Interview: Book launch with Shelley Chappell

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Chappell Photo 300dpi(1)Shelley Chappell is a writer of fantasy fiction and fairy tale retellings for children and young adults. She is the author of Beyond the Briar: A Collection of Romantic Fairy Tales (nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel Award), and various short stories. Today we are talking to her about her recent project, Wish Upon a Southern Star, an anthology of retold fairy tales by New Zealand and Australian authors, which is scheduled for release on September 2nd, 2017.

Hi Shelley, thank you for joining us today. What was the inspiration behind Wish Upon a Southern Star?
I was invited to meet with the Christchurch Children’s Literature Hub to speak about fairy tales. I had already published my own collection of retold fairy tales, Beyond the Briar, and it was great fun to share my passion for fairy tales with the group. One of the activities involved leading the group through the process of rethinking and rewriting their own chosen fairy tale and that gave me the idea of editing a collection of writing by other authors in New Zealand and Australia.

Can you tell us about some of the stories?
Every author has their own unique way of reinterpreting the original tales and it’s fun to read how they reshape the original characters and plots. I met some very memorable characters walking through these pages and enjoyed their adventures. With twenty-one stories, it’s hard to pick one or two to highlight but I can say that there are stories set in this world and stories set in other places, comical stories and stories that pluck at the heart-strings. With such a range of different stories hopefully there will be something to appeal to everyone!

Would you be able to share with us a little about the anthology creation process?
The anthology began with a call for submissions nearly a year ago, which I sent out to all the writing groups I could reach in New Zealand and Australia. Once the submissions came in, I got to enjoy the process of reading them all. I read lots of great stories, including some I had to decline because they just weren’t ultimately a good fit for the collection. The editing process came next, and I really enjoyed working with the contributing authors to get their stories ready for the collection. With twenty-one contributing authors this took some time to complete, but once a final draft was ready it was time for proofreading and formatting the manuscript for Createspace and Kindle (the publishing platforms for Wish Upon a Southern Star). After that came the marketing and advertising in preparation for the anthology’s release.

The official book launch is Saturday, September 2nd. Where is it, and what can we expect?
The book launch will take place between 2 – 4 pm on Saturday 2nd September in the Sydenham Room at the South Library at 66 Colombo Street. Seventeen of the contributing authors will be in attendance, some coming from the North Island and Australia, so it should be a really fun occasion. The launch will start at 2pm with some speeches and author introductions, followed by a mix and mingle with light refreshments, allowing guests an opportunity to purchase and sign books and meet the authors.

Thank you Shelley, looking forward to meeting you and the other authors there.

shelleychappell-wish-upon-a-southern-star-2

Interview with Michelle McConnochie

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MMcCMichele Clark McConnochie is a Christchurch-based children’s author with over 25 years’ experience in education. She  teaches creative writing and is a freelance features writer for local newspapers. Her trilogy, The Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers, was first published via Createspace, but the first book, the Uncooperative Flying Carpet, was recently picked up by Morgan James Kids.

Welcome Michele, and thank you for joining us today to answer a few questions.

Firstly, can you tell us a little about the Sabrina Summers series?
It’s a middle-grade trilogy which, although each book has serious messages for readers, is designed to be funny and engaging. Sabrina Summers and her friends are accidentally sent to a strange and mysterious land where they find that being traditional fairy-tale characters is really no fun at all. The books follow a traditional quest format but turn fairytales inside out. Once the magic objects are found, a battle ensues with the kingdom of Dralfynia at stake. Along the way there is treachery and betrayal, and the traditional happy ending where a character becomes a ruler is given a very 21st century twist. I want children to think for themselves and learn to take responsibility for what they do, but to enjoy themselves at the same time.

I have also seen that your series has been released in a special dyslexic-friendly format. Are you able to tell us a little about the difference in style, and how that is helpful to the reader?
I contacted the Dyslexia Foundation of NZ. They recommended dyslexie font and I bought a publisher’s licence from them. As well as using that font, the books are on cream paper and have a ragged, not straight, right-hand margin. I also deliberately used short chapters with cliffhangers to encourage reluctant readers.

You’ve also put a lot of thought into creating additional resources for the readers, such as teaching notes. Any advice to other middle-grade authors who might want to include some of their own? Does it help to be a teacher?
Well, all teachers pinch ideas from other teachers, so take a look at other author’s websites and see what looks like a good match (David Walliams and Roald Dahl both have tons of resources). You don’t need to be a teacher, just be creative. I was going to link my worksheets to the national curricula of the UK and NZ, but it was quite complicated to do both.

