A good blurb is like an elephant.
1) It’s rare.
2) You know it when you see it.
3) You need to be God to get it right.
How do you create, in a few short words, something that will make the reader pick this one novel from a thousand others? My editors and I have been batting the blurb for WE back and forth for weeks now. I’ve lost count of the number of versions we’ve gone through. Even our cover artist has had a go. It was quite a good one, I thought, but it did not find favour. Since then the wise man has retreated to a distance and let us get on with it.
We know what messages we are trying to get in. We have converged on a way of doing it. We agree that the first line should be a quote from the book. We have even agreed on a punchline. We just can’t get the rest of it right. Words that resonate to me seem to do nothing for others. They in turn write stuff that seems good to them, and when I see it I tear my hair and cry ‘How can this be?’ A few nights ago I had a revelation. I woke from a dream with my heart pounding, leapt to my computer and fired off the magic words at four-thirty in the morning. ‘There,’ I thought. ‘That’s how creation happens!’
My words fell into a well of silence. Round we went again. ‘Do you like this one?’ ‘ Well, not really . . .’ The most recent offering from my editor was prefaced ‘Hopefully final!’ I read it and reached for my sideburns.
But this time I am conceding something. This time I am working on someone else’s draft, rather than expecting someone else to work on mine.
This time, we may get somewhere.