Friday, June 23, 2006


Last night I was finally able to catch an episode of the new series Hex, which appears on the BBC America channel. It was some of what I expected, and some not...

I expected a Buffyesque camp/action feel, but the action got bogged down by endless dialogue and long dramatic expositions that stalled the story. There is a serial aspect to it, ala BSG and SG-1, that I like, and which will no doubt take me a few more episodes to understand all that is going on. (Yes, I plan to watch more episodes.) I don't think it was a bad show, but not like what the advertisements made it seem. Which brings me to my point:

Back and flap copy as advertisement for your books.

How many times have you picked up a book and read the back only to be disappointed once you got between the covers? I have several books that sit on my shelves as monument to the misleading back copy. I know I should read the back then immediately open to the first page and read that crucial first paragraph. If the first line/paragraph doesn't grab me I shouldn't buy it...but I do, because I'm a sucker for books. Especially books that take me to distant worlds, or lands filled with magic, or some twist of reality that puts our known world on its ear.

When writing my own blurbs, I try to find that one key element that sets my book apart from others, that will make it stand out, or illustrate the emotional impact the plot has on the characters. Does everyone do this? I don't think so. Or perhaps the one's writing the copy are not the same one's writing the book and therefore there isn't that same emotional committment to selling the story that is actually there when the author writes their own. It's very frustrating to be hooked by a blurb and then read the book and discover the blurb had it all wrong. Why do publishers allow that to happen when the book goes to the shelves? I've not been able to figure that one out. Here's a prime example:

I read a sci-fi novel about six months ago that had been on my shelves for a couple years. Though I loved the book, I kept going back to that crucial flap copy and rereading it...something didn't sit right with me...then it hit me. Not only did the flap not have the hero's name spelled as it was in the book, but the hero and heroine didn't meet in the manner that the copy said they did. It was totally wrong!!! Don't they have people checking these things before it goes to print?
I never considered myself a perfectionist, but I guess on some things I am. I want my characters on the front cover to look like the one's discribed in the book, and I want my copy to be a true representation of content.

Anyone else have a peeve about this topic? Maybe we should start a support group.


1 comment:

Skylar Masey said...

I've heard quite a few people describe faux pas' like this! I wish the pub houses would listen. Two bad ones I've heard about was where a hero had 3 arms on the cover! (And he wasn't an alien.)Plus you've got to hate it when you ratchet up the tension with a secret but the publisher actually blabs it to the reader on the cover blurb in the header!

I think a lot of the problems come from who they get to write the blurb (editor/assistant/author). I think the fact that your sci-fi books blurb was way off is horendous! I'd bet that it was written before the final edits were typeset. And/or someone grabbed the original version vs. an updated copy.

And as far as covers go, until you're established, I've heard there's no sense complaining. Most of the time first and second books fall victim to recycled artwork with/without a tweak here and there. But in the end it's all about saving the publisher money. If they can't bank on your book earning itself out, why risk shelling out more for no return?

And don't get me started on the number of typos I've found! Argh!