Pay Attention to Your Blurb! By Karen McCullough

karen_mccullough_2015_200I was casting around for a topic for this blog post when just this morning something arrived in my email box that said “perfect topic for blog post.”

 

I’m on the lists for several of those email newsletters that give you daily selections of free and low-cost ebooks. I read a lot and I’m always on the lookout for new authors and series that I can get into.  Those newsletters have introduced me to several authors whose works I’ve really enjoyed and whose backlist I’ve bought at full price after reading their sample.

 

But today as I was scrolling through one of the newsletters (all names and titles will be omitted here), I came across a boxed set that had an intriguing premise. It’s a series of romantic suspense stories connected by a group of investigators. That’s my catnip. Reading the initial blurb for the set, I was pretty sure this was going to sell me.

 

Then I read the description for the first book and tripped over a misspelled word, the kind that wasn’t likely to be either a typo or a possible homonym. But I forgive the occasional error and went on to the blurb for the next book. It contained a badly used word. Not a totally wrong one, but it made the sentence read oddly to anyone with an ear for language. It was the kind of usage that suggested the author didn’t have a good grasp on the nuances of word meanings. The blurb for the third book had another of those—not as egregious as the previous one, but it was the third strike. To cement my decision, a series wrap-up description included another badly used word. Done.

 

As interesting as that set of books sounded, I wouldn’t buy it based on the problems in the blurbs. I’m an author and former magazine editor myself so I’m super-sensitive to language mechanics and usage. I’ll forgive the occasional error in a story. I know all too well how easy it is to miss things. My own books all go through multiple rounds of editing and still the occasional mistake sneaks through. But I can’t forgive multiple errors in a short space like four paragraphs. It completely kills my confidence that the author can deliver a story I’ll enjoy.

 

Perhaps the books themselves are better, but I doubt it. Based on a badly written blurb, I don’t trust that this author realized she had problems and took steps to fix them. I don’t believe she hired an editor and copy editor to help her iron out her problems with language mechanics and usage. My time is too limited and the possibilities of other books too enticing to take a chance on something that shows every evidence of serious flaws.

 

The lesson here? Authors, pay attention to your blurbs. If you don’t have a good grasp on grammar and/or usage, hire an editor. Even if you do, you should still hire an editor. It’s tough to see all of your own mistakes. I spent ten years as an editor for two multi-national trade publications, and I still hire someone else to review my self-published books before they go out. The editor should review your blurb as well.

 

Get it right the first time. You may not get another chance.

 

Karen McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, an increasing horde of grandchildren, and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

 

Website: http://www.kmccullough.com

Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenMcCulloughAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kgmccullough

 

A Gift for Murder Blurb:agfm_v2_200

The Gifts and Decorative Accessories Show is a long week for the event location’s staff, and particularly for Heather McNeil. As assistant to the director of Washington, D.C.’s, Market and Commerce center, she’s point person for complaining exhibitors, missing shipments, and miscellaneous other disasters. It’s a job she takes in stride—until murder crashes the event.

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One thought on “Pay Attention to Your Blurb! By Karen McCullough

  1. radine says:

    HOORAY to you Karen for “telling it like it is.” I have exactly the same reaction to language and grammar that shoves me out of my comfort zone in any written work. (I am more likely to forgive blips in our local newspaper, but still. . . . ) Thanks for your post.

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