Writer's Wednesday: Is a blurb part of the story?

 In my review of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, I noted that I started listening without reading (or re-reading, given how long I'd had the book on hold at the library) the blurb. The way that affected my reading experience made me realize that our blurbs aren't just important for marketing--they are actually part of how most people read our books. That understanding has me working on a better sense of what and how to write the blurbs (book-jacket summary) to improve not just the likelihood that the person looking at it will buy the book, but also their experience of reading the book.

Of course, all the holiday stuff distracted me from this question, so it's taken me until now to write this post, and precious little thinking has taken place. But here are the things I think I get from reading a blurb:

  • The main character's name and something about him/her--life circumstances, if not personality.
  • Setting. I presumably know genre in the broadest sense, at least, but the blurb will tell me if the SF story takes place on a far-flung planet or a future earth, or the mystery is set in New York City or a small town in Maine.
  • The main conflict of the story.
  • Some sense of the goal.

Diving into a story without knowing any of that isn't a bad thing--but it made me feel like it took extra time to get my footing. On the other hand: maybe I was experiencing the unfolding of the story the way the author intended? 

Ultimately, though, I think that the blurb starts the reader off with a certain sense of being invested in the character(s) even before starting to read. And that has to be a good thing, from a writer's perspective, because it increases the odds that the reader will keep going.

 What do you think? Do you read the blurbs or back-cover copy before you start a book? How do you think that changes your reading experience--and what do you think is most important to find there? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Oh, and don't forget to check out my books at the Smashwords End of Year Sale! Rebecca's Smashwords Page.

Oops--looks like time to update the "all covers" image, too!

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