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Help! Blurbs… Part Deux… Questions!

AgentPete

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Thank you to everyone who came along to the NEW ART OF THE BLURB seminar on Saturday – I really enjoyed doing it, and your contributions and questions (see below) made it particularly pleasant for me to do.

It’s the first in a series of similar seminars: they will all be low-cost, high-value and aim to cover all the fundamentals that writers need to know.

I re-recorded it over the weekend and am currently turning it into a video seminar that members here will be able to access any time they want to.

I didn’t actually keep a recording of the live event, so I don’t have a note of the questions that were asked. If you attended, would you mind popping any questions arising in this thread, and I’ll add them plus my answers to the final video seminar.

Thanks!
 

Vagabond Heart

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This is one I asked, but which didn’t get aired. But tbh I think it’s less helpful to the rest of the group anyway.

I’m a very logical person, so am constantly fighting that in order to access the creative side of my brain. For this, I turn my computer screen paper blue, and then 10-20 mins later my creative side really kicks in (is a science thing I heard on radio 4).
So my question was - if you advise us to use pen and paper rather than the computer to do our blurbs, do you think I should find some blue paper, or do I need to be more logical about this anyway?

On a side note, I bloody loved the seminar. Took me right back to being at Uni, and drinking up the info I was lucky enough to get (mature student, you see. We do 2 sorts of drinking). And you’re so good at explaining things. Was great. Can’t wait for the next one.
 

RG Worsey

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This is one I asked, but which didn’t get aired. But tbh I think it’s less helpful to the rest of the group anyway.

I’m a very logical person, so am constantly fighting that in order to access the creative side of my brain.
Me too. I was once described as "on the autistic spectrum". I'm a the glass is 50% beer, 50% air type. I have never heard about the blue thing, and will read up on that.
 

Vagabond Heart

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Me too. I was once described as "on the autistic spectrum". I'm a the glass is 50% beer, 50% air type. I have never heard about the blue thing, and will read up on that.
Hey Ronny
Is blue for stimulating creative side of brain, and red for stimulating the logical side. Apparently the only two colours that actually affect us. All other colours - green is calming, red means passion/danger - are simply the norm according to whatever culture you were brought up in. We’re used to thinking of them a certain way, but they don’t actually affect us at all.
 

Hannah F

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Hey Ronny
Is blue for stimulating creative side of brain, and red for stimulating the logical side. Apparently the only two colours that actually affect us. All other colours - green is calming, red means passion/danger - are simply the norm according to whatever culture you were brought up in. We’re used to thinking of them a certain way, but they don’t actually affect us at all.
I'd like to see the science behind this. I've seen other research which says that wearing red colours (in sport) promotes confidence. I suspect every colour bears some emotional trigger which will be different for different people, depending on emotional links with that colour in the past. There is probably a level of attribution bias. If you expect blue to increase your creativity, it will.
 

Jake E

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Me too. I was once described as "on the autistic spectrum". I'm a the glass is 50% beer, 50% air type. I have never heard about the blue thing, and will read up on that.
You're in good company lol.
I'm what's know as High-Functioning, which sounds really impressive until you learn it just means I just about cope in social situations, ha.

I heard about the blue. I used to use it in my lessons when I taught Primary School. Not only does it help with creativity, but it help dyslexic children read because the words don't 'float around' like they do on a white background. If you want to see what I mean. Set the background to light blue and write in orange or red and that's pretty much what dyslexic children see.

Edit. also in bold.
 

Ed Simnett

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Q- 50 word / SmArT blurbs are great for back of book/web page etc. Should you / how should you incorporate them in a query letter? They often won't be complete sentences etc...

Aside- sadly the Amazon.com blurb for the book with the blurb you liked (child abduction) was +/- exactly the same as the boring version you improvised ;-\
 

Vagabond Heart

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I'd like to see the science behind this. I've seen other research which says that wearing red colours (in sport) promotes confidence. I suspect every colour bears some emotional trigger which will be different for different people, depending on emotional links with that colour in the past. There is probably a level of attribution bias. If you expect blue to increase your creativity, it will.
Hi Hannah,
Wish I could remember the names of the people involved in the research, but am rubbish with stuff like that. Was on Woman’s Hour, I think, on radio 4. Probably about 7 years ago now. But it wasn’t just a theory, apparently, it was actually proven. And they demonstrated it on total sceptics.
Have to admit, I was pretty sceptical too, although I thought it was interesting because I was doing a project on colour. So I followed it up.
And now I rely on it.
Sorry can’t be more help about my sources, but Auntie Google might know. Xxxx
 

Hannah F

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You're in good company lol.
I'm what's know as High-Functioning, which sounds really impressive until you learn it just means I just about cope in social situations, ha.

I heard about the blue. I used to use it in my lessons when I taught Primary School. Not only does it help with creativity, but it help dyslexic children read because the words don't 'float around' like they do on a white background. If you want to see what I mean. Set the background to light blue and write in orange or red and that's pretty much what dyslexic children see.

