what happens, and some of them even want to know how it ends (the cheek).

The back-cover blurb can’t tell the reader what happens… or they won’t need to read your book (See the one-third rule below). And possibly if you tell them the wrong thing, they’ll decide it isn’t for them (even if it might be perfect).

It’s simple! All the blurb lives for is to get readers to buy. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. 🙂

I found this information at: http://www.palmerhiggs.com.au/blog/back-cover-blurbs-sell-your-book

To get started you’ll need to ask yourself some questions:

Who is your book being marketed to?

Your blurb should speak to those people you imagine are most interested in the type of book you have written. A blurb for a book for teenage girls will have a different tone to one for teenage boys, for example. An overview detailing how the story will help Suzie mature into a well-rounded adult is not as enticing to a teen as a short sentence telling us Suzie will get sweet revenge on her tormenters, so keep you audience in mind as you write.

What is the most interesting aspect of your book?

Is it the characters, the location, the era, the conflict to be resolved, the plot twists, the moral dilemmas? I can understand that having immersed yourself in your book for so long you can’t see the forest for the trees, so ask a friend or partner to offer some words or phrases they think summarises your book. Create a list of synonyms for those words and circle the evocative and fresh ones.

Once you’ve done this you can start to put your blurb together. These points should help:

•  Use the one-third rule. When outlining your story, try not to reveal anything that occurs more than one-third of the way through your book. Your blurb needs to encourage reading on, not spill the beans.

•  Avoid cliches. Tired, overused phrases will not coax a reader to continue reading, so look for fresh ways to express ordinary ideas.

•  Avoid too much detail. Remember, you only have two or three paras to make your point, so don’t waste space saying Johnny had a red wagon when he was ten if it has nothing to do with the story. Any characters that do not drive the story in a major way should not be mentioned.

•  Use evocative words. A back cover blurb is your last chance to persuade someone to buy your book, so you want to make them feel emotionally involved in your story, and a clever way to do this is to use words that evoke feeling within the reader. Words like laughter, glamour and whisper, or terror, dread and shriek are better than amused, well-dressed and quiet, or scared, worried and loud. Using active rather than passive sentences will involve the reader further.

• Shoutlines. If you come up with a great sentence or phrase that encapsulates your book, use it as a shoutline (one or two lines in a larger and bolder font). Movies call them taglines and they can be very effective, for example, ‘In space no-one can hear you scream’ (Alien, 1979) and ‘See our family. And feel better about yours’ (The Simpsons Movie, 2007).

The structure of your blurb is limited by the available space, but if you use the following as a guide, you’ll be on the right track:

Short novel: 2–3 paras

Longer novel: 3–4 paras

1st para — Introduce characters and give basic plot outline.

2nd para — More detailed plot outline (what is the conflict/dilemma/challenge of the characters).

3rd para — Can be effective to have questions here, such as will Suzie be humiliated or triumph?

Keep your audience in mind, be concise and evocative.

There is no strict formula to writing a good blurb, but time must be taken to ensure your book is presented at its best to potential buyers. Hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful and we encourage you take a look at your own bookshelf and on the internet to get more ideas (search terms such as ‘back cover blurb’, ‘writing a book blurb, ‘shoutlines’, ‘passive active voice’ will get you started).

Good luck.

Good luck indeed! Here’s what I came up with. I tried a ‘shout line’. Any thoughts? Would it make you want to read His Brand Of Beautiful?

Sometimes to get a woman out of your head, you have to let her in.

When Tate Newell first met Christina Clay he had one goal in mind: tell Christina he won’t design the new brand for Clay Wines. Tell her: thanks but no thanks. So long, good night.

But Tate has always been a sucker for a damsel in distress, and when a diary mix-up leaves Christina in need of his help, it’s Tate who gets more than he bargained for.

What does a resourceful girl do when the best marketing brain in the business won’t play ball? She bluffs (badly). She cheats (a bit). And she ups the ante (by a mile). But when the stakes get too high, can anybody win?

Falling in love was never part of this branding brief.

Let’s see how many revisions this gets!