Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.
What If Bloggers Had Blurbs?
Blurbs provide a comparative and summative look over-and-beyond the synopsis for marketing purposes; often downgrading the brand to stand on its own. What if blogs, booktube, booklr, bookstagram, and the people behind these brands blurbed the content they write?
Read the following with a movie trailer voice:
From the author of He Said, She Said comes a new discussion challenging the vision and complacency of book blurbs in literature. Equal parts persuasive, satire, and snark, thoughts and afterthoughts, delivers a direct hit to the rhetorics of marketing.
Pretty ri-damn-diculous, right?
Synopsis blurbs are notorious for lumping everything under the same umbrella as the next “someone” or “certain book title”. I’m sure you’ve seen many of these comparisons made; extending into the realm of substitutable products. I’m not downplaying the possibility to say “this book shares some similarities to book-title-here” after you’ve read the book. The point is that it doesn’t set the precedent of “A is going to be like B” prior-to. Anytime you hear a “next John Green” or “fans of Hunger Games” so much detail becomes lumped into one bulk catch-all term. Yes, propping up a book up against another can help build traction, but it also dilutes the possibility to become a self-sustaining entity to leave the shadow that’s being cast onto it.
Then I had this thought: what if book bloggers (or BookTubers/Booklr-ers/Bookstagrammers) had blurbs to market themselves (e.g. branding) or their content (e.g. new multimedia)?
Imagine if you came across any of these:
(All links reference back to their respective blogs. I tried to come up with representative examples of the average blurb.)
Internationally trending blogger, Jenny in Neverland, captivates readers with a new blog on Disney—princesses who book shimmy, princes who slay the hashtag, and a new twist on anthropomorphic sidekicks that connect us all.
Caught Read Handed meets Brandie is a Bookish Junkie in this compelling new blog rich with opinion, sass, and unwavering focus. (Written about: Confessions of a Book Geek)
From the minds behind 2014 Curator & Curatee nominee Oh, The Books! comes a new intricate blog that weaves robust indexing with the imaginative power of The Bookish Games about a community’s sound reverberating through the voices of many.
Bookish and Awesome is an upcoming voice of diversity melding sensitivity with creative penmanship to deliver a punch of poignancy along the same road as Awash With Wonder and Pop! Goes The Reader.
Readers who love Girl in the Pages and Love Thy Shelf will enjoy this incredibly honest blog post about the literary foods that bind us all: Chipotle. (Re: Chipotle Burrito Bowl Book Tag LOL)
Fans of Word Revel’s bookstagram will tear through the ambient glow of heritage and home in Joyousread’s newly inspired collection of book porn.
With shades of The Quirky Reader and Chasing Faerytales, this powerful new feature from Clockwork Desires illuminates the players caught in the game of blogging.
From the acclaimed author of I’m an EXO-L Groupie comes XingSings, an unflinching love story about past obsessions intertwining with the realities of waning interest. This insightful debut is a profound exploration of communities, memes, and a blogger at the heart of it all.
A New York Times best-twittering blogger brings fiery passion to life in this new Young Adult blog perfect for fans of Bookish and Awesome and Deadly Darlings. (Written about: Oreos & Books)
From the down under comes a refreshing new voice in the vein of Brett Michael Orr meets Josie’s Book Corner. Liam’s Library delivers a penetrating look at beauty within fantasy romance through compelling discussions chock full of honest wit and soulful vindication.
While some of them do sound pretty neat, it’s ridiculous if brands (and their voice by extension) start getting compared to one another in lieu of the reading ages or genres that typically define the content you see on their respective domains.
But for the sake of argument (because why the heck not?), what if voices in the community adopted this marketing tool?
As bloggers/booktubers/booklr-ers/bookstagrammers, we preach individuality; the acceptance of being yourself and embracing the difference and uniqueness of your voice in a sea of similar-yet-dissonant opinions. If this categorical emphasis on comparative branding were to occur in various forums of communication, who’s to say originality and identity exists separate to who those we’re being compared to?
