Please Stop Putting Spoilers In Book Blurbs

Book blurbs. They tease, they intrigue, they get us excited. Whenever I buy a book, I look at the blurb first. Point is – they matter.

I know the majority of authors have no control over their blurbs, so this minor rant is more focused on those folks who do decide what’s plonked on a book’s cover. So, please, can you stop with the spoilers?

Take Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower, for example. It’s blurb spoiled the reading experience for me because it (spoiler warning, I guess) revealed how the protagonist loses her village and family and is forced into an American dystopia.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

When unattended environmental & economic crisis lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death, Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling human destiny…and the birth of a new faith.

Parable Of Sower

By itself, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good hook, sounds interesting, and explains what the book is about.

The problem is, this doesn’t happen until nearly halfway through.

If a blurb describes an event in the story, I expect to read about it as soon as possible. Preferably in the opening chapter. I already know it’s going to happen, it’s the event that convinced me to start reading, so why wait?

Instead, by revealing such a major turning point, I was left wondering when the story I was promised was going to start. I was bored and frustrated.

I understand there’s a lot of pressure to write a blurb that convinces people to buy the book, but revealing something like that demonstrates no confidence in the story and weakens the reading experience. It’s unfair to author and reader.

A blurb shouldn’t reveal anything the first chapter doesn’t. Uprooted by Naomi Novik has a great blurb. It summaries the important points – Wizard. Check. Enchanted forest. Check – and hints at what’s to come. It reveals nothing past what happens in the first chapter. The rest of the story is left for the reader to discover.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she is everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes.

Uprooted

While I wasn’t 100% happy with everything that happened in Uprooted, I had a lot more fun reading it than I did Parable of the Sower. I was surprised by each twist, new character, and by how the story evolved. I felt like I was discovering a story, rather than waiting for one.

A blurb should benefit the book, not detract from it. It shouldn’t spoil anything past the first few chapters. And if nothing blurb-worthy is happening in the opening chapters, maybe those chapters shouldn’t be there.

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