Edit. also in bold.
I have a dyslexic friend who needs blue paper and another who needs yellow paper and another who can only read white on black.
 

Eva Ulian

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Normally blurbs usually has some reference to the contents of the book, but it need not necessarily be so- as Wikipedia defines it:

A blurb on a book can be any combination of quotes from the work, the author, the publisher, reviews or fans, a summary of the plot, a biography of the author or simply claims about the importance of the work.

Could you discuss each of these points to a level that we poor mortals can understand it... in other words make us see how it can work using each of these methods?
 

Ancora Imparo

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Great seminar, @AgentPete. Thanks for that.

My question was that we were once told it could be worthwhile to put a quote from your ms at the top of the synopsis and I wondered what you thought about that. (Obviously, it would have to be relevant, showcase at least some talent, and be short.) Can't quite remember if that turned into a discussion about whether or not to put the blurb at the top of the synopsis instead. :) I'll listen again when you post it all up.
 

AgentPete

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Normally blurbs usually has some reference to the contents of the book, but it need not necessarily be so- as Wikipedia defines it:

A blurb on a book can be any combination of quotes from the work, the author, the publisher, reviews or fans, a summary of the plot, a biography of the author or simply claims about the importance of the work.

Could you discuss each of these points to a level that we poor mortals can understand it... in other words make us see how it can work using each of these methods?
My point about the Wiki definition, Eva, is that’s so broadly-drawn as to be useless. They’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it.

But they do mention endorsements, which is something I meant to cover but was overlooked on Saturday, will remedy that in the video (American/UK definitions of “blurb” do slightly differ in fact, US-definition leans more towards seeing the blurb as an endorsement: a bit confusing).

Endorsements aren’t in truth an integral part of the blurb itself, but they do accompany it very well, and I will be covering exactly how this works / how to get ‘em in the video.
 

Hannah F

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I have a new question. Don't know how easy it is to answer:

Spoilers in blurbs: Many we see presently use spoilers as hooks (why I often put the book aside for ages before reading - to forget the blurb), but avoiding spoilers can hide our USP. In 50 words, it's possible to avoid spoilers, but should we?
 

JohnBertel

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Very informative and inspiring. Thanks!

I get the idea of short blurbs but isn't 50 words somewhat arbitrary? Or maybe a pedagogical tool :)

Technically, Amazon must use a limit based on space rather than on word count. Some blurbs show more a lot more than 50 words, I have counted 74. Also, on the phone site, it seems that all the text in the blurb is shown without any 'Read more' option.
 

Katie-Ellen

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My point about the Wiki definition, Eva, is that’s so broadly-drawn as to be useless. They’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it.

But they do mention endorsements, which is something I meant to cover but was overlooked on Saturday, will remedy that in the video (American/UK definitions of “blurb” do slightly differ in fact, US-definition leans more towards seeing the blurb as an endorsement: a bit confusing).

Endorsements aren’t in truth an integral part of the blurb itself, but they do accompany it very well, and I will be covering exactly how this works / how to get ‘em in the video.


The hopeful unpublished writer may have no access to endorsements, or no control over endorsements, writing a blurb at submission stage. Yes, in the wider conversation once publication happens, but you didn't leave out anything writer can use in real time.
 

CageSage

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I get the idea of short blurbs but isn't 50 words somewhat arbitrary? Or maybe a pedagogical tool :)

Technically, Amazon must use a limit based on space rather than on word count. Some blurbs show more a lot more than 50 words, I have counted 74. Also, on the phone site, it seems that all the text in the blurb is shown without any 'Read more' option.
How many places are blurbs used?
I've seen/used seven different blurbs for the same book. Not because it's a different seller, but because the limits and presentations are different. For example, when advertising with BookBub, they will shorten the blurb to fit their req's if it isn't short enough. If you give them a shorter, sharper version, it's more likely to get taken as is. How much control do you want over the content of your blurb? If you want that, find out all the places it's presented, how it's presented, and how the readers/buyers use it and work toward fulfilling that.
And a tag-line for a blurb (think of it like a movie tag-line) also helps, but in some markets that won't work.
The people I've spoken to who follow an author like to see more about the book on the author's website (a longer blurb, background info, etc.), and shorter blurbs on Twitter (but whole blurbs, not a cut-off at the word limit). Other sites have similar needs - and it's about what the reader sees that fits that platform. Smashwords and Instragram would be completely different. Amazon and Google should be completely different (the selling look and feel is different - Google gives more white space, but they have the buy button on the wrong side for 'zon users). Whether by phone or PC, the user is getting a feel for the story/book. If the blurb goes on forever (on a phone, in particular), a lot of readers give up - it's too much work if it's more than a couple of screens. Yes, I've read some very long blurbs, but more often than not (and especially if there are more than one or two endorsements), I only read so far. In my mind, if the words in the blurb indicate long-windedness, then the book will, too, and that's not what I'm looking for in a book.
Maybe there's a new/old saying: Know thy market-place -- that comes before, during and after -- know thy reader.
That's my thoughts, but maybe that's just me.
 
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