Moreover, who would be the one to write these abstracts—you? The integrity just seems lost when you’re blurbing yourself for yourself. With the struggle to stay on top of your blogging game (or otherwise), the only one eager enough to fan your ego [realistically] is that brain of yours. But I digress.
See, the point isn’t that bloggers can’t aspire to on the same level as someone else…it’s that they aren’t automatically being dubbed a carbon copy on the get go. Even if you genuinely deem yourself similar to another brand, the relationship might not be reciprocated. If that were the case, then I’m the next Epic Reads or Book Riot or any other stellar site out there.
Heck, you can call me Goodreads.
The point I’m getting at is that if you draw parallels between book-blurbs and blogger-blurbs, and hold the constants of “drawing comparisons”, it simply marginalizes the voice behind the brand. While there’s a novelty and coolness to being compared to an icon, letting the voice of the story and content speak for itself ought to be the defining criteria of merit than blind judgment based on the baggage of claimed substitutable products.
The blogger brands/handles used in this post were pretty random (most were taken from scrolling through Twitter or Reader feeds). I attempted to be somewhat accurate with their descriptions though…sort of. You might not know of the other party referenced but that’s okay. So, yeah, by no means was I trying to offend anyone mentioned.
Some things for you to think about:
1) What do you think about blog-blurbing?
2) Which comparisons in book blurbing (e.g. book titles or authors) do you find are the most overused? How fair are those statements (do they ring true)?
3) For vanity’s sake, if you had to compare your blogging style to other people, who would it be? (You’re encouraged to write your own if you so please).
connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter | anotherafterthought // goodreads
This post is inspired the confusion I get when I read a blurb and the outcome is nothing remotely similar to it. And my brain. My brain is wonderful. I initially imagined this to be a feature to spotlight bloggers but I didn’t know how well received it would have been and/or my scope of bloggers is mostly limited to WordPress users.
61 thoughts on “[Think Aloud] – #20 – What If Bloggers Had Blurbs?”
What an interesting read! It really puts things into perspective how far publishers with go to market their books. I will say that I like when other authors blurb what they like about the book, but when it comes to comparison blurbing I absolutely hate it. Although some people find it flattering to have their work being compared to other huge successes, I in fact think all its doing is degrading your work. It sets the reader up with preconceived notions of what to expect. So yay to blurbs about content and nay to blurbs that compare.
Jesse Nicholas @ BooksatDawn
Glad you enjoyed it, Jesse Nicholas!
Just to play a bit of devil’s advocate: I still do wonder whether or not the authors who blurb the book have read the entirety or just a blurb of it. I’m not trying to discredit their words (because we’d never know) but it’s rather curious to me that some authors are more visible on book covers than others. How do they have all the time?!
When you think about it, what do authors do with all their free time when not writing or doing promotional tours. If I ever get published I will not give up my love of reading books. So I will naively say that they do actually read them XD
This made my night. So amusing, thank you for this post 😀
1. As hilarious as this was, if this happened in real life. I think there would be a lot of “WTF”‘s from the blogosphere at certain comparisons. Not because they’re BAD, but simply because it isn’t true. I like JG’s writing (John Green) but I don’t think his writing is similar to Rainbow Rowell. Period. And, I’m sick of all good contemporary YA authors being compared to JG. My reaction to that is immediately: Um. WTF. And I admire his work, and watch vlogbrothers. All your talk of comparison was just YES. YES. YES. MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY. PREACH. EXACTLY. EXACTLY, THOUGH. A I thought the blogger comparison was a creative way to demonstrate your point, whilst also benefittng your colleagues. (Traffic)
2. The one discussing fans of Word Revel and readers of Girls in The Pages is used most often as well as a blurb that’s saying for example (excuse my lack of creativity, I am tired): Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts’ thrilling rants and unique voice in memes, and sense of humor is sure to make him the next Epic Reads.
Total What. The. Fuck., right? Because who would make a comparison with your humor and rants between charts and quizzes. LOL. WRONG. As much as I love love LOOOVEEE Epic Reads, the comparison is out of the blue when you look at the majority of their content. The point of making that random comparison is to support my claim that they do not ring true usually which is aggravating to the author that is being compared.
