Monday, January 15, 2007

Back Cover Blurbs




Do you read the back covers of books you're considering buying? Do such blurbs ever have an impact on your decision to purchase the book? Well, imagine that you were looking at a book called Swords of Talera, a fantasy novel, would the following back cover blurb have any effect on you?

SWORDS OF BLOOD AND GLORY

Talera is a world of alien warriors and dangerous beasts, a world of swift and deadly swords raised against incredible odds. For Ruenn Maclang, an Earthman mysteriously transported to Talera, this strange and violent planet is a potentially lethal puzzle. To stay alive, Ruenn must quickly learn the discipline of the sword and the bitter stench of battle. And he must uncover the secrets of Talera, a world very far from natural.

But living isn't the only thing Ruenn has to do. His brother is lost somewhere on Talera, and the woman he loves is slave to the brutal Klar. If he hopes to save them both, Ruenn Maclang will have to risk his honor and his life. He will have to become Warlord of a world, and a greater swordsman than he ever dreamed possible.

5 comments:

JR's Thumbprints said...

I not only look at the back covers of books, I also look at where each excerpt or story had previously been published. Probably not the same for the fantasy genre. If so, I'd take the same approach.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I'm with JR. I read the blurbs. I also note where a snippet of a review may have come from and whether or not a word or two are pulled out of context. For instance:

"....great." The Lansing Journal.

Now taken out of context, it sounds..well...great!!! But in context? "If Mr. Sternberg would put away his keyboard and stop writing, it would be great."

The back of the book you mention? It might give me pause, but I know that sometimes the people marketing the book sometimes do so against the author's sensibilities.

I would flip through some pages, try and glean if it was something accessible to me, and then consider it. If I had doubts,I would probably go online and read more about it. At a first glane, it would depend on the the subject matter.

Kate S said...

I always read the blurbs, and like Stewart, am highly suspicious of the partial review quotes. If I've found the book online, I try to find an excerpt to see if the writing lives up to the blurb.

In this particular case, it was really the last line that pulled me in. The first half sounded like standard fantasy, but the sentence, "He will have to become a Warlord of a world, and a greater swordsman than he ever dreamed possible", is what would have made me open it if I found it on a bookshelf. I'm sitting here trying to analyze why that line speaks to me more than the rest, but I can't tell you.

Ah, I take it back. Just reread it and understand. It's the last TWO sentences that I find the most intriguing. The first paragraph just sets up the situation. The last paragraph tells us more about the person, and for me, the characters (and their transformations) are always more than interesting than the plot.

Clifford said...

I always read jacket copy too. I hate it when the ONLY copy is a list of recommendations/reviews, with little or no information about the plot. Even worse is when the praise is for an earlier work by the author.

I don't read much fantasy, but once upon a time I read the first 3 or 4 books in John Norman's Gor series -- the first paragraph reminded me of those books. But it's the second paragraph, that lays out what's at stake, that caught my attention...maybe it would be more powerful if the two paragraphs were massaged, and the gotchas were moved to the first paragraph?

Are you working on this?

Stewart Sternberg said...

I'm with kate, I like the idea of swordbuckling. I miss swordbuckling.

I remember devouring everything by Raphael Sabatini that I could get my hands on..."Captain Blood", "Sea Hawk", "Scaramouche".

So the idea of becoming the best swordsman brings back memories. Yeah, Kate, that drew me in, too.