Exploiting You: Blurb Nita (Rev.) (Rev. Again) (Rev. Again)

I am swamped today, but I stopped to read the Book Bub e-mail and remembered that Nita still needed a blurb. This one is awful. Fix it, please.

Detective Nita “Spooky” Dodd protects and serves Demon Island, a definitely non-supernatural island amusement park/tourist trap that is flooded every summer with drunk people in green make-up pretending to be demons, or as Nita calls them, asshats. When Nick Giordano shows up in the off-season claiming to be (a) dead and (b) next in line to serve as Devil in Hell, Nita dismisses him as an early asshat. But as the evidence piles up, Nita is forced to reconsider all her assumptions about reality in general and about Nick in particular. And then she finds out that even she is not what she thought she was. It’s a damn good thing the Devil has her back . . .

The Devil in Nita Dodd

A little bad can be very good.

Yeah, that last line in particular sucks. But I know you will all have MUCH BETTER ideas. You always do.

Second Pass:

Detective Nita Dodd protects and serves Demon Island, home of The Devil’s Playground, a definitely non-supernatural amusement park/tourist trap, so when Nick Giordano shows up in the off-season claiming to be (a) dead and (b) next in line to serve as the Devil in Hell, Nita thinks he’s either a conman or a crazy. But as the supernatural evidence begins to pile up and people keep trying to kill her, Nita begins to reconsider her idea of reality, along with her feelings for the Devil she knows.

The Devil in Nita Dodd

A little bad can be very good.

Third Pass, 57 words (not counting title):

Detective Nita Dodd protects and serves Demon Island, site of a definitely non-supernatural amusement park, so when Nick Giordano shows up claiming to be (a) dead and (b) the Devil, Nita thinks he’s a conman. But as the supernatural evidence piles up, Nita reconsiders her idea of reality, and with it her feelings for the Devil she knows.

The Devil in Nita Dodd

Fourth Pass: 50 words, still not right:

When Nick Giordano shows up on Demon Island claiming to be (a) dead and (b) the Devil, Detective Nita Dodd thinks he’s a conman. But as the evidence piles up that reality is not what she thought, Nita has second thoughts, especially about the Devil she’s just beginning to know.

OR

When Nick Giordano shows up on Demon Island claiming to be (a) dead and (b) the Devil, Detective Nita Dodd thinks he’s a conman. But as evidence piles up that the supernatural is real, Nita reconsiders her assumptions . . . especially the ones about the Devil she knows.

Also, latest collage:

33 thoughts on “Exploiting You: Blurb Nita (Rev.) (Rev. Again) (Rev. Again)

  1. Er. Word salad. Maybe even word soup. Even though I have limitations too, I feel a need to stand to one side and just point and snigger.

    Where people are frequently calling Nita “Spooky” as a nickname that she responds to – negatively OR positively, dump that. Even if people describe her as spooky, it doesn’t mean she identifies as such. I feel the blurb has to identify characters so we’d empathise with them, “Spooky” alienates.

    You left us this roughness to play with, like puppies tugging on a fat knotted rope, but “asshat” is just low-hanging fruit. Cut.

    Since we are keeping occupied, here’s my take on something blurb related. I tend to assume that blurbs written in first person of a main character mean that the whole book is first person, so I shelve that book immediately. It took a friend lending me a pile of books, in which such a previously rejected book sat, for me to I realise that the book was in third person.

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  2. First thought is that last line: A little Hell can be Heaven. Maybe still too cheesy. But a different flavor of cheese 😉

    And I’d have to disagree w/Sure Thing on “Spooky.” That makes me wonder why she has that nickname, and if she likes it or hates it, but it doesn’t alienate me.

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  3. The current blurb has good bones, it just needs a little tightening and tweaking. And I actually like that last line.

    Something like:

    Detective Nita Dodd protects and serves Demon Island, a tourist trap flooded every summer with drunks in green make-up pretending to be demons. The off-season is supposed to be Nita’s quiet time but with an earnest new partner, locals dropping like flies, and a man claiming to be the next Devil poking his nose into her investigation, she could use a drink herself.

    When Nick Giordano shows up declaring that he’s (a) dead and (b) next in line to serve as Devil in Hell, Nita dismisses him as another tourist. But as the evidence piles up, Nita is forced to reconsider her assumptions about reality in general, Nick in particular, and herself most of all. It’s a damn good thing the Devil has her back . . .

    The Devil in Nita Dodd

    A little bad can be very good.

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  4. I agree and disagree with the “Spooky” part. I think it is important to indicate that she is spooky or otherworldly, but putting it in her name in the blurb makes it seem slightly comical (?) and that she might like it, which it is not and she does not. I don’t know how to marry the two happily.

    I would also want a hint more of the romance aspect, if I was picking up this book in a store and considering it. As it reads now, Nick might end up being an ally, but could at this point be a platonic one. And what is he helping her with, besides her swiftly changing world view?

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  5. I did some analysis on BookBub blurbs a while back. They almost never run more than 50 words. On the other hand, if it’s a back cover blurb, you’ll want it longer.

    That said, I’d trim “to serve” and “begins to.”

