Monday, November 05, 2007

Back cover blurbs

It's that time of the year again - no, not Nano, something far worse. I have to submit suggestions for the Hal Spacejock No Free Lunch back cover blurb!

I'm not sure whether you're aware of this, but my 'suggestions' for the first three books made it onto the back cover verbatim (go me), and I also designed the naff torn-out adverts for books one and three ('Space pilot for Hire' and 'Guaranteed Cheap') The card from my recent blog post ("the customer comes first") will probably be used on Hal 4, too.

Did I say how much I love working with my publisher, Fremantle Press?

Anyway, I wanted to come up with a blurb, so I turned to my wife for advice. She said I should just think of the funniest bits in Hal 4 and use something from those. Alas, the only bits I could remember consisted of the kind of humour which, taken out of context, would have my books delivered to school libraries in brown paper bags.

Even now I'm reluctant to raise them, so to speak. It'd be like pulling the naughty comments and gags from Blackadder and using them to promote the show - instead of being minor asides, people would think the whole series was wall-to-wall risque gags.

To me, the other important thing with a back cover summary is that it not reveal any of the plot beyond the early stages of the novel. Some books (and DVD covers) go way too far, giving away the ending and half the journey taken to get there. Spoilers, people! Hate them.

Therefore, the Hal summaries have to be enticing without being specific, funny without being filthy, and crafted so that people know what sort of book they're getting without revealing the plot.

The other thing I've tried to do is stay consistent across the books. Give the reader three things, mention Hal and Clunk, then include a second para with a hook and a bit of humour.

Okay, that's the preamble sorted. (Does that count towards my NaNo progress? Thought not.)

Here's an early attempt. It's much too wordy and not funny at all:

Hal Spacejock and Clunk are looking for a cargo job to settle their bills, and they find just the thing on planet Dulsuil. While Clunk signs them up, Hal visits the spaceport lounge for a quick coffee, and when an attractive young woman asks him out on a date he realises his luck has finally changed.

Yeah, right.

First an old rival swoops on Hal’s cargo job, stealing it away with a promise of top class service and a bigger, faster ship. And then Hal’s date turns out to be in law enforcement: yes, the young woman is really a Peace Force trainee facing her first – and possibly last – case.

Now Hal must choose: Take on his rival and attempt to win back the cargo job, or set aside his own problems to help the young woman in her dangerous investigation.

Whatever he decides, it’s No Free Lunch for Hal Spacejock!

Next up, version two. This one gives a bit more detail and attempts a bit of humour. You'll see three things from the book in the first para, Hal's reaction and a hook:

A cunning and persistant rival, a trainee officer sucked into a dangerous investigation and a planet with more bugs than a new operating system ... yes, even Hal Spacejock's unshakeable faith in his own abilities is under threat.
Will he take on the rival to save his own business, or set aside his problems to help the trainee with her first - and possibly last - investigation? Whatever he decides, it's No Free Lunch for Hal Spacejock!

However, the 'unshakeable faith' line isn't good enough, and I'm not happy about the three things either. I'll keep working on it.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

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