3. Oh, God. I’m so new that I honestly can’t even. I do think yours would fit with Aimee at least! That was SOOO amusing, and how could I top it? Thanks, again.
How do you keep topping your previous discussion post? Each time I say “Okay. No one could get any better than this.” Your next post is just like “LOL. YOU WERE WRONG.” (Rhetorical question)
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Who defines the truth of blogger comparisons though? Surely if you think your style is similiar to someone elses, who’s to say otherwise? (Remember that superficial comment you made in the other post?) I’m just suggesting that if you feel a certain way, how can it be false, I guess?
I FEEL INSULTED THAT YOU DO NOT THINK I COULD EVER ACHIEVE TO BE OF AN EPIC READS LEVEL? (Although I did think of contributing for Buzzfeed–but that’s a completely different concern altogether).
But thank you [again] for these kind words. I think this one will be one of the better ones that kind of just happened. I need my brain to work overtime now to top this one though!
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Haha! No, dear, I meant that you could be above Epic Reads. WHY WOULD I INSULT
YOU? YOU RUN ONE OF MY TWO #1 FAVORITE BLOGS?! I THINK YOU’RE BRILLIANT? DID I NOT MAKE THAT OBVIOUS?!
Haha, good luck!
Oh. Oh. I see what you did there! 🙂 Thank you!… I think. You flatter me, kind sir. However, I also see the point of your post. But what can you do? I sometimes think it’s good to know if a certain book would fit a certain ideal (subjectively), but more often, I find the marketing machine doesn’t really do their job well. I know they’ve led me to a world of disappointment many a times before.
Someone should do this ‘If you like….then you’ll like…’ thing for bloggers, because I think it’ll be helpful. I’m always looking for bloggers to follow. 😉
Yeah, like how about that freaking The Deal shit? Wait–that was just poor marketing from yours truly LOL.
I thought about something like that but I wouldn’t really know how to flesh out that feature to make it sound legit (because if I’m being honest–it’s really difficult to keep up with 129831297312893712 personalities in the blogosphere to make a sound judgment).
If anyone could pull off blog-blurbing, 10/10 would say it’d be you. I honestly don’t have any problem with book blurbing though it can be a bit straining (re: every book out there that’s been dubbed as the next Hunger Games or Twilight). I think it’s a clever marketing tool to draw in readers. I mean, I wouldn’t have found some of my all-time favourite books if it weren’t for those tedious blurbs.
Your words are too kind, Migsy! (It feels weird to use this nick as I haven’t done so in a while.)
I think the hope is that the market isn’t completely saturated with “next Green” or “next Hunger Games” especially when it’s gotten to the point where that catch-all name is basically suggesting the next great contemporary or dystopian read. The use isn’t the same thing as actually saying “oh this book actually deals with cancer” or “this book has kids killing each other (which in this case really only relates to the baddie governments)”.
Wow. This is one heck of a genius blog post.
I’m happy that you enjoyed it (hopefully?)
Oh my goodness. Let me just say that is post is absolutely amazing. I can’t get over the greatness of your writing, and those blurbs were just so entertaining to read. If blurbs for bloggers ever became a thing, you’d be the one to write them, for sure.
LOL. I think I’d draw the ire of the blogosphere if I were to do this blog-blurb writing thing because my accuracy would be 0%. (But the prospect of that makes me interested now..)
BUT STOP IT–YOU ARE THE WRITER/AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE BETWEEN THE TWO OF US.
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As I already told you, I’d call you Goodreads but we both know you’re more like Rotten Tomatoes.
So, okay. Not only did I get my own blurb, my brand was used in a blurb. How fantastic! This is probably my favorite thing in the internet right now! I mean, these blurbs are incredibly entertaining. And not to fuel your ego more than necessary but WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT SUCH A THING? Only Joe. And, yeah, sure, your brain may or may not be wonderful.
