From first word to final publication (Part 5)
The story is always the most important thing, but the packaging is important, too. After the front cover, the most essential part of that would have to be the book description – the title and cover only create an impression, but the blurb is really how you decide whether you’re interested in a story or not.
The description appears in several places, notably in book catalogs, the online pages for a book and either the back cover or the inside flap of the book itself. It may be a single paragraph long or several. And it can be the same everywhere or vary from place to place, but its purpose is always the same – to make you want to read the book.
That means it can’t be just a dry explanation of what the story is about. It has to be compelling, to grab your attention and hook your interest – it has to be dramatic and interesting in itself.
At the same time, it’s vital that it doesn’t oversell or misrepresent the book. Why? One reason is because it creates an expectation – and if that goes unfulfilled, you won’t be satisfied (which is bad in and of itself) and you likely won’t be interested in reading further books (which would be a tragedy.)
Also, the dual purpose of the book description is to attract those of you who’ll enjoy the story, while at the same time making it clear to those of you who wouldn’t that the book isn’t for you. So it not only has a tough job, but a fine balancing act to do. And because I’m publishing my own books independently, I have an additional desire that’s not usually shared by traditional publishers’ marketing departments – not giving away too much of the story.
That’s it, really, for the main components of an individual book – the story and its packaging. But there’s another, almost invisible dimension to publishing books – a number of details that can be summed up in one little phrase. The Brand.