Blurb Your Enthusiasm
An A-Z of Literary Persuasion
by Louise Willder
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Pub Date 11 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 8 Sep 2022
The dazzling, staggering, astonishing, unputdownable* story of the book blurb, filled with writing tips, literary folklore and publishing secrets
They’re just a few words on books. But what are blurbs really doing (other than trying to twist your arm)? This book is all about those 100-or-so words that take seconds to read but can make a world of difference – and what they tell us about literary history, the art of writing, authors from George Orwell to Zadie Smith, genres from children’s fiction to bonkbusters, cover design, the dark arts of persuasion and even who we are as readers.
It’s also about quotes, titles, first lines, hooks, adverts, puns, swearing, plots, someone called Belinda and much more. It answers questions such as:
Why do some authors hate blurbs so much they burn their own books?
What do movie taglines, six-word stories and, yes, geometry tell us about the creative process?
Should all adjectives be murdered?
Is it true that (checks jacket) you need an animal on a book’s cover to make it a bestseller?
*Including: why do publishers always describe books using words like these?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 20 members
Don't be fooled by the title and blurb!
This isn't about blurbs ... well, alright it is. But it's about more than just that and amounts to nothing less than an impassioned love letter to the world of books in general. Author Louise Willder has worked in publishing for twenty years and knows a lot about books, what sells and what doesn't and this thoroughly enjoyable book is choc-full of interesting facts and choice titbits of knowledge about the world of books and how they are sold.
She gives some examples of terrible real-life blurbs which have genuinely been used e.g. for a recent edition of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: "Mom's fishing for husbands - but the girls are hunting for love" and other blurbs which, in contrast, do their job perfectly: distilling the essence of the book into a few sentences while still leaving you thirsty for more.
She also discusses first lines (Stephen King is a bit of a star here), why titles and covers matter, Anglo-American differences, why blurbs and the world of publishing are often sexist, when and when not to do puns and much more. The book is funny and readable throughout.
In short, Louise Willder loves books and in shows. If you love books too, you'll love this.
This book is perfect for anyone who loves books - book worms, writers and budding novelists alike! With a fun, informal tone, the author takes what could be quite a dry subject and turns it into a really readable guide to the history of blurbs and why so much rests on the copy writer's shoulders! Really recommend!
Written by a professional copywriter who really knows her stuff, this is an immensely interesting book about all aspects of publishing (including cover design, marketing etc), taking as its focus the difficult job of attracting the widest range of readers using just 100 or so words, keeping as close as possible to the tone and spirit of the author.
‘Blurb writing is ventriloquism.’
‘If you’re a writer, it’s all about finding your voice. If you’re a copywriter, it’s usually about expressing someone else’s. One is an art; one is a craft (or if it’s an art, it’s the art of imitation). You just have to listen.’
The section that struck me most comes towards the end, discussing gender bias in writing reviews and the question of whether readers really tend towards male or female authors and ‘male or female subject matter’.
‘I think Rebecca Solnit nails it when she says ‘a book without women is often said to be about humanity, but a book with women in the foreground is a woman’s book’.
‘The authors Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Weiner have been duking it out over the issue of seriousness since 2010, with Weiner criticising the ‘Franzenfrenzy’ that greeted the publication of his novel Freedom. In her eyes, women writing about domestic situations were seen as limited in their appeal, but when Franzen ‘writes a book about a family … we are told this is a book about America’.’
A book full of anecdotes from the author’s years of experience in publishing, shared with wit and passion - I can’t recommend it highly enough for enthusiastic readers out there.
With thanks to Oneworld via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
Really well written and enjoyable Lots of interesting examples and the history of blurbs and titles. And full of other bookish delights. Very enjoyable.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Everything you ever wanted to know about publishing?
The blurb is an underestimated art form, ‘but they also tell us much about language. They require concision and concentration. Words have to work extra hard. According to Cecil Day-Lewis, the sonnet, the detective story and the blurb are all the most perfect crystallisation of literary form’.
Don’t even think about submitting your beloved oeuvre to the scrutiny of an agent until you have read this guide to the publishing industry, Far more than a guide to the do’s and don’ts of copy writing - if you really want to sell your book, this is the place to start before you have even thought of the title.
This is a book lovers book, it is a love letter to all things book. I loved it. Being super bookish it was a book made for me and my follow bookworms.
Thank you to the author, NetGalley and Oneworld Publishing for the ARC it was read, read out loud and will be purchased as gift for my bookish pals to read. Here is my fair and honest review
Have you wonder what makes you buy that book? Then let Louise Wilder tell you after 25 years of experience of writing book blurbs to capture you and make you buy that book she knows her stuff. This book covers it all in funny easy to read way. I really enjoyed the quotes from various authors and extracts from many of my favourite books. I liked how she took these apart and made you think differently about them. The Wizard Of Oz example made me proper chuckle and I will never look Holden Caulfield the same way again.
I loved the chapter on the classics, the opening quote from Alan Bennett is all too true and highlights Wilders previous point about how a opening line can make or break a novel. Being a big whodunit fan I really found the section on writing blurbs for these books very interesting and it does explain why that sometimes the blurb is better than the actual book. The section of woman’s literature was my favourite I have had many of the same thoughts as the author, and I particularly loved the discussion and quotes from Marian Keyes.
This book made think about why I pick up certain books. Is it the title, is it the media quote , the cover design or is it just the author?!?
Then of course what makes me buy it? Does the blurb swing it?
I had never thought about how the blurb is actually a really well thought paragraph, it is usually what makes you part with your cash -how is it set out, is it talking to you, what language is used, are you been asked a question -it is all so interesting and really makes you think about books are marketed
I really liked this book, what would have been great was a reading list of the books mentioned at the end along with the bibliography , that would have taken it to five stars.
It is a book that will spark discussion and make you think about your book buying habits.
It is funny, smart, full of titbits, interesting and enjoyable to read.
This will make the perfect gift for anyone who loves to escape with a good book, it will be purchased as a Christmas gift for a few bookworms in my life.
If books are your thing this is for you.
What an absolute DELIGHT this was! Not just a book about books in the usual sense of covering the basic classics and traditionally well-liked books, but a book full of publishing nerdery that pulls from all corners of the industry to provide history, insight into contemporary practice, and tips and tricks to write your own copy. Who knew the blurb could be so interesting? I loved Willder's funny and lighthearted tone throughout that had me giggling away and pausing to recite a particular line to my partner, and I loved the breadth of her subject area. Working in a bookshop I read a lot of blurbs, but I know that from now on I'll look at them in a whole new light. I cannot wait for this to come out so I can get my hands on a physical copy, one for the Christmas list for sure!
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