When your third book was released, you held a book launch, which I attended. Do you feel book launches are important? How much planning and organisation is required to make it successful?
I absolutely think they are important, even though many authors are introverts and dread public speaking! I launched at the NZ Society of Author’s Book Buzz, and they’re happy to give you a platform with another couple of authors and organise the room booking etc, but I also launched at a local library, after running a Canterbury-wide children’s story and drawing competition. Helen Mongillo was incredibly generous and did heaps of the organising, and arranged for Gavin Bishop, Heather McQuillan and Bob Docherty to be the judges. I got entries from around Canterbury, it was heaps of fun, but I found it was a ‘loss leader’ and a lot of work. It’s easier if you work with someone else (a friend is a photographer and we talked about a joint launch/exhibition but the audiences were too different), and it helps if you have a gimmick such as a raffle or food. Basically, ask for help – the Guild seems incredibly supportive!

Any tips on inviting in new readers to introduce to your series?
Because I write for children, I’ve tried getting my books on the catalogue for Scholastic (they said ‘no’) and I’ve done some teaching in schools and donated the dyslexia-friendly copy of my books to the dyslexia foundation which did lead to publicity and sales. Copies were donated to libraries in the UK (thanks Mum) and here and again, both led to sales. AllbooksNZ are great to use for schools and libraries, I think Scorpio have a publication and if they stock your books, they’ll include it (but I haven’t got that far yet).

What other sorts of promotion and marketing have you done for your books?
I’ve done some Facebook advertising, have a blog (which I hardly ever do) and have my Twitter and Instagram accounts linked to Facebook. Sending copies to be reviewed is good, but I think you have to be a ‘dripping tap’ and keep on getting yourself out there to maintain, or extend, the shelf-life of your book.

Can you tell us a bit about your publishing deal?
Yes, it’s very exciting. Having self-published, I was a bit reluctant to hand over the reins to a traditional publisher and, although I did contact a number of agents in the UK as well as a couple of publishers in the US (who all rejected me), Morgan James Kids was a perfect fit. Their background was in old-fashioned ‘vanity publishing’ and they still offer a similar service for their non-fiction books, but they recently branched out into children’s books. They take 12 new publications a year and the copyright remains with the author. We work together for marketing (they get the books on shelves in the US and UK and I have books for sale via my website), and their authors are treated as equal partners, which is fantastic. I have input all the way through the re-editing, book design and cover process, and in return, they ask authors to ‘put some skin in the game’ by taking a number of books at cost and selling them to generate buzz. I approached them, heard nothing for a while then got an initial email. That was followed up with a phone call with their fiction acquisitions editor before the book went to their reading committee to be voted on. The reason for the call is they want to make sure they are dealing with authors who also have a sensible, commercial approach and are prepared to go out and do school visits etc. They have agreed to publish book one of the Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers, The Uncooperative Flying Carpet and that is released early 2018.

And finally, what other projects are you working on now?
I’m still chipping away at a travel book, working titled Big Boots, based on a trip I took last July and August to sites associated with classic children’s books such as the actual Pooh Corner and Secret Garden, and for light relief, I’m developing a book of short stories based on the background characters from the Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers.

Thank you for your time, Michele.

And if you wish to read her books, or learn more about Michele Clark McConnochie, please check out her website: http://mcmauthor.com

book series all 3 covers - Copy

Upcoming Opportunities for Authors

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We have compiled a selection of local and national opportunities for authors. Please note that these are not Guild-affiliated, for further information, please refer to the links provided.

Anthologies:

SpecFicNZ is seeking submissions to a new anthology titled, Te Kōrero Ahi Kā, an unthemed anthology that will showcase the best work from members of the SpecFicNZ organisation of writers, poets, artists, and creatives.

You need to be a member of SpecFic NZ to enter, you can join or renew here.

Submissions close: 31 October 2017.

For further details

Competitions:

New Zealand Society of Authors are running the Heritage Book & Writing Awards, with two categories open for unpublished authors: poetry and short prose. The theme is “Finding Our Way.” Authors are encouraged to approach the theme broadly.

Each short-form category awards a prize of $200 for first place.

There is a $15 entry fee.
Submissions Close: 15 August 2017

For more information, please visit their website.

