10 Blurb Elements that Work for Me

I was reading a Carina Press blurb–or, excuse me, the back cover copy–when I experienced a burning desire to read the book. And that inspired a post about blurbs that work for me.

If these elements are in the blurb, it’s pretty much an auto-buy for me.

Warrior Women. I even bought a nonfiction book once called Warrior Women. It was all about various fierce women in history, mostly vicious backstabbers and poisoners, but with a fair share of actual warriors. You put a woman with a sword on the cover and I’m half-sold already. I have not read any warrior women books lately. Any recs? (Other than urban fantasies?)

Ancient Historical Setting. Doesn’t matter the culture. If it’s BC, I’m all over it. I’m dying to read a book about the ancient Phoenicians. One book I have on my nook is Stephanie Draven’s Lily of the Nile.

The Word “Epic”. Epic fantasy, epic historicals, epicย  family sagas–they all work for me. My current favorite epic is David Anthony Durham’s Acacia series.

Secrets. Hint at a secret in the blurb and right then and there, I experience a burning desire to know what that secret is. The book I was looking at over at Carina Press was of this sort, but there are actually two on the front page right now, River Time by Rae Renzi and Dangerous Secrets by Katie Reus. Dangerous Secrets also has the added allure of a Character in Disguise (see below).

Clash of Cultures. Whether it’s a time travel romance or Shogun, I love clashes of cultures. Or at least, I like reading about them. Especially when a romance is involved.

Here are some auto-buys, with caveats:

Dystopian. Not quite an auto-buy if I feel it’s going to be too gritty. But I just love near-future dystopian novels. But near-past is good as well. My perennial favorite is Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank.

Mythology. I enjoy reading about made-up mythologies and interactions between deities and humans. I don’t really like reading about actual mythologies. I like to be able to fully suspend disbelief and if its an actual belief system I have a little trouble. Dare I mention Dragonlance as my favorite example? Holly Lisle’s Hawkspar is also good.

Recent Historical Setting. I love stories that take place in the 20s through the 50s. Really, I like any period, but recent historical periods are of especial interest for me at present. Jacqueline Winspear writes an excellent mystery series set in the 30s, and it begins with Maisie Dobbs.

Characters in Disguise. This goes along with secrets. If the blurb mentions someone who is hiding their identity for any reason from superhero identity to hiding from the Mob, I’m all over it. I’m overdue for a novel of this sort.

Vastly Different Cultures. I’d love to read a romance that takes place in India right now. With Indian characters. Preferably by an Indian author. Any recommendations?

What blurb elements work for you?

11 Thoughts to “10 Blurb Elements that Work for Me”

  1. Now the secrets thing doesn’t work for me. That element always makes me uncomfortable.

    I like interesting settings, friends-to-lovers, reunions, certain time periods. Boring, I know ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Really? Interesting how different people respond to different things. And no, your list isn’t boring!

  2. Chicory

    The words `fairy-tale retelling’ always perks my interest. Mystery elements will grab my attention, and a mystery/fantasy is always worth checking out. A strong focus on family relationships or a team of friends is great, but I that’s usually the sort of thing you discover by reading the book, not the blurb.

    1. I like all of the above. And I don’t think there are enough fantasy mysteries!

  3. Different cultures, fairy tale retellings, love that bridges class, culture or dark pasts, science fantasy elements, a new twist on an old concept…

  4. Jessica

    A new one to look for is Invasion book one, by Mercedes Lackey (and several other people). It is both an alternate history where humans began to develop superhuman powers in the 1930’s and became known as metahumans, and a near future SF as it is set in the 21st century when Nazis in armor start popping up wreaking havoc around the world. Several good warrior style heroines, including Bella Blue, paramedic and healer. It comes out from Baen this spring.

  5. “Epic” and “dystopian” tend to warn me off. I’m with Chicory on fairy tale retellings.

    I’m even more in agreement with her on Family Fantasy and Family Scince Fiction, as my Dad and I have taken to calling family oriented stories in those genres. {Smile} I’ve noticed the same problem about blurbs not cluing you into the importance of family relationships. I recently tried asking a group of friends for recommendations for those. Now I need to try their recommendations, to see if that improves my chances of finding what I want. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  6. Carina Press did an FB blurb about Susanna Ives’ Rakes&Radishes – I joked about how over the top it was and Susanna responded that it was actually an excerpt from a gothic novel the heroine was reading – I loved that she took the time to respond; and how much fun to write that into your novel? You get to have all the fun of writing purple prose without letting your actual story suffer. It’s like playing the role of a bad actress. You get to indulge in all the horrible over-emoting, over-gesturing you want ๐Ÿ˜‰

    So I guess, heroines that like to read hook me – if I read something about a heroine in a blurb that calls out to a similar personality trait in me, I’m interested. Is that a tad narcissistic? Maybe. But I’m honest. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I also am hooked when I read a blurb about a hero with a serious flaw – like most of Kinsale’s books, something he has to struggle against.
    And I fully admit to loving time-travel blurbs with fish-out-of-water hunky warriors freaking out at cars and t.v. and electricity. In general, capable manly men out of their element and needing a woman’s help appeals to me ๐Ÿ™‚
    Aldo love it when an author uses great literary quotes in a clever way and it weaves into the story well (not dropped like bizarre bombs to help add credence).

    1. Tia Nevitt

      I think that’s just identifying with the heroine, not being narcissistic. And fish-out-of-water stories really work for me, time travel especially.

  7. […] 24th, 2011  Posted by Ruth ArnellOur long time friend and former reviewer Tia wrote a post on her blog a week ago about what blurb elements inspire her to pick up a book.ย  Warrior Women, ancient […]

  8. […] Women. I mentioned this in my post, 10 Blurb Elements that Work For Me, so I won’t go into detail […]

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