Blog, How to Indie Publish, Uncategorized

Week 15: Drafting Your Book Blurb

After you’ve spent months churning out a novel, the thought of condensing it down into a few short paragraphs for the back of your book may feel a little bit daunting. But you can actually create a quick draft of your book blurb relatively early in the publishing process. There are just a few things you’ll need.

What you’ll need:

  1. Main Characters
  2. Setting
  3. The first few chapters.
  4. A tease for the future.

So, in theory, you can really write your first book blurb after you’ve completed solid drafts of the first few chapters. (Especially if you already have a solid outline or beat sheet in place.) In fact, writing your book blurb may even help you if you’re struggling to finish your novel. Reminding yourself what you’re promising to your readers makes a great refresher to reorient you toward the novel’s main goals.

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through:

  1. A “Road Map for Book Blurbs” that includes samples from my first novel, Pieces of Pink, and its sequel (my current W.I.P.) Prisons of Purple. Please note, because the cover hasn’t been finalized yet, the blurb for Prisons of Purple isn’t quite set in stone, but it’s close!
  2. A side-by-side look at the two blurbs.
  3. The drafting process for the Prisons of Purple blurb.
  4. And in true drafting spirit, I’ll include the final version of my book blurb (which ended up being very different from the draft) at the end of the post.

Now, let’s get into the draft!

A Road Map for Book Blurbs

Who and what are we dealing with?

Book 1: Pieces of Pink

Grey Alcott kneels before the executioner in a pool of her husband’s blood.

(WIP) Book 2: Prisons of Purple

Imprisoned in the wake of the uprising, Grey Alcott must face the cost of survival as she and her cellmate — Roz — plan their escape.

Expand: What are the characters doing and/or why are they here?

Book 1: Pieces of Pink

Having broken the Color Code to marry outside of her caste, Grey has become a fugitive, and the penalty is death.

(WIP) Book 2: Prisons of Purple

Together, the incarcerated Pinkcaps struggle against the odds and the tyrannical command of the prison’s warden.

What’s the sliver of light?

Book 1: Pieces of Pink

But when a figure from her husband’s past discovers her situation, a twist of fate finds Grey pardoned.

(WIP) Book 2: Prisons of Purple

But when a coded message finds its way into their cellblock, the women realize that the promise of freedom may be closer than they think.

Why does it matter?

Book 1: Pieces of Pink

Instead of facing execution, she is conscripted into the lowest caste of her society, where she is condemned to live out the rest of her life as a Pinkcap, a prostitute of Citoyen.

(WIP) Book 2: Prisons of Purple

*Hidden in the flooded tunnels of an abandoned metro system, Jax trades the last of Grey’s medical supplies for information on his missing friends. After convincing a small group of Pieces to join him, Jax devises a plan to neutralize the prison’s defenses and free the Pinkcaps. 

*Note: This section is a little different for book 2, because while the book is still written in a past tense, third person, omniscient point of view, chapters alternate between Grey and Jax. So, for this book blurb, I felt it was necessary to incorporate the idea of two co-dependent plot lines.

Wrap-Up: The Choice or an Uh-oh!

Book 1: Pieces of Pink

(The Choice)

Relocated to a brothel in the heart of the capital, Grey is confronted with a choice: flee the country, or stay and dismantle the system that destroyed her life.

(WIP) Book 2: Prisons of Purple

(The Uh-oh!)

But his rescue attempt may prove far more disastrous than anyone can predict.

Now, let’s look at them side-by-side!

The Color Code Series (Book 1) Pieces of Pink

Grey Alcott kneels before the executioner in a pool of her husband’s blood. Having broken the Color Code to marry outside of her caste, Grey has become a fugitive, and the penalty is death. But when a figure from her husband’s past discovers her situation, a twist of fate finds Grey pardoned.

Instead of facing execution, she is conscripted into the lowest caste of her society, where she is condemned to live out the rest of her life as a Pinkcap, a prostitute of Citoyen.

Relocated to a brothel in the heart of the capital, Grey is confronted with a choice: flee the country, or stay and dismantle the system that destroyed her life.

The Color Code Series (Book 2) Prisons of Purple

Imprisoned in the wake of the uprising, Grey Alcott must face the cost of survival as she and her cellmate–Roz–plan their escape. Together, the incarcerated Pinkcaps struggle against the odds and the tyrannical command of the prison’s warden. But when a coded message finds its way into their cellblock, the women realize that the promise of freedom may be closer than they think.

Hidden in the flooded tunnels of an abandoned metro system, Jax trades the last of Grey’s medical supplies for information on his missing friends. After convincing a small group of Pieces to join him, Jax devises a plan to neutralize the prison’s defenses and free the Pinkcaps. But his rescue attempt may prove far more disastrous than anyone can predict.

What do we notice?

By comparing them side-by-side, we can see that both book blurbs are roughly the same length and that they contain similar content. However, we can also tell that the formatting is a little different. The main reason for the shift from three paragraphs to two stems from the idea that there are now two main characters — focused on equally throughout the novel — who’s independent storylines come together to create the full experience.

My Blurb Drafting Process: Prisons of Purple

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to give you a peak at my drafting process for my current W.I.P. book blurb, so you can have a little insight into my process. So, here it is!

The first draft is in the top left-hand block, and the most recent is in the top right. Phrases highlighted in blue are things that my beta reader really liked, and phrases in red are things that either didn’t make sense with the plot of the story, were too spoiler-y, or simply weren’t important enough to be worth mentioning. And honestly, I can’t remember what green stood for. That’ll happen sometimes.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that I’ve written the blurb in an Excel chart. As inconvenient as it is to write in Excel, the reason I do this is so that when I’m registering ISBN numbers, bar codes, and more (later down the road) I have all of my cover and marketing information in a centrally located place, separate from the text of the novel itself.

Additionally, I find that writing in such a weird processor allows me to write down all of the crazy sentences that pop into my head, so that I can harvest snippets from them for the final draft! But post-it notes or index cards could work equally well (if you prefer drafting by hand).

Final Book Blurb for Prisons of Purple

Divided in the aftermath of their failed uprising, the Pinkcaps struggle for survival. Some hide in the forgotten railway tunnels of the capital city, others flee to the Pinelands, and the rest await execution in the prisons of Citoyen.

Captured by Blackcaps, Grey and Roz must face the consequences of the rebellion while struggling to plan their escape. Meanwhile, Jax guides refugees to the nearest safe houses, trading valuable supplies for news of his missing friends. And along the secret escape routes, a mysterious fugitive searches for Lock.

Will Grey and her friends reunite and rise up against the Whitecaps? Or will they be erased from the Color Code forever?

Ultimately, the formula for creating a book blurb that works for your story falls on your shoulders, but I hope that showing you my own process might provide some clarity or a convenient jumping point for your own project!

And of course, as with all writerly things, the best way to get a feel for what you should be doing is to read, read, read! Find other books in your genre, flip them over, and see what’s standard and what’s not. Understanding the expectations of your audience is key, and by taking the time to consider other works, you’ll have much better luck creating a professional and appealing design for your novel.

Good luck with the all of your writing endeavors, and thanks for stopping by!

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