The Making Of The Blurb for Ocean Heart

I enjoyed creating my blurb. It’s the little short enticing summary that goes on the back cover of a printed book.

Over the years I’ve tweaked it but now I’m self publishing it was important to get feedback from others.

This post is going to share with you my original blurb through to the final version. I hope you find the feedback useful for writing any blurb.

ORIGINAL

Tag line:  

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to “It’s complicated!”

Blurb:

One kiss is all it took to wake Mariah’s weather manipulation powers.

Mariah is crushing on her best friend, rivalling with the swim team star and her guardian Gwyn is meddling in her life using magic.  Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid with dangerous powers. 

When your love life’s a mess and your deadly powers are connected to your emotions, it gives a new meaning to “It’s complicated.”

ELEXIS VERSION 

The first offer help was author Elexis Bell. She has published several novels, and various genres.

Okiedoke. If it’s at the end, I might leave mermaid out of the blurb. But that’s just me. Also, I love the play on words with being a mermaid bringing new depth to it’s complicated. I only dropped it from the blurb because it’s already going to be on the front of the book.

Here’s what I came up with. If you don’t like it (or only like parts of it), no worries. 😊

Blurb:

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

When a single kiss reveals Mariah’s true form, she learns that mixing a messy love life with deadly powers fuelled by emotion might be more than she bargained for.

AMENDED VERSION 1

Blurb:  

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers might be more than she bargained for.

OR

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is an imminent disaster waiting to happen.  

OR

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is just the start of a brewing storm of trouble.  

Then I received feedback from Marketing Genius Michelle Raab, and Romantic Suspense author Cassidy Reyne, and Editor and Epic Fantasy author Kara S Weaver.

MICHELLE’S SUGGESTIONS

More than she could have imagined … ?

CASSIDY SUGGESTIONS 

…can cause/create/whip up a storm of trouble?

KARA’S SUGGESTIONS 

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team’s star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple. Throw her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets in the mix, ordinary comes close, but all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later and it is then Mariah discovers she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers is just the start of a brewing storm. Will Mariah be able to contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Will Mariah be able to contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

KARA FEEDBACK 

There’s a lot of will going on in the last sentence….

Can Mariah contain it, or will she be… that might help some

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Especially with her guardian, Gwyn, using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

Then Contemporary Fantasy author J D Groom offered some suggestions…

JODIE’S COMMENT

I like it! I’m not sure about the middle paragraph though 🤔

Something about starting with ‘especially’ doesn’t sit right.

Maybe something like, ‘Added to that her guardian, Gwyn, is using magic to keep secrets…’ etc

AMENDED VERSION

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.

Blurb: 

With a crush on her best friend and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Added to that, her guardian, Gwyn is using magic to keep secrets. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

Then, I noticed during the edits I’d lost a speech mark. I was also running every edit past my hubby and his best mate Dale to get their feedback too. It was done & I sent it to my cover designer…

Except, my Cover Designer (Original Book Cover Designs) had feedback for me too. I was not done.

She had a whole formula to share with me and examples of where it had been done well to illustrate what she meant. She really had gone above and beyond what I’d commissioned her for. But, it’s too long for this post & I didn’t seek her permission to share her secrets. But, it meant more editing…


AMENDED VERSION 

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.’

Blurb: 

Mariah is a regular highschool teen, or that’s what she thinks.  With a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, Mariah’s life is anything but simple.

Added to that, her guardian is using magic to keep Mariah safe from a probable future of reapers coming for a soul, or merblood being spilt by a vengeful werewolf. But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later.

Mariah’s about to discover she’s anything but ordinary. Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

A gripping story about a mermaid, first love, and self acceptance. Join Mariah as she awakens!

As it had been edited I sought more feedback. Cassidy, Kara and Richenda were able to give me pointers.

AMENDED VERSION 2 

Tag:

Being a mermaid brings a new depth to ‘it’s complicated.’

Blurb: 

Highschool teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple.  With a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early.  

Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic attempting to keep her safe from the soul reapers, and a werewolf hunting merblood.  But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later. Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid! 

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

An exciting coming of age story about a mermaid and romance that literally sparks.  

FEEDBACK FROM KARA

Blurb: 

Highschool teen Mariah’s life is anything but simple.  Between a crush on her best friend, and a rivalry brewing with the swim team star, her powers awaken early.  

Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic attempting to keep her safe from the soul reapers, and a werewolf hunting merblood. (This is an odd sentence. You kinda want a ‘When a…. , she …’ structure to build up tension. Like: When Mariah’s guardian meddles in her life with magic to keep her safe from the soul reapers and a merblood hunting werewolf, she learns there’s more to this world he is not willing to share). But all secrets wash ashore, sooner or later (, and she’s about to discovers hers!). Mariah is about to discover she’s a mermaid! 

Mixing a messy love life with deadly powers will whip up a storm of trouble.  Can Mariah contain it or will she be swept up in its wake?

A gripping story about a mermaid, self acceptance, and romance that literally sparks.

