This takes us to the final blurb– the Query/Highlight blurb. Why do I have this one last? For me, this is one of the hardest to write because it’s shorter than the back cover blurb yet is the one I use most often when I query publishers, agents, etc. For this blurb, I try to keep it to one paragraph or two at the most–keeping the opening and if possible, the ending sentences from my Back Cover Blurb. I go through the rest my other blurb, removing detailed information and replacing it with generalized overviews.
The goal with the query/highlight blurb is to get attention and make them want to hear more about the story. Often times you’ll see this blurb in a magazine, front page of an e-publisher’s website, etc. It’s a short 4-6 sentence paragraph that gives you more than the High Concept but less than the Back Cover.
Normally when crafting the query blurb, I’m trying to create a quick thirty second commercial that not only titillates the senses, but showcases the core theme of the story. A good example is the query blurb for Mark of the Blood, my first Marauder book. Example– Wrongly cursed by their patron goddess, Morrigu, nine Druid brothers fight the forces of evil for eternity. Worlds collide as Kirstie Blake and Marauder Dr. Niam Maraigh hunt a rapist and succumb to the Mark of the Blood.
Notice that it not only gives you an overview of not just the series, but it touches upon how this story helps reinforce the core ideas of righting a wrong and finding true love? The goal of the query blurb is to make the person want to read the full story itself because you’ve gotten them intrigued with the story concept. For my book, Mark of the Blood, it will entice readers to either my website or my publisher’s so they can read the full back cover blurb and an excerpt from the book. Each blurb builds upon the other, increasing curiosity and the desire to buy the book. That’s the ultimate goal.
So, how do you these blurbs work together when it comes to writing, selling, and promoting the book?
Someone asks you about the story you’re currently working on. You might say, “It’s Underworld meets Merry Gentry.” This is actually the high concept I use for Treaty of Desire. There is more to the story than that, but in essence–it gets the point across. Now you’ve got someone saying, “Tell me more. What do you mean? How is it like Underworld? Does your story deal with the fey?” This is where you’d break out the query blurb.
“Taja Drevin, a Were-subqueen must learn the ways of the Seelie Fey in exchange for teaching the greatest mage among them how to access the glamour magick the Fey lost for closing the mortal world from Helia, the world all preternatural creatures live. Neither Taja, nor the mage, the heir Adrastai are prepared for the attraction that springs between them. But all is not well during this teaching–someone wants the treaty between the Weres and the Feys broken and they’re willing to kill Taja to do just that. Can Taja and Adras discover who is behind the assassination attempts or will the Treaty of Desire be broken thus destroying any hopes of their world surviving mankind rediscovering them when the Gateway opens between the two worlds?”
Notice that now you’ve given them just enough to tease their attention and whet their appetite without giving out too much detail? My back cover blurb is slightly longer. I included about Frelin, Adrastai’s brother who is a major pain to Taja as well as the fact that both Adras and Taja are hiding secrets from the other which ups the conflict when they become lovers. The progression of each blurb helps to not only give snippets of info, but like movie trailers of thirty, forty-five, and sixty seconds–they let you see more aspects of the story without giving away the ending.
Even though people know romance novels will have a Happily Ever After, they still like discovering how they get to that point. It’s the journey that people enjoy the most–take that away, and then a reader won’t bother with your story. But if you hint, tease, and make them wonder how it can be done–they’ll pick up your book before they do anyone else’s.
Now that you’ve written the blurbs, you’ve got the basic blueprint to plotting your story. That’s right- you’ve given yourself the beginning framework to your story.
Now it’s time to flesh out some of the details so they’re not forgotten. It’s time to plot your story! We'll start that on Monday.
Assignment: Create a Query/Highlight Blurb and share it.