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William Taylor Memorial Heartland Short Story Competition is being held for 2017. Monetary prizes of $300, $75 and $50 respectively will be awarded.

Entries should be fiction in any genre and be up to 1,000 words in length.

There is a $10 entry fee.
Submissions close: 30 September 2017

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The Storylines Awards are hosted annually, with three categories for  unpublished authors of children’s fiction. These awards come with an offer of publication from well-renowned Australasian publishers for the winning entrant.

Tessa Duder Award: for teenage/young adult fiction.
Tom Fitzgibbon Award: for middle grade readers (7-11 years)
Joy Cowley Award: for a picture book manuscript

Please note: an entry fee applies.
Submissions close: 31 October 2017

Interview with Robinne Weiss

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robinneweissRobinne Weiss—an entomologist and educator by training—has never been able to control her writing habit. She has been publishing poetry and short fiction since the 1970s and has been known to answer exam questions in verse. She has published several excellent novels for middle-grade readers: A Glint of Exoskeleton and The Dragon Slayer’s Son, with a third, Brisket’s B&B currently in the works. She has also published the teacher’s guide Insects in the Classroom which draws on her decades of teaching as The Bug Lady.

Greetings Robinne, and thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us today.

Firstly, can you tell us a little about your books?
In A Glint of Exoskeleton, Crick (a girl who can talk to insects) and her cockroach friend Peri must save the human race from a deadly new disease engineered by mosquitoes.

In The Dragon Slayer’s Son, Nathan and his friends are dragon slayers in training, after the death of their parents. When they learn that Nathan’s father might still be alive, they mount a rescue mission that requires them to enlist the aid of the dragons themselves.

Outside of writing, you have a wide range of skills and passions. How have they influenced and inspired your stories? Any more than others?
I’ve always been a science geek, and I find it difficult to write fiction without injecting some science into it. Even my dragons, imaginary though they are, are based on science—shaped by the same evolutionary forces that shaped New Zealand’s bird and insect fauna. Other interests creep in from time to time; Brisket’s B&B involves a lot of scones, biscuits, and cookies, which I enjoy baking.

A Glint of Exoskeleton and The Dragon Slayer’s Son are independently published. Is there a particular reason you chose that route?
When I decided to close my science outreach business and write full-time, my plan was to go the traditional publishing route. But the publishing world has gone through dramatic changes in the past few years—indie publishing has become more professional, and big publishers have cut back on what they offer authors in order to maintain their own profitability. The more I learned about what I could expect from a traditional publisher, the more I felt it simply wasn’t a good deal for the author anymore. Once I realised that, the decision to go indie was a natural one—the amount of control it gives me over the process suits my personality. I can craft the book from cover to cover at my own pace, and without having to wait months for agents or publishers to get back to me.

Can you tell us a little about the indie publishing process?
I want my books to be able to stand side-by-side with traditionally published books—I don’t want them to smack of self-publishing. So, for me, the indie publishing process starts with a lot of revision and editing. My first draft gets put aside for a few weeks after I’ve finished writing. When it’s rested a bit, I go back over it myself and revise. My kids and husband then read it—often aloud so I can hear how it sounds and how someone else interprets it. I revise it again. Then it goes out to a team of beta readers (kids and adults). I do another round of revision after that.

At this point I decide whether the book is ‘publishable’. No, I don’t publish everything I write—as an indie author, I have to be my own gatekeeper. At this point in the process I’ve invested nothing but my time in the book, but from here on out, I’ll be putting money into it. I want it to be worthwhile.

My first monetary outlay is for the cover. I can’t draw to save my life, so I pay an illustrator to create my covers. A good illustrator will capture the spirit of your book. But to do this, the author needs to provide details. I send the illustrator a synopsis of the book, plus a detailed list of possible cover imagery—I describe the main character (physical and personality), the setting, supporting characters, and overall theme of the story. The illustrator does his magic and comes back with something that is usually entirely different from what I visualised, but absolutely perfect. I have the illustrator make me a front cover only, but I ask for the images in separate files. So I get a finished front cover, plus each component of that cover (text, background, figures) separate. With these, I can create a back cover for the print book, plus all my marketing material.

While the cover is being made, I edit the text. First, I make two editing passes to find as many errors as possible myself—the cleaner the manuscript is, the cheaper the professional editing is. When I think I’ve got a pretty clean manuscript, I send it to a professional copy editor.