Just to play devil’s advocate (see what I did there?), though, I think blurring is a clever marketing tool. And there are instances where they ARE helpful. But I’m tired of seeing John Green and Rainbow Rowell on blurbs. I mean, the universe knows how much I love those two but, just, stop. This trend of comparing every single contemporary title to either or both of them has become so hackneyed out of sense and meaning. (And I recognize that my favorite Simon vs is blurbed just like this, BUT I forgive this. It’s amazing anyway.) The same goes for The Hunger Games.
Two thumbs up, dude! With a side of awesomesauce.
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This is perhaps why blog blurbing is a terrible idea: your excitement for being blurbed and what-not (while genuine) can feel a bit…I don’t know the proper word… ego-trippy? Like, just take this one sample of excitement being blurbed about and amplify that over the blogosphere. I’m obviously not trying to sell your moment short but just using it as an example of some thoughts that people may have?
But you make a good point regarding how certain authors (and their titles by association) have become a genre (e.g. contemporary) in itself; whereby the marketing isn’t really contrasting the similar stories (i.e. intersectional diversity or health illnesses) anymore than their baseline characteristics. Do these blurbs help? Perhaps. But surely they could be better applied…?
Haha this is absolutely hilarious, great blog post! I hope I’ll never have to see the day we start blurbing one another, though lol. I actually don’t find book blurbs very appealing, the easiest way to get my attention is a strong cover and buzz haha /shallow.
Maybe I’ll do this as a yearly thing….because I feel like we need to create one for you too LOL.
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Ooo I am very curious indeed to what mine might be 😂
So, I say you can’t top a previous post, then you come up with this genius piece of work. I’m cracking up! I’ll take ‘sass’ any day to describe me.
I think coming up with my own blurb would make me pretty egotistical and shallow – but I would totally do it to promote one of my friends. I gladly talk up my friends blogs so they get more fans and traffic because they be awesome. But to promote myself? Um, no. I’m not THAT full of myself. HA.
But, it’s interesting you bring up the book comparison thing, because I see it ALL THE TIME, and it drives me crazy. I love suspense, and every damn new suspense novel is being marketed as ‘the next Gone Girl’ or ‘the next The Girl on the Train’. I didn’t really like either of those books! So, why do that to me?! How about just woo me with your amazing synopsis and leave out the stupid comparisons? Gah. So annoying.
Now I am not opposed to books being compared to each other so that when I’m in the mood for a certain type of story *cough* Crossfire *cough*, I can go on Amazon, type in Crossfire, and it will give me other suggested reads that I may enjoy. So, wait…did I just contradict myself? Ugh.
So there is a difference between someone writing it about you and you writing it about yourself–is that what you’re saying? Even though you’d be happy to accept the glorified description of your blog (i.e. sass) but not if it’s something vanity wrote for itself? That’s interesting.
But even if there are comparisons being blurbed, how much emphasis do we (or should we) put towards those compared to this synopsis? They’re separate things and yet so many of us are like “cool, Gone Girl: must mean there’s a batshit crazy female lead…” when the actual story has no lead females… like, wut?
Interesting post…if a little scary. I don’t like the idea of blog blurbs but I don’t like book blurbs. The comparisons to other books like Hunger Games or Harry Potter drive me crazy because it sets up unrealistic expectations and usually is gimmicky or just a sales tactic. The blurbs you created certainly were entertaining though…I foresee a future in marketing for you…
This comment is kindness overload, Steph!
But yeah, I agree with what you’ve stated regarding unrealistic expectations, considering a percentage of the time, the book being compared to isn’t even remotely close to in content to the title being blurbed. (Oh how many examples I’m sure we could name where this has happened!)
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Comparisons on blurbs have become all the rage, and I agree that they’re often ridiculous. I have to say, though, that your witty blog blurbs actually make me want to read those blogs! (Guess I’m a slave to marketing after all.)
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Confirmed: we’re all guinea pigs to marketing!
