Jerks & Irks XLIX: Your Boring, Blabbering Book Blurb

Too, many times…I mean, FAR too many times…I am grabbed by a book cover on Amazon, only to read the blurb and have it begin with some clichéd mess that I have read a million times. Why? For the love of warm blanketed bundles of babies, WHY? Most of the time, if you cut the cliché from the book description entirely–and don’t even replace it with anything else–nothing is lost. In fact, the description is enhanced! Imagine that! A piece of writing enhanced by cutting a cliché! Oh my stars and polka dots, it’s just like writing the novel itself! (*Said in my Southern accent while sipping a sweet tea a fanning myself*)Strangely enough, it’s that correlation right there that usually makes me bypass the books with clichés in the blurb. If the author was lazy enough, or naïve enough, to overlook them there, why not the body of their novel, right?

So, I know by now you’re all biting your nails, wondering if your book blurb falls under my regulations (which, by the way, is a totally personal quirk–though there is some evidence to support I’m not the only one who feels this way, based on the last time I mentioned it). Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • “Joey Flower Farts/Suzie Kitten Kisses had a perfect life/had it all/was shined on by the Gods, until…”
  • “Manny/Mandy Mundane was just an average teenager/stock broker/vampire/discus champion…”
  • “Henry/Hannah Ho-hum is NOT like most people…” (but apparently that needs to be said out loud instead of shown, which is a giant red banner of a flag to me.)
  • “Ann/Arnie Anonymity just wanted to be normal, but s/he was forced to embrace his/her royal blood/superhuman powers/destined greatness/bewitched doll collection that s/he inherited from his/her Great Aunt Martha.
  • “A virus has destroyed…” (Honestly, this one is so overdone, that it almost doesn’t matter what follows. But sometimes an author can surprise you. Such as Robert Chazz Chute’s serial, This Plague of Days. Try that one on for size.)

So why does that happen? Is it laziness? Is it the human need to conform? Is it “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?” That’s a stupid expression, it can’t be that. Personally, I think it’s because people read books themselves and thus read blurbs. Then when they go to write their own, they imitate what they’ve seen. What has happened is years and years and years of imitation causing a flooding of clichés in book blurbs because people are more focused on doing what they see, what they think works, instead of adhering to the rules they probably learned and used for their writing. That’s right, I think they probably knew the rules when they were writing their novel. But as a reader, when it comes to purchasing their book with my money and reading their book with my precious little time, I still might pass, based on their blurb.

So blurbers beware.

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6 thoughts on “Jerks & Irks XLIX: Your Boring, Blabbering Book Blurb

  1. I’m willing to bet a lot of people went back to look at their summaries. I’ll be right back. What? I’m not going to check my summary.

    Re-write all the summaries!!

  2. When I was an in-house desk editor, it was we who wrote the blurbs, not the authors. I agree, though, it makes you wonder. My husband (a baker) has a similar reaction to ‘artisan’ as in ‘artisan bread’. He says it’s a euphemism for mis-shapen and badly cooked.

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