Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Anniversary - A Book Description

In preparation for the release next month of my third novel The Anniversary I've been working on the book description, a task which always causes me great angst. How to sum up that 100,000 word novel in less than 250 words? And how do you know that those few chosen words will attract readers?

So I’ve decided to reach out for guidance. Below, I’ve shown my current work-in-progress on the book description. What do you think? Does it sound interesting to you? All comments and suggestions would be gratefully received.

The Anniversary

Detective Paul Rigby wanted it all – a career, marriage and a family – but with the approach of the first anniversary of his girlfriend’s death, a death in which he believes he played a role, his sense of guilt threatens to sabotage the one thing left to him: his promising career. 

That career would already be in ruins without the intervention of Chief of Police Jim Pearson. Desperate to prevent his best detective from continuing on his path to self-destruction, Pearson is forced to resort to ever more devious methods of keeping him under control.  Yet even he begins to doubt the wisdom of protecting his protégé when Rigby punches a fellow officer and starts a chain of events that will put Rigby’s career at risk in ways neither could ever imagine. 

Thank you.



  1. I might reword it to something like the following:

    Detective Paul Rigby's role in his girlfriend's death has haunted him since that tragic day almost one year ago. With his dreams of marriage and family already destroyed, Rigby's guilt now threatens to sabotage the one thing left to him: his promising career.

    Desperate to prevent his best detective from continuing on his path to self-destruction, Chief of Police Jim Pearson is forced to resort to ever more devious methods of keeping Rigby under control. Yet even he begins to doubt the wisdom of protecting his protégé when a spontaneous act of violence starts a chain of events that will put Rigby’s future at risk in ways neither could ever imagine.

    Rigby "wanting it all" seems too common to mention first, since most people want some variation of it all. I also think you could add another sentence at the end along the lines of "Now if Pearson and Rigby fail to stop the events put in motion, both their lives may be in danger" or whatever is appropriate. I'm sure Rigby's career isn't the only thing threatened in the story, so if there are lives or something personal from Pearson's point of view at stake that you won't spoil the story by including, try to mention that too.

  2. Marla, thanks so much for your comments - you have certainly given me something to think about!

    1. No problem, Mel. I should mention I hate writing book descriptions too, and I'm probably not the best when it comes to making them compelling. I don't think anyone likes writing these, and I won't take offense if you ignore my suggestions. Good luck with it.

  3. Hi Mel. First - a disclaimer. I am not good at these descriptions either. They are the hardest part of writing. That said - I worry that the way you portray Rigby makes him look like a bit too weak to be the protagonist. Pearson sounds like the more interesting character. I doubt that Rigby is intended to look like a loser so you might want to either downplay the self-destruct aspect or punch up a stronger trait. I hope that doesn't come across as too critical. :)

    1. Thanks very much for your comments. It's much appreciated and not at all too critical. These are just the kind of reactions I need!

  4. First up, thanks for sharing. This is a neat idea to get feedback on the blurb. I'm in the middle of the blurb nightmare myself, and I find it particularly difficult as it's a sequel and stuff has already happened (but not sure how much to allude to when not everyone will have read book one).

    But, back to your blurb. I have the advantage of coming late to the party, so I've seen the previous comments. I liked the way Marla refocused the first paragraph on Rigby being haunted by his girlfriend's death. I think the thrust of the story is that he is haunted by this death and Rigby's behavior we see in the book is a result of his downward spiral following the death (or leading up to the anniversary), so that's probably a good way to go.

    Like unknown, I was a little confused about the role of Pearson. He seems like the more proactive character. In your blurb, Pearson is the only one actually doing things. Rigby seems to out of control, guided by a desperate sense of grief/guilt. I think books tend to be about character choices and how they behave in the face of difficult situations, and the only person in the blurb making choices in the face of difficult situations, appears to be Pearson.

    If Rigby is the main character, I think the blurb would be stronger if it were framed more from Rigby's perspective, so we could see him do more. Something like, "Rigby has one professional ally: Police Chief Jim Pearson. Rigby resists Pearson's attempts to help and punches a fellow cop. But this sets off a chain of events that neither could have predicted. Rigby will need Pearson's help if he is to salvage his career."

    And that's not very good. But, I think framing the blurb around Rigby will help it flow better. At present, Pearson has a much stronger presence.

    Finally, since the book is called the anniversary, does this chain of events lead him back to the girlfriend's murder? If that's the case, I think you might want to just say that, as I'm not sure the fact that an unpredictable chain of events has been set off is enough to get readers to say, I want to know what that chain is. If it doesn't have to do with the girlfriend's death, then I still say we need to know more about this chain, and what is at stake for Rigby. He sounds depressed enough that he doesn't care about his survival, so why should the reader. He needs more at stake, so we can get behind him and root for him.

    And I hope I'm not sounding overly harsh. I like the thrust of the story based on the blurb you have. I just feel like I want stronger stakes.

    1. Thanks RJ - I much appreciate you taking the time to comment at such length, when I know you are working to get your next release out too. You make some very good points, which I am going to have to give due consideration. These kind of comments are exactly what I was looking for. Hopefully(!) I will be able to mull over all the comments received and come up with a stronger blurb.

      Good luck with your blurb - asking for feedback is worth considering, because I think as the author we are almost too close to the whole story to be able to determine what aspects will attract readers without giving too much of the plot away - I guess this is why the publishing houses usually write the blurbs for traditionally published authors.