Even a professional editor will miss mistakes, so after the editor has been through it, I make two more passes (forward and backward—yes, it’s tedious), trying to catch the last of the errors.

When I think the text is perfect, I create the files for upload to KDP, Createspace, Smashwords, etc.—one for e-book format, one for print format. Smashwords has a nice guide on formatting for e-book, which I follow, and Createspace has a guide on print book formatting.

Uploading to KDP etc. is easy—the websites walk you through the process and give plenty of opportunities to tweak things. Once I’ve uploaded my files and have addressed any glaring problems with them, I request my ISBNs. You can only do this 8 weeks from publication, so it’s one of the last things I do.

I always order a physical proof. There’s nothing like having the actual book in hand to help you find mistakes. And it’s better to take the time to find mistakes before publication than afterwards. I always find more errors after publication, too. It’s the nature of the beast. The great thing about indie publishing is that I can go in and fix the errors whenever they surface.

Do you have any advice for writers intending to pursue that path?
Indie-publishing requires a great deal of self-control. It’s easy to whip a half-baked piece of writing up on KDP or Smashwords. You’ve got to be able to control that urge and wait until the piece is polished. Also, the most difficult part of indie-publishing is what comes after publication—marketing. I don’t claim to have a handle on that. I’m still learning—getting better at that is one of my goals for 2017.

And lastly, what can we expect to see from you in the near future?
I have a kid’s guide to backyard bugs coming out at the end of July, and I’ll be releasing a new middle-grade novel, Brisket’s B&B, later in the year. I’m also working on the sequel to The Dragon Slayer’s Son and revisions of a young adult novel that I deemed not quite ready for publication last year.

Many thanks for your time, Robinne.

If you wish to check out Robinne’s writing yourself – they might be aimed at the 8-12 market, but they’re excellent for all ages – you can find them here: The Dragon Slayer’s Son and A Glint of Exoskeleton

Interview with Christopher Keene

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 Christopher Keene’s first novel, a LitRPG adventure, Stuck in the Game, was published by Future House Publishing in August 2016 with the sequel, Back in the Game, following in 2017. Christopher has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with Honours in Creative Writing. He has received two honourable mentions in the Writers of the Future competition and won first place in a creative writing competition for the University of Canterbury Gazette.

Christopher recently signed a contract with Solstice for his grimdark/epic fantasy trilogy, A Cycle of Blades. The first book in the trilogy, Gods of the Mountain, is scheduled for release later this year.

Welcome Christopher, can you please tell us a little about your books?
Stuck in the Game and Back in the Game are my first two books in the LitRPG series, Dream State Saga. As their titles imply, they are the usual ‘stuck in a video game’ story trope, but with a bit of a twist in that the protagonist must stay in the game to help him recover from a car crash which paralyzed him and put his partner in a critical condition.

Aside from that I also have an epic fantasy trilogy in the works, a dystopian sci-fi novel under contract with Lang Publishing and am currently under negotiation with a few publishers for a fantasy story that uses New Zealand and Māori mythology as the basis for its setting and magic.

  

What exactly is LitRPG, and what inspired you to write in that genre?
According to the Facebook group LitRPG is a sci-fi or fantasy story that follows two rules: 1) It involves some type of explicitly stated progression (ie leveling, report of item finds, quests, etc). 2) It involves a game-type world of some kind that the main character has been involved in. I’ve had feedback that Dream State Saga is a decent gateway series for anyone wanting to give this genre a try.

When I first wrote Stuck in the Game I didn’t know LitRPG was even a thing, and I doubt many authors whose books fit into it (e.g. Tad Williams and Ken Catran) know about it even now. I was lucky to find this niche market after my book’s release. What inspired me to write the book was when a friend of mine (who the book is dedicated to) bet me I couldn’t write a story as good as anime like Sword Art Online, .Hack/Sign, and Log Horizon after I criticized their stories. I want to say I succeeded, but anyone who has watched these shows are free to let me know whether or not they concur.

You chose to take the traditional route, and went with the Future House Publishing, can you tell us a little about the process of seeking a traditional contract?
I’ve always found the traditional publishing route to be a lot like fishing. Through much trial and error, I finally found the right formula for writing a good query letter or as I like to call it, the bait. Querying is pretty much the bread and butter of submitting to agents and publishers and once it was pitch perfect, I started throwing out some lines; submitting it to agents and publishers alike in the hope of getting a bite. I actually got two bites at once, one was from Future House for Stuck in the Game and the other was from my agent for another book. I decided to race them to see which would get a book out quicker. Needless to say with two books to zero, Future House turned out to be the bigger catch.