    I love it that you worked in “the Devil she knows,” in the second draft.

    And maybe, “A little bad can do a girl good.”

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  6. I reacted to the chattiness of the first draft and the cleanness of the second. I think blurbs need to be a fast read, and prefer them funny/wry with a teaser soupçon of the conflict. Which you do SO well. Here’s my cut-n-paste:

    Detective Nita Dodd protects and serves Demon Island, a definitely non-supernatural island amusement park/tourist trap that is flooded every summer with drunk people in green make-up and horny hats pretending to be demons. So when Nick Giordano [insert physical/stylistic description here–using the slick, polished (poreless?) wordage from past postings?] shows up in the off-season claiming to be (a) dead and (b) Satan’s fixer and heir apparent in Hell, Nita thinks he’s either a conman or a crazy. But as the supernatural evidence begins to pile up and people keep trying to kill her, Nita begins to reconsider her idea of reality, along with her feelings for the Devil she knows.

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  7. Blurbs. AAARGH!, I am struggling with my own right now. I especially love the end of your blurb. I tried to shorten the beginning,
    Here’s another slant.
    When Nick Giordano shows up in Demon Island’s off-season claiming to be (a) dead and (b) next in line to serve as Devil in Hell, Detective Nita “Spooky” Dodd dismisses him as an early asshat. Kin to the role-playing demon lovers who flood the island’s amusement park every summer.
    But as the evidence piles up, Nita is forced to reconsider all her assumptions about reality in general and about Nick in particular. And then she finds out that even she is not what she thought she was. It’s a damn good thing the Devil has her back

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  8. Detective Nita Dodd has no time for drunks or tourists so when Nick Giordano shows up in the middle of her murder investigation claiming to be (a) dead and (b) next in line to serve as the Devil in Hell, Nita thinks he’s either a conman or a crazy. But as the supernatural evidence begins to pile up and people keep trying to kill her, Nita begins to reconsider her idea of reality, along with her feelings for the Devil she knows.

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  9. I reacted to the chattiness of the first draft and the cleanness of the second. I think blurbs need to be a fast read, and prefer them funny/wry with a teaser soupçon of the conflict. Which you do SO well. Here’s my cut-n-paste:

    Detective Nita Dodd protects and serves Demon Island, a definitely non-supernatural island amusement park/tourist trap that is flooded every summer with drunk people in green make-up and horny hats pretending to be demons. So when Nick Giordano [insert physical/stylistic description here–using the slick, polished (poreless?) wordage from past postings?] shows up in the off-season claiming to be (a) dead and (b) Satan’s fixer and heir apparent in Hell, Nita thinks he’s either a conman or a crazy. But as the supernatural evidence begins to pile up and people keep trying to kill her, Nita begins to reconsider her idea of reality, along with her feelings for the Devil she knows.

    And Jeanne’s “A little bad can do a girl good”–yes!

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  10. There is so much that’s terrific in each of the earlier stabs. Here’s mine:

    Detective Nita Dodd solves crimes on Demon Island, home of The Devil’s Playground, an amusement park/tourist trap so transparent it’s sinful. So when Nick Giordano arrives in the off-season claiming to be (a) dead and (b) next in line to serve as the Devil in Hell, Nita suspects a con. But as people try to kill her and ample evidence of the supernatural materializes Nita reconsiders her reality, and the allure of the Devil she knows. Maybe a little bad can do a girl good.

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  11. I just noticed the Trump sons in your collage, realised they must be part of the inspiration for the Lemon kids, and just about fell off my chair laughing! Talk about truly inept evil minions…

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  12. If it needs to be fifty words, maybe you could just take out the snippet about the amusement park in the third blurb?

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    1. You know, it’s interesting when you start deconstructing blurbs, the things you hold on to.
      Obviously, Nita has to be in there as the subject of the first sentence because it’s about her. I think hers should be the first name anybody sees.
      Then Nick has to be in there to set up the romance, but he has to be interesting, not just a hunky billionaire (which he isn’t anyway).
      And then I have to get the supernatural in there to let people know because some readers do not like that.

      So Nita, Nick, romance, supernatural. Which means the amusement park doesn’t have to be in there. But I want it in there. Now I’m trying to figure out if it’s because I want the setting in there, or because I want to undercut the impact of the name Demon Island or . . . . But you’re right. That could probably be cut.

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      1. Does the amusement park play a major role in the story? Otherwise, it is the thing I stumble on with all the blurbs.

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        1. It does, kind of. There are scenes in it, but the big deal is that the whole island is playing this demon game to support the amusement park/amuse the tourists. Except it’s not a game for a lotof them. So I think the thing I keep snagging on is that idea that the island kind of winks the demon thing because of the park, but then underneath that . . .

          I need it in the story. Do I need it in the blurb, is the question.

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          1. You know, blurb 3 doesn’t actually point out that the amusement park is demon-themed. It implies the opposite.

            Blurbs 4 are definitely getting there. Both of them. I reckon you could tighten up 4b even more by taking out “the ones” from the last sentence.

