What Is Your Book About?

Recently, I read a book’s blurb that all it told was she’d returned to her hometown, she’d changed (I suspected she was outgoing when she was young and now wasn’t – that was an assumption from the vague blurb), and the handsome guy had noticed her. That’s it.

What did the guy do for a living that might be important to the story? Were they high school friends, lovers, or enemies? Besides being good looking, is there something more about him to draw the reader’s interest? Habits, hobbies? The author didn’t have to add all of that, but some little something more that tells us about the male lead besides how he looked.

Nothing was said that would draw me in to read it, unless returning to a hometown is one of my favorite tropes. It’s not really. So it didn’t. Have you noticed more and more books lately have blurbs like this. A bunch of nothing about the plot. Just emotions that aren’t really deep.

When you write your blurb, ask another author who you trust to read it. Remember each main character (MC) needs a trope. In other words, you need at least a hook per main character that will interest the reader. Your blurb (each MC) should have a GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict). That doesn’t mean to give the ending away. Each MC will have a Goal in the beginning that will most likely change before the ending. That’s often how the characters show growth.

Of course, the MCs need emotional goals too. So let me break it down for you. Just remember, you’re not telling the whole story, but having the GMC spelled out helps you write the blurb with a mixture of the plot and emotion.

Goal: MC wants?

Motivation: Because?

Conflict: But?

Here’s my book Jake’s GMC.

  • Angel’s Goal: She wants out of the criminal world and to discover the person/people who murdered her grandfather.
  • Jake’s Goal: He wants to leave the life his father forced on him, yet determined to do away with the person/people who killed his father and stop the organization trying to overtake his county.
  • Angel’s Motivation: Because she knows it’s the only way to protect her younger brother.
  • Jake’s Motivation: Because if he and his brothers continue in their father’s footsteps, they would be dead too.
  • Angel’s Conflict: But her grandfather wrote a codicil requiring her to marry a despised Whitfield, though she doesn’t really hate Jake. She’s been in love with him since a sexy incidence in high school.
  • Jake’s Conflict: But his father wrote a codicil requiring him to marry a crazy Tally, though he cannot forget how attracted to her he’d been since that one scene in high school.

Funny, how these two people have so much in common and family history has kept them apart. They are destined to be together, right?

Here’s the blurb.

Forget the Hatfields and McCoys, in a small Southern town, the Whitfields and Tallys are the real family feud. So for some unholy reason, Jake Whitfield’s old man and Angel Tally’s grandfather wrote codicils to their wills the night before they died in a suspicious fire. The codicils require Jake and Angel to marry or lose their inheritances.

Jake feels like a man with two faces. One he presents to his brothers and the public: the criminal willing to step on anyone for a buck while mercilessly protecting the business. The other: the lonely man wanting a better life for himself and his family and working with an FBI agent to make it happen.

To Jake, marrying Angel makes sense. With her family’s help, he can fight the new criminal organization that’s moving into his town. Immersed in the criminal world, there is no hope for Angel, but her brother is still young. She will do anything to protect him from that way of life and whoever killed their grandfather, even marry a despised Whitfield. And Angel never forgot about the sexy incident with Jake in high school ten years earlier. And if she has to go along with a Whitfield-Tally marriage, she wants a replay.

As you see, you basically take the WANT-BECAUSE-BUT and then you smooth out the information into two or three paragraphs.

The Tropes above are Forced Marriage that turned into Marriage of Convenience, Criminal Hero (in this book Heroine is too), Enemies to Lovers/Forbidden Love, First Love (her), Partners in Crime, and Revenge. Whoa! This was packed with tropes.

Remember, vague will not sell books.

Let’s Talk Blurbs

Lately, I’ve been thinking about blurbs. You know, the kind on the back of books (or on bookseller sites) and the kind needed for BookBub and ads that don’t want it to be so wordy. It’s important to draw a reader’s attention.

I can’t say I’m great at them, but heck, I see some pretty sad ones. This one I came across in an ad and thought it needed help. I bet the book is awesome, but someone needs to work on the author’s blurbs. Of course, there could be people who would think the same about mine. Anyway, this is my blog and my opinion. HA! You will note I did not leave in character names and I don’t say who the author is. This is not to embarrass the person, just to help other authors who might come across this post.

“When a hit man targets [heroine’s name], gorgeous cop [hero’s name] comes to her defense. But the more time he spends with her, the more irresistible she becomes!”

There were several things I would change and I’m sure more to do with personal preference. What bothered me the most was the word “BUT.” BUT is used to contrast a prior phrase or clause per the dictionary on my computer. What is being contrasted? If the short blurb said, “cop comes to his enemy’s defense” or something like that, I could understand the BUT.

I also want to know why “gorgeous cop?” What does gorgeous have to do with the plot? And really, most of the heroes in romances are gorgeous, even if it just the heroine feeling that way.

By the way, when writing a longer blurb, remember to keep to the basics of what will pull in the reader. Telling a lot of backstory or explaining the whole book will not work. Think of what are the hero/heroine’s goal, motivation, and conflict (GMC)? You can use the following to help fill in those points: want, because, but. Here’s an example from Darynda Jones’s First Grave on the Right. The GMC is pointed out in brackets [ ]. Note that she has actually two conflicts [buts].

“Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. [WANT] And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” [BUT] But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), [BECAUSE] sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. [BUT] Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.”

She/publisher did pretty good, heh? Short and hits a lot of hot spots for readers. I hope this helps when you plan to write your next blurb.