January 30, 2009

Blurb Buzzwords

Here's my question for ya'll: What words in a blurb will increase your chances of buying and/or reading a book? To me, blurbs are a tricky thing. Some really annoy me because they misrepresent the book and I end up buying something I've no interest in reading. Others leave me going 'meh' but I buy the book anyway because someone I trust recommended it. (Keedledee, Deimyts, and m'dad - I'm looking at you. Oh how I trust you with my soul. It's so nice of ya'll to return the favor.) Some make me bounce up and down with happiness and want the book RIGHT THEN like a little kid.

Some of my personal buzzwords are:

1) Faeries. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. I adore the little dangerous buggers and books to do with them. Books I've previously purchased due to the word "faerie" attached to it include Artemis Fowl, Tithe, and The Faerie Reel. Clearly this is a magnificent key to finding great books.

2) Pirates/Privateers. Exhibit C. Exhibit D. Despite the fact I prefer ninjas, I think I prefer reading about pirates. I'm still holding out on Patrick O'Brien. (Maturin! You deserve better than that cold-hearted snake.) Pirates caused me to pick up the Bloody Jack series, which is as fun to explain to people as it is to read. Also, there are pirates in Robin Hobb's Liveship trilogy. But start with her Farseer trilogy, which brings me to point three:

3) Assassins. See Exhibit A again. Or Exhibit E. Right now I'm coming up with a blank on assassin purchased books (except for the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies), but not assassin movies. So go watch Leon (The Professional) and Grosse Pointe Blank. (My other dangerous movie love? Irish gangsters.)

4) Superheroes. Exhibit F. Exhibit G. Exhibit H. Exhibit I. Highly embarrassing Exhibit J. This is totally a product of the fact I sometimes read graphic novels and watched cartoons during the glory days of animated superheroes. Let's say some superhero fueled purchases were Hero, Soon I Shall Be Invincible, and The Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl.

5) Vampires. Okay, there are plenty of examples both here and on TGTBTU. This is actually not that trustworthy though because the market is currently flooded with vampire books.

Okay, so there's five of my buzzwords. C'mon now, I wanna hear yours. If you share I might tell even more of mine.


  1. Oh, this is a great subject. The first words that come to mind for me are "family history." If the book explores multiple generations, I usually love it. Also, if the main character is a writer, I will grab the book. Great post! I'm going to link to this next week and perhaps pose this question, too.

  2. Honestly, I go for anything that catches my interest. I think faeries is the least of all. I'm not sure why but I'm not attracted to them when it comes to books. Vampires is also out the window for me now after the Twilight craze. It'll be awhile when I go crawling back to that theme.

    I adore the theme pirates and assassins but I don't think I have read many of them. I'm afraid that the book won't be so good and it'll ruin it for me.

  3. Your buzzwords are my buzzwords! Additional ones are magic, fairy tales (original and retellings), zombies...

    I also go for books that have reviews from some of my favorite authors, e.g. a blurb from Orson Scott Card will make me want to try the book!

  4. Oh, and knights/swords also delight me, especially when there is a strong heroine involved.

  5. WWII, Holocaust, page-turner, vampires

    How's that for eclectic!

  6. lol erotic always catches my eye ;)

    anything historical...so any terms going that direction


  7. Wow, there's quite a bit of response already!

    Karen - I'm glad the topic resonates with you! I'll keep an eye out for your post about it. I definitely like writer characters too. Plus, you reminded me of another thing I like - genetics. Especially when combined with ethics, engineering, or both.

    Diana Dang - You don't like faeries? *le gasp* What about Fairy Cube by the beyond awesome Kaori Yuki? Okay, okay, people have dif taste.

    I would definitely say there's a lot more that catches my interest, but I was trying to think of some things that catch my interest fastest. I think I may try to look up examples of my fave blurbs and post them next week.

    At least you like pirates and assassins. But I know what you mean - IWBYJR has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it (mostly) because I'm horribly afraid of not liking it. I love what it involves, I adore the author, and I couldn't stand it if I didn't like the book.

    cecilia - I'm feeling those words too! Have you read Tamora Pierce's books set in Tortall? They're chockful of knights, swords, and strong women.

    I don't always trust author blurbs, but yeah, those affect me too. Especially authors like Kim Harrison who don't put their name on every other book.

    Serena - Well, two of those aren't on my list because I mostly avoid sad books, but I've definitely read good books about both. And we should celebrate ecleticism! The more things you like, the more books you have to read!

    Marta - Have you read the recently released erotic historical anthology Private Places? I liked three of the four novellas, which is a good showing for an anthology.

  8. Great question...

    Words like "haunting," "disturbing," and (not necessarily for the same book) "hilarious." Altho, if someone can find one single book that is haunting, disturbing AND hilarious, I will probably snap it up in a heartbeat!

  9. Multi generational saga is a grabber for me. Also books set in Great Britain. Family secrets, mystery particularly cozies,legal thrillers will get my initial interest and then I will pursue further.

    Vampires, erotica, sci fi and westerns make me run in the opposite direction. I guess I am just not "with it".

  10. Leigh - Ooh, good words. Perhaps Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks? It's about a boy whose dad dies just as he's inherited money, so he fakes that the dad is still alive . . . I really enjoy and think all three words would apply.

    Kaye - There is no with it. I run from westerns myself. (Okay, there is something wrong with you since you don't like SF. ^_~) My mom hates vampire books and doesn't know why they're so popular since it makes it harder to find the books she likes. She doesn't get why I or anyone else likes them.

    My sister likes legal thrillers. And I totally forgot about setting! I love books set in places I've studied about or places I've lived/visited. I love comparing my experience to the author's view.

  11. My top ones are probably dystopia, post apocalyptic vision, fairy tale retelling, international intrigue, time travel.

    Great subject for a post. Have you seen Steph's about the word "edgy" in blurbs?

  12. Lenore - My sophomore year of high school was all dystopian fiction, so I got a little turned off. But post-apocalyptic does draw me in, inevitably. Have you read On the Beach?

    And I just saw Steph's post! Total synergy.

  13. I love all your buzz words. Fairy is definitely up there for me, as well as historical settings. Anything that sounds like it has a kick-butt heroine (Graceling comes to mind). I also really enjoy coming-of-age stories.

  14. Depends on the type of book. For YA, teen spy is probably my biggest buzzword. Well, buzzphrase, I guess. For romance, it's French Revolution, though there aren't many French Revolution-set historicals published these days. And I love Scandinavian mysteries, so I'll pick up any book with a description that mentions it was a bestseller in or translated from Swedish, Norwegian, or Icelandic.

  15. Em - kick butt heroines are always good.

    Trisha - Oh, have you read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? I want to. Teen spies are pretty cool - Gallagher girls, Alex Rider, the Squad.

    I'm not sure about French Revolution for romance. That's a very dangerous time full of scarcity. However, I trust in the power of the romance author to make things end happily.

  16. Great topic - faeries, other worlds, spys, secrets (especially family ones), and incompatible lovers all do it for me :)

  17. No, I haven't read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo yet. But I want to!


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