Allbooks Review December 2011 Newsletter

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Writing Great Blurbs by Mayra Calvani

A great blurb can make the difference between a customer taking out his/her wallet to buy your book or putting the book back on the shelf. Great blurbs sell books.
But what is a blurb, exactly?
A blurb is the copy on the back cover of your book. After the cover, the blurb is the first thing a customer will check when considering to buy a book. It should hook, intrigue and grab the reader right away.
“Book blurbs are eye candy to the consumer,” says publicist Penny Sansevieri, founder of Author Marketing Experts.
Not only to customers. A great blurb can help you find a publisher or an agent, too.
A few years ago, I sent dozens of query letters in my search for an agent. As you probably know, most query letters are composed of a blurb of the book (the hook), some info about the book (genre, word count, etc), and a short author bio or list of qualifications. The agents who responded said “No, thanks.” I’m not surprised. The blurb was as flat as a French crepe. One of these agents wrote to say she wasn’t particularly excited about my book, but asked if I had something else to show her. By this time I had improved my blurb and had a completely new version. I mentioned this to her and asked her to consider my edited blurb, which she did. Her response was “Well, I have to admit this is a pretty convincing blurb.” She requested the first three chapters. To make a long story short, she took me in based on the strength of those three chapters. In this case, my blurb was the key factor in getting the agent’s attention.
This is the blurb I first included in my query letter:
Can a good man be persuaded into committing murder and still retain his goodness?
Lullaby is about the restless soul of an aborted infant who, in order to become powerful enough to be reborn, must tempt humans into committing evil acts. Having temporarily acquired the form of a beautiful woman, this being plays mind games with the protagonist, bringing back memories of his tragic childhood. As deeply buried feelings of hate and revenge spring to the surface, the protagonist must struggle with his conscience to do the right thing. But will he, when his own ideas about justice and the higher good tell him it is right to kill?
Now compare it to the second one which got the agent’s attention:
At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated out of his senses by her physical perfection as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. After a while, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her—her skin’s abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.
The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.
But nothing, not even the stunning beauty of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…

Here are some guidelines to help you create great blurbs:

*Keep it short (100-250 words). The aim is to convey what makes the book unique in a small amount of space.
*In it set the mood, the scene, and the conflict or enigma.
*It should have mounting tension. The beginning should have a “hint” of the conflict or threat, yet remain pretty innocuous (look at my blurb number two: boy meets girl in a tavern). By the end of the blurb, the conflict or threat should be imminent (protagonist must save his sister’s unborn child and his own soul).
*Think of the best angle to approach your story. Both of my blurbs describe what happens in my novel, yet the second one sounds much more exciting.
*As with a good book review, never put “spoilers” in the blurb. You can do this in a book summary or synopsis, but never in a blurb. (Look again at my blurb number one. In it I make the big mistake of revealing the nature of my “evil” female protagonist—she is the soul of an aborted infant. In blurb number two, you suspect there’s something wrong with her, but you don’t know what. You’re left wondering).
*Think about what makes your book different.
*Question marks can be used to leave the reader intrigued.
*Often ellipsis are used at the end to leave reader asking questions.
*Keep adverbs and adjectives to a minimum and use action verbs.
*Needless to say, make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
*If your book is non-fiction, does it have special features like pictures or diagrams? What is the aim of the book? What are you trying to accomplish? Does it teach anything? How is this book different from others in the field?
*Remember that blurbs are not summaries! Don’t tell the whole story—only the exciting part of it so that the reader will want to know more.
*Don’t exaggerate or sugar coat it. Be professional.
*Study the blurbs from your book shelves, paying special attention to their style, language, and content.
*Write and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Then show it to people who can offer honest feedback.
One last tip:
Do you know that powerful, dramatic voice that you hear in the cinemas during movie trailers? That alluring voice, often exaggerated, that describes the movies? Well, read your own blurb with this voice in your mind, matching its tone and pitch. You’ll be surprised to find out how much that helps!

About the author:

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. A reviewer for over a decade, she now offers online reviewing workshops. She also offers workshops on the art of children’s picture book writing. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Visit her website at, join her mailing list, and automatically receive the free ebook, Reviewers Talk about Their Craft and the first lesson from her Slippery Art of Book Reviewing Workshop.

To receive two free lessons of her popular Walking on a Rainbow, a Fiction Picture Book Workshop, visit


We love to hear of your success stories, submit them to us at:

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Shirley A. Roe has been interviewed see it here:

Allbooks Reviews INTERVIEW:

Please state your name and location. Zach Fortier, Colorado, USA (city and State or Province, Country)

Tell us the title and publisher of your book: Curbchek. Self Published

Tell us about yourself: I have been a cop for 28 years. Started in the military at 18. Pretty much been doing it ever since. I have toyed with the idea of writing a couple of books about those years for some time. Finally sat down and did it

When was the book released?: The Kindle version was released Aug 20th, 2011. The paperback was released Aug 30th, 2011

Give us an overview of your book. Curbchek is a compilation of short stories, each a complete story in itself. Some having ties to other stories but written much like they would happen on the street. The chaos of the types of calls and the emotions they put you through are similar to what any extended period of time in a patrol car would be like

What inspired you to write this book? Dumb really, my wife watches crime dramas a lot. I can always tell what is going to happen in the first 2-3 minutes. She asked me about my stories and when I tell her she is always amazed and says you should write a book!

How is your book different from other books in this genre? My book is different in a few ways. There is no Femme Fatale; there is no nudity on the cover, and no sexual scenes in the story that are not as they happened on the street. It is what the reader would experience riding along in a cop car in any city in the US.

Where can people buy your book? The Book is available on and at the web site:

Are you working on another book? If so when do you expect it to be published? I have been working on another book called StreetCreds. It will take the reader inside the realities of gang life. From peewees to Older gang bangers. As seen for the cops point of view. The reality of the life style, and the toll it takes on them and it took on me being assigned to investigate their cases.

If you self published, what advice can you give to fellow writers? I did self publish. No Agent or publisher has ever walked in my shoes and to have them try to remake my book into something more streamlined and marketable was not what I wanted. I received a lot of feedback all wanting me to go different directions. I did not want to lose the reality of what I had written for some desk weenies idea of what cops are and do. So my advice is follow your gut. The book is yours, run with it. The success or failure will be yours as well

Can you share one of your marketing successes with us? I have been surprised by the reaction of the people that were on the street at the time I was. Not as cops but living there, seeing these cases unfold, living in the neighborhoods I worked in. They have been very positive towards the book and me as well. As a cop you are very much a part of their lives. How you treated them determined your success on the street and in court. They are surprisingly friendly and open to the book.

How did you find Allbooks Reviews and what are you hoping for in your relationship with us? I found Allbooks on the web looking for someone to review the book besides readers. I wanted an honest review.

Was the low cost a surprise? What other things would you like Allbooks Reviews to offer writers? I don’t know what more you could offer. The successful selling of any book is such a fluke. Right time right place seems to be way more important than any advertising campaign. Word of mouth seems to have the biggest impact on my sales so I would guess the more exposure you could provide the more valuable your service would become to authors.

Thank you for this interview and best of luck with your book. Thank you and I hope to continue with your service for Streetcreds. Coming out soon!

Contact us to see your interview here, remember Allbooks Review International is your one stop source for review/promo for less than $50.


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