Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Wish We Could Stop Seeing...

Most people who are regular readers here know that I'm not a big fan of book blurbs. I don't put any stock in them and think the whole business is a racket. Which is unfortunate for people who make considerable efforts to write legitimate blurbs, but overall I feel the majority are simply written for the wrong reasons. However, this post today is not about that. This post is about blurb/review wording I wish we could ban.

Some phrases, especially in this genre, have become so overused they're now cliché. (I'm sure other genres have their versions of these as well.) And to be honest, many were ludicrously over the top from the get-go. They now add to the ridiculousness of the whole process (in my opinion, of course). So, here are ones I wish we could ban from ever gracing the covers of another book jacket:

1. "Grabs you by the (throat) and doesn't let go" -- how many thrillers now boast a blurb with this wording? Are we in the millions by this point? It might be quicker to count the books that AREN'T described this way. 

2.  "like [fill in the blank with a NYT Bestseller] on steroids" -- so overused and not creative at all; if this author is worth his/her salt, he/she is their own person. Note what makes them special, not what makes them like everyone else. 

3. "If [fill in the blank with famous author] and [fill in the blank with different gender famous author] had a love child it would be [this author]." -- I've found this one absurd from the first time I heard it. I have to admit that anyone who writes this loses lots of credibility points with. Blah!

4. Any reference of a roller coaster that isn't literal --Personally, I'm not a fan of roller coasters, so I wouldn't want to submit myself to the torture of hours of this feeling, but even if I did, it's been so overused it's powerless now.

5. "will keep you turning pages to the end" -- I think I'm guilty of this one, but when you think about it, shouldn't the bare minimum a writer does with a book keep the reader turning pages to the end? Isn't that kind of like saying, "o.k. you pass, you get a D because we finished the book at least"?

6. "[fill in title or author name] is the next [fill in present hot title or author name]!" Or "[fill in title or author name] is [fill in different country name]'s [fill in present hot title or author name]!" -- because my generic version is a little confusing here, I will use a specific example I encountered not too long ago: "A European Gone Girl" was used to described Herman Koch's The Dinner. Personally, I enjoyed both of these books, but didn't see what connection the review writer was making. What I hear far too often is people who will love Gone Girl and then read The Dinner and hate it because they had expectations of what it should have been before they started reading it based on that blurb. Had the individuals read The Dinner without the benefit of that blurb, they would have evaluated the book differently...basically on its own merits, not Gone Girl's. Each individual has their own ideas of what makes a book or a writer great, when we assume everyone else has those same notions then we do the books and their writers a terrible disservice.

O.k. so those are my big irritants. Of course as soon as I hit "post" on this I'm sure I'll come up with some others, but this is definitely the biggies. Do you have some that really grate on your nerves? Share with us!


Pop Culture Nerd November 12, 2014 at 2:36 PM  

Any blurb that contains "unputdownable" makes me shake my fist at it.

PCN November 12, 2014 at 2:38 PM  

Why does my comment show up with your avatar? So confused...

jen_forbus November 12, 2014 at 2:38 PM  

Oh my gosh! I can't believe I forgot that one. I'm with you, PCN!!

jen_forbus November 12, 2014 at 2:50 PM  

That's just the default setting for the blog. If you don't have a Disqus avatar set up on your account, it puts that one in.

F.T. Bradley November 12, 2014 at 6:27 PM  

The rollercoaster thing is my pet peeve too. Over-the-top praise that's really lengthy is also cringe-worthy. But as an author, I hate asking for blurbs even more than reading them :-) Especially since I don't know anyone famous.

BethFishReads November 13, 2014 at 5:50 AM  

I can't think of any more -- but I know I'm guilty of them all! :-) The worst to me are numbers 3 and 6.

kristine hall November 13, 2014 at 11:05 AM  

I am definitely guilty of #5! It is a little sad that with the sheer quantity of books being cranked out, the ability for a writer to keep the reader engaged til the very end isn't a sure thing. I enjoyed your list!

jen_forbus November 13, 2014 at 11:12 AM  

Until recently I didn't read across the genres much. For those of you who have done so more consistently, do you find some phrases that creep across all genres or do these cliches tend to be secluded to specific subjects do you think? Obviously some are...some of these might be relevant in say horror or sci-fi, but I don't think "grabs you by the throat" would sell many romances...unless of course we're talking about Fifty Shades of Gray or that ilk ;-)

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) November 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM  

I know I've used the word "roller coaster" before, but not very often. :) I tend to dismiss a lot of blurbs, especially if a book has all raving blurbs from well known authors. Seriously? I want to ask them if they've actually read it! And the word "unputdownable" like Pop Culture Nerd said? I hate that one.

Naomi Johnson November 17, 2014 at 12:11 PM  

I only pay attention to blurbs from authors who seldom blurb, but whose work I enjoy. Example: I only picked up Wiley Cash's first book, A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME, because it had a blurb from Clyde Edgerton. Glad I did. Cash wrote a terrific book.

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP