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Lost in Romance #18 - It’s what’s inside that counts…isn’t it?

1 month ago • 1 comments

Time and time again we are told ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’…well, not always, Ladies! This week the fabulous Clio Cornish, Editorial Assistant for Cherish and Modern Tempted, tells us why sometimes it’s actually what’s outside that counts, too… 

Every avid reader knows not to judge a book by its cover… although some of the delicious heroes found on the front of your average Mills & Boon can make that tricky! But what about judging a book by its back cover? After all, whilst a picture tells a thousand words, a brooding sheikh can only go so far – sometimes, we’ve really got to know what to expect from a story – and that’s where blurbs come in!

Cover copy is one of the most important sales tools we have – and writing it is one of the things which makes my job (which, let’s face it, is pretty dreamy all round) so fabulous! But these bite-sized renditions of super-charged romances need to be just as evocative as the thing itself… and doing justice to a sensational Mills & Boon in just 100 words? That can be a lot easier said than done!

We’ve all had that moment where we’ve read the back cover of a book and instantly flipped it back over, desperate to dive straight in after being given a taste of what the book has to offer – but what really does make a compelling, exciting, irresistible blurb? Here at Romance HQ, we love exploring new ways to draw readers in – but one thing you’ll always find at the top of one of our blurbs is an arresting shout line! Designed to captivate, fitting all that passion and intensity into just a few words is a challenge – but it’s one the Harlequin editors relish! Some of my favourite examples are when a quote is lifted directly from the book itself – what better way to introduce a character than to let them do it in their own words?  Whether it’s finding that perfect quote, or that perfect adjective, writing a sizzling shout line takes time… but of course, all Romance fans know that finding ‘The One’ makes it all worthwhile!

However, those dazzling few words are only a starting point. Our readers need to have just a little more detail before delving straight in…a glimpse of their hero and heroine across the room, if you will, before being dropped right into the whirlwind of their romance! But just as each Mills & Boon read is a sparkling, unique read, our blurbs can do so more than just introduce the story.

We have heaps of fun devising new and intriguing ways of introducing a plot: whether it’s a new format, a first-person perspective or a dose of suspense, we love to sell our stories in exciting and innovative ways, and some of the best blurbs are those which turn formality on its head. After all, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as falling in love… so why should these blurbs be any less so?!

As editors, we know that the back cover can be a deal breaker for our readers: if the tantalising title is love at first sight, then these deliciously teasing blurbs are our fabulous first dates. And just as you’d prepare for the first date of your dreams with exquisite care, our blurbs lines are never underdressed!

But what sells a book for you? Is it an eye-grabbing cover, an unforgettable title, or a blurb you can’t refuse? We’d love to hear what you think!

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Alicia • 1 month ago
Interestingly, at the IASPR conference, there was an academic paper on paratexts and romance (paratexts being the blurb, cover, title, acknowledgements intros etc - essentially anything that isn't the actual story). It was highlighting how romance readers have a very specific understanding of these paratexts, and how just by looking at a cover or a title, they can immediately understand what the book itself is going to be like!!

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