Hi Allison,

Sorry, I had a look at your blurb and I thought it could use a bit of tightening to amp up the tension in the text. Sorry if I’m too forward, I just want to help.

Kara also spotted during the edits that an apostrophe had been lost.

FINAL VERSION:  

I thought I was finally done and sent it off to my cover designer again. Then, I spotted that ‘high school’ didn’t have a space. 😂

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Behind the Character: Mariah

Swoon Reads

Why you need a developmental editor!

http://allyaldridge.com/books/ocean-heart/

Seven tips for querying agents

So, you’ve written your masterpiece and created a shortlist of potential agents.  Now, it is time to start querying.

What not to do

In this article I am going to encourage you to create a template cover letter with common content themes, however, do not send this template to agents.  Sending a blanket email will not impress.

What you must do

Take time to make it personal

First, make sure you have time for each agent.  Do not rush your query.  Read their requirements and personalize the template to show them that you choose them for a reason.  This will make them feel more special than if you ignore their guidelines and send them flowers and chocolates.

Query IG.png

Common themes

I’ve been querying one of two agents a week.  This enables me to think about what I am sending them.  I am focused on that agent as an individual rather than as another query.

However, although requirements differ between agencies there are common themes in the content requests.  I have created a ‘cover letter ideas’ document with headings for the different content requests.  This helps me find the paragraphs I need for the agency and then amend to personalize it for them, saving me a lot of time.

Here are the themes:

Letter opening

Okay, no agent has requested this as content in the letter but it is a basic requirement for letter writing.  I just state the reason I am contacting them ‘please represent me’.

Tagline

In the age of social media, more agents are requesting you to pitch your novel in one sentence!  You can use your tagline to promote your book on sites like Twitter or Instagram.

About me

Finding an agent is a bit like dating.  They want to know a bit about you to see if you are someone they want to work with.  They are interested in what makes you-you.

Writing Bio

This is a paragraph or two about my writing experience.  They want to know if you have ever been published, won a literary contest, completed a writing course.

About your novel

To start with they need to know the basic credentials of your book like the word count and genre.

They also want to know things such as why you wrote this novel and what is it about.

Brief pitch (Blurb)

Check what they mean but this as one agent said ‘brief pitch’ and when I read what they wanted it some described a short synopsis (see below).  More agents who requested a brief pitch wanted me to sell them my story so I shared my blurb as I type of teaser to encourage them to want to read the manuscript.

One paragraph synopsis

They want you to sell the story to them and the plot in one paragraph – if you thought writing a synopsis was hard then you are going to enjoy this… Actually, I found this easier than condensing the whole plot to one page because I knew they had the full synopsis to read if they wanted so I just had to make it enticing enough for them to want to know more.

Book marketing

They may request who you think the target market is and what books it would be placed alongside in a bookshop.  They need to know if the book is part of a series or have the potential to be.

Why you?

Some agents wished to know why I had chosen them.  You can’t default this content as will be a unique element of the query for that individual or agency.  Instead, I created some prompts:

  • why did they make my shortlist
  • what authors or titles have they been involved with that is similar to mine

Letter closing

This is a simple ‘look forward to hearing from you’ together with my valediction and contact details.

Check before you send

Before you send your query to make sure it is as perfect as you can make it before you send it:

  • Spell check:  There are no excuses with modern processors that will check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Proofread:  Sometimes the spell checker will miss words that are spelt correctly and make sense but are wrong.  For example, ‘people go to church to worship their dog’.
  • Grammarly:  There are apps to help check that your writing is as at it’s best.  A quick scan online using Grammarly can find mistakes you otherwise could have missed.

Contact method

Many agencies today will request you send them an email or use an online form on their site.  Make sure you follow the instructions for the format of documents correctly.  For example:

  • If they request, all attachments must be .doc files, make sure you ‘save as’ and chose the correct file format.
  • If they ask you to send it within the body of the email then copy and paste the content into an email.
  • If you must paste into the online form or attach the document to their online form, please follow the instructions.

If you don’t follow the instructions, they may not be able to open your documents, it may get blocked by virus protection or their server.  If you cannot view what you have sent, then you’ve wasted your time as well as theirs.

Common attachments

Preparing these common attachments before you start will save you time.

Query manuscript versions

I have a few versions of my manuscript prepared for querying to meet the most common requests.  These are:

  • Full manuscript
  • First three chapters
  • First 10,000 words (to a suitable breaking point)

Query synopsis versions

I have a few versions of my synopsis prepared for querying to meet the most common requests.  These are:

  • Full synopsis
  • One page synopsis
  • 300-word synopsis

 

Keep a spreadsheet

You can get free online spreadsheet software from Google or Window Live and many smartphones even had free spreadsheet apps.

I keep a spreadsheet with the name of the agency and agent I contacted, the date I contacted them and when I expected to hear back – check their sites for details on response times.  When they responded I recorded the date they replied.

I hope you have found these tips useful. I would love to hear how you got on and if you have any tips to help me too.  

Ally plus text