The covers are beautiful! What is it like to work with a publisher? What are some of the advantages? Disadvantages?
Thanks! A word I would use for what it’s like working with a publisher is motivating. Knowing that other people are going to be waiting on your input and suggestions really encourages you to work hard and think about things you might not have if you’re self-publishing. For the other advantages you pretty much hit the nail on the head, they supply the cover art that you want, as well as the many stages of editing and marketing.

The disadvantage is that once it’s released you have to go through a proxy to fix any errors that might be found. Luckily there’s only been a few of these. As a poor student at the time, the biggest motivation to traditional publishing was that it cost me nothing. As a novice to publishing I didn’t want to spend money I didn’t have on something that professionals could do for me.

Stuck in the Game on display at ComicCon, 2016.

Do you have any advice for any of our members who might be seeking a publisher for their own books?
There’s no dancing around it, traditional publishing is a competitive industry. Unless they’re trying to scam you, no publisher is going to choose you out of the thousands of other people submitting unless your writing is good, and the only way to be a good writer is to be honest about how bad you are now and dedicate yourself to improving.

The other side of the coin is resilience. More often than not, you will get rejections. I received hundreds before realizing what I needed to make my query letters stand out. Learn from them, second guess yourself, get a second opinion, and remember that you’re selling yourself as well as your writing so try to be professional.

And finally, what can we expect to see from you in the future?
More books! As mentioned above, a dystopian story is coming out soon as well as my first adult fantasy book, not to mention the Dream State Saga is getting another sequel. It’s a big jump for me going from a smaller publisher to a larger publisher and I’m hoping to catch one of the Big Five in the future. I’m always juggling several projects at once so who knows which one is going to help me break into the big time.

Either way, both the goal and the process itself is enjoyable to me, so I feel I win either way.

Thanks Christopher! It’s been great chatting with you.

If you wish to learn more about Christopher’s writing, please his blog: https://fantasyandanime.wordpress.com/

And you can buy his books, Stuck in the Game and Back in the Game in ebook format, via Amazon.

Future House Publishing publish Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, and Middle Grade books, with distribution in ebook and print in Barnes & Noble, Costco, Amazon, and through independent retailers. They have published 40 books since their formation in 2014, but are not currently accepting submissions.

Monthly Theme: Pantsing VS Plotting

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Pantsers write “by the seat of their pants”, not following a set structure but letting the story take them on a wild, sometimes chaotic, journey. It is also known as “Discovery Writing”.

Plotters plan out the novel in advance, sometimes in meticulous detail, setting out the story’s structure and following it from beginning to end.

Which of the two are you? Is one way better than another? While I would never dictate how anyone should write, it is true that each method has its pros and its cons, and also that many writers tend to fit somewhere between the two.

Benefits:

Discovery Writing:

  • The characters develop organically and will generally drive the story.
  • Excitement as you explore and experience the world you, as the writer, are creating.
  • The delight of discovering hidden secrets or stumbling upon an unexpected plot twist.

Plotting:

  • Because you know where the story is going, it is easier to keep on track.
  • Scenes can be written out of sequence and pieced together; you can write that scene you’re passionate about.
  • Plotting can help you solve problems with the storyline or characters.
  • Knowing the plot twists and red herrings allows for successful foreshadowing and set-up.

Drawbacks:

Discovery Writing:

  • Without a goal – where is the plot going?
  • The story can run off on a wild tangent.
  • The completed first draft will need further, sometimes multiple, revisions (which will undoubtedly result in sacrificing significant portions of the story).

Plotting:

  • It is easier to get bored of the story as you already know where it is leading.
  • Characters may end up railroaded into following the plot.

Here are some tips and tricks our members shared during our Monday night discussion:

  • It helps to know where the story begins, and have some idea of how it will end.
  • Consider your plot points to be “signposts” designed to move the plot in the right direction.
  • Be flexible: if characters, or the plot, behaves in an unexpected manner, be prepared to move these signposts.
  • Use the first draft of your discovery written novel to determine the structure of the second draft.
  • Many writers (especially those that are also dedicated readers) will find themselves subconsciously following the traditional story structure.

What are you? A plotter? A Pantser? Or a hybrid?
Do you have any tips and tricks of your own?
Share them with us on Twitter: @chchwriters or comment here!
We are also happy to take suggestions for our Monthly themes!