            But now I’m stumbling over the title. Apart from its sexual reference that makes me snicker, “The Devil in Nita Dodd” bothers me a bit, because she isn’t part devil, she’s part demon. (Right? Or is she born to rule Hell alongside Nick? Hmmmmmmm.)

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  13. I quite like the third one, except that the sentences feel too long. For me, the whole thing drags a bit.

    I do like the “her feelings for the Devil she knows” ending. Not so keen on the “a little bad can be good” thing because Nick hasn’t struck me as bad so far. Nita and Button have, but not Nick. I like that your heroines are bad.

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  14. Late to the game, so I’m focusing just on the third version.
    1) I see what you did there with “protects and serves” rather than “serves and protects.”
    2) “and with it her feelings for the Devil she knows.” Ok, I’ve read this like five times and my mind still trips over it. It feels clunky but I’m having a hard time putting my finger on why (sorry). I’m assuming you want the words “feelings” to imply romance, but (and eep, offering my own words as suggestion, sorrysorrysorry) I wonder if it would flow better without it (“she reconsiders reality and the Devil she just may know”)?

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    1. It’s not so bad with blurbs. Writing somebody else’s story is bad. Writing a blurb is just marketing and most of the time the author doesn’t even do it. I like to because I’m a control freak, not that anybody here has noticed that.

      Yeah, that “with it” clunks.

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  15. You know one thing that I’m leery of, having read too many Book Bub blurbs, is the romance cliche trap. I want to let readers know there’s a romance, but I want to avoid all the romancey stuff that too many blurbs have. She’s not looking for love but can she resist this guy? He’s too hot to handle. They’re drawn together. Maybe this time . . . That stuff. At the same time, that stuff is what tells readers it’s a romance.

    I have always found, sometimes to my dismay, that if you start with a woman character and then add a man, people will assume it’s romance, which makes it bad when it isn’t. But this time, for once, it is. So I’m assuming that if I say, “Nita yadda yadda,” and then “Nick yadda yadda,” people will make the leap, especially if I imply that she’ll turn to him for help in that last sentence.

    I really hate the romancey stuff in blurbs. It makes all the books sounds alike.

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  16. I think you’re right. In a blurb that short, Nita + Nick = Romance. Maybe not Romance with a capital R, but that’s probably a good thing?

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  17. I have not been reading the posts about Nita to the best of my ability, with the exception of the last one (where I misunderstood what you wanted, sorry), so I’m reading the blurb as a non-knowledgeable reader, mostly. And focusing on v4, since that’s where you’re at.

    “Demon Island” confuses me — without the theme park explanation, it feels like this might be a horror novel. Maybe use murder scene instead? “When Nick Giordano, a witness at a murder scene, claims to be (a) dead and (b) the devil, Detective Nita Dodd…

    “Thinks” and “reconsiders” feel… not exciting, I guess. Abstract? Maybe “…Dodd is sure he’s a conman. But the evidence doesn’t lie, and as it piles up, she starts to suspect that neither does he.” Or not! But something that’s less cool and intellectual than thinking/reconsidering/assuming, and more fun?

    The Bookbub folks always write their own blurbs, though. It’s one of their selling points. And their fifty-word blurb of this book is likely to start “New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Crusie is back with an (adjective/adjective)”… Maybe hilarious romp? Snappy, fast-paced? Snappy, supernatural caper-comedy? Not to suggest that you want that kind of blurb, but you don’t need to stick to 50 words for their sake, if that’s what you’re doing.

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    1. They write their own? THAT explains why they all sound alike.
      Good point about Demon Island being confusing. Back to the non-supernatural theme park line.
      This isn’t for Book Bub, it’s just to get a blurb. Every little bit helps focus.

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    2. I was just going to say this about the BookBub ads–that they write them–in which case I think 50 words is too short, especially for back cover copy. And if that’s the case, I really like the last three sentences in the first version, especially ending in, “it’s a damn good thing the devil has her back.” To me, that speaks to both romance and friendship, partnership, loyalty, all that stuff.

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      1. There is a lot to be said for being short and pithy, but at some point, you start to lose the details that make the book individual.
        And now I want to go to look at the Book Bub blurbs again.

        Just to be clear, this was never for Book Bub, it was because I wanted a blurb. If I have a good pithy one to give my editor, I’ve given her a real head start on selling the book to the editorial board. Although since she’s pretty far up the food chain by now, that’s not as important as it once was. I think it’s a good idea to write as much of your marketing as possible, not because your editor isn’t good at it but because nobody knows your book like you do.

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  18. Detective Nita Dodd protects and serves Demon Island with her life. When Nick Giordano shows up claiming to be (a) dead and (b) the devil her paranormal radar goes wild.
    As her feelings for the Devil transform, will she sell her soul for a little fun?

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  19. I’m unlikely to be very helpful here. I’m simply going to agree with Sure Thing and say the asshat and Spooky seemed to be two things you should lose in the blurb. I did like how it got tighter in later versions. I like the last 2 versions quite a bit except that having Nick mentioned first really struck me since you had made sure Nita was mentioned first before. Regardless, I think I currently like 4a the best.

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    1. Nope. I do not own those images. It’s just visual notetaking so I can see the book at a glance. But thank you (g).

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