Monthly Theme: What Makes a Compelling Blurb?

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What is a blurb?

A blurb is a brief description of your story, a text-based advertisement to attract a future reader. It either appears on the back cover or inside the front cover on a printed book, or is the second piece of information you will find on a website (after the cover and the title).

Why is it important?

Because, after the potential reader has admired your cover and clever title, they want to know what the book is about. If your blurb does not entice them, then they’re going to put it back on the shelf, or move on to the next option.

How can I write a compelling blurb?

  • Keep it short, generally between 100-150 characters.
  • Write in third person, present tense (generally, however, exceptions may apply).
  • Be true to your genre and use words that cater to your audience. ie: If you are writing a romance, your blurb shouldn’t make it sound like a thriller.
  • Your first sentence has to hook the reader, most easily done by getting them interested in the character or intrigued by the setting.
  • Once the attention has been gained, it must be maintained. One easy way to do this is by following the basic formula below:

Basic Formula

Introduce:

A. the main character (generally including one defining feature).

Here are some examples randomly selected from my book case.

  • Nine-year old Bruno has a lot of things on his mind.
  • When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician’s apprentice…
  • Pi Patel, a God-loving boy and the son of a zookeeper has a fervent love of stories…

OR: the setting

  • London is on the move again.
  • Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten.
  • In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive…

With the character, you are seeking a way to connect with the reader, establishing the main protagonist as someone they wish to learn more about, and with the setting you are establishing a mystery: ie: is London literally moving? (yes, yes it is). You are endeavouring to engage with the reader and hook them in.

Tip: When trying to decide whether to focus on character or setting, ask yourself: which is more interesting? If unsure, write both and ask your friends/writing buddies/random strangers which they prefer.

Follow up with:

B. The problem

What goes wrong?

Tip: This is likely to be connected to the inciting incident of your story: it is the situation that takes your character from their previously predictable and reliable life and plunges them into the plot.

  • Alas, the ship sinks – and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger.

And connect this with your protagonist and the actions he (or she) will have to take:

  • Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi. Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land?

You must end with mystery – don’t spoil the end!

Tip: Although many blurbs do end with a question, if the answer is simply “yes” then your blurb may have more power if, instead, the reader is made aware of the cost to the protagonist should they fail, or the price they will have to pay to succeed.

C. The Mood

Finally, many blurbs choose to conclude with a final paragraph conveying the Mood and indicating the intended genre or audience. Here, if you have not previously, the setting can be mentioned.

  • Set in a modern-day London controlled by magicians, this hilarious, electrifying thriller will enthral readers of all ages.

Tip: Whilst it may seem logical (and is perfectly permissible) to start with the mood, you do run the risk of the reader going “oh, it’s a thriller, I don’t read thrillers” and proceed no further. Also, some readers may read the first sentence and the final paragraph before determining whether to read the middle.

What about Non-fiction?

Non-fiction blurbs are very diverse, depending on the genre.

  • Memoirs and biographies can be written in much the same way as fiction blurbs.
  • Manuals or guides for specialised topics can begin with:
    • the author and their credentials (third person, present tense).
    • with a series of questions (second person).
    • by informing you (the reader) why you might like this book (second person).

Important things to note about writing non-fiction blurbs:

  • Reach out to your intended audience and make your premise clear.
  • Demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about (list credentials/give an example).
  • Include testimonials if you have them. Of not, it won’t hurt to get some!

Tip: If you can make an outrageous, but substantiated claim, then that is a great way to attract the reader’s attention. However, never lie or mislead your reader!

I intend to publish traditionally;  do I still need a blurb?

Whilst it is true that, if traditionally published through a reputable publishing house, it is unlikely you will be writing your own blurb, first you have to get that publishing contract! Therefore, you still need a brief and enticing advertisement for your book.

Tip: Read a lot of blurbs before writing your own! Pick some randomly from your bookshelf or the library (or browse Amazon) and look at the structure. Try to determine what makes you pick them up or put them back. Specifically target books written in the same genre as yours: what do they have in common with each other, what are the differences? Are some more compelling than others?

Also, TEST your blurb, write several attempts, share them on a writers’ forum or with your friends, get feedback and make alterations accordingly.

Favourite first (or last) sentence in a blurb?
Share them with us on Twitter: @chchwriters or comment here!
We are also happy to take suggestions for our Monthly themes!