I have officially been entertained, as is usual with your posts, which is why I keep reading them and coming back. I love the hilarity but also the brilliance of this. You’re correct in the integrity being lost if bloggers should happen to write themselves a blurb, but what does that say to the integrity of authors who write the blurbs for their own books? Hmm…something to ponder. While your blurbs are brilliant and entertaining and I can’t see it being well-received in the book blogger world, it does happen with huge blogs that post outside of the book world. Of course, it’s more in the lines of bait and hook the reader, which is essentially what a blurb is, really.
I hate comparisons, and if I see one more comparison to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, I shall hang up my reading glasses for life. Not really, but you get the point. Comparisons are the new trendy trend that have been around for a long time but have become so overdone.
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Wait, wait, wait! Have there been cases where authors have blurbed their own books using someone elses name? I guess it’s not a wild possibility but I’d never imagine people who would do that considering they’d be using someones brand like that (unless they pay royalties for that…?). Ahhh, that is an interesting thought, Kathy!
It’s funny that I chirp the use of blurbs when they are among the first things I notice about the book. I just think it’s negligent when certain books are dubbed as each other on the basis of genre alone.
The really funny thing is that you see so many next THG or Twilight not Harry Potter. I guess there’s too much weight in comparing it to HP.
Oh and I have to say that I’m super pleased that you did your research and KNEW EXO’S FANDOM NAME. :O Super chocolate double fudge brownie points right there. AND I’m not sure what you were thinking when you wrote “past obsessions intertwining with the realities of waning interest,” but you get sprinkles for that too.
I interned with a major publisher a couple years ago, and I noticed that the editors were much more hesitant to compare books to majorly successful books when they were talking among themselves. An editor would never tell their supervisor, for instance, that the book she just acquired was going to be “the next Hunger Games” because everyone there knew that comparison was too hard to live up to.
But these comparisons would definitely appear on promotional material outside of the company. My personal theory is that publishing houses think they need to compare the book to something that’s really well-known so a large number of potential readers will understand the comparison. People know what “the next Twilight” means. But how many people know what “the next Summer and Bird” means?
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That’s some weird dynamic happening in-house compared to what gets seen in the public. Thanks for the deets, Briana!
The weight is completely different though, I’d say. Whenever you see next Twilight, what do you think? Vampires? Mary Sues? Paranormal? Love Triangles? — it’s these things that ultimately carry forward to the book being compared. Then you have books like 50 Shades–which is a Twilight fanfic, no?–but how do the blurby-comparisons hold up then? IT’S NOT EVEN THE SAME THINGGGGGG.
Honest hour: I had to do some digging. By digging, I meant I asked Savindi LOL. I think we both know what I meant…since you started wanting to blog about one thing but changed to predominately books. Was I wrong in my blurbing?!
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Paranormal is my favorite genre actually. So I’ll always be a sucker for vampire books (with or without mention of Twlight), haha.
And nah, you were right! That is very close to the truth! I’ve only posted two nonbookish related posts. I haven’t really felt inspired to do it again yet. LOL, Savindi is my confidant when it comes to K-pop stuff. In some sense, I’m a closet K-popper irl. XD
I’m so with you Joey and your inspiration for this post. No seriously, the actual whole premise of writing a blurb to say a book is the ‘next something’ or this author is ‘perfect for fans of someone’ – it just takes away from what the book is about. It makes it another John Green, or Susanne Collins, and you shouldn’t do that. If you’re going to compare, compare genres, not people or books. I don’t know if my new blogging style is like anyone else’s – I think I’m quite stand out in what I do and say, and I’m happy with that, but if I have a comparison, I think it’d be someone more on the blogging than books side, you know? Such a great post, I’ll be linking you in my monthly community link-up! 😀
Preach! Part of the problem is definitely rooted in the umbrella assumption that if you claim something as “next J. Green” it’ll basically mash together everything in contemporary, health & illness, romance, etc. into a ball and have it digested by the potential buyer…and that’s no good. Not only do these genres offer much more, it’s basically pitting a niche title with an undiscovered title to not really give it the possibility to become more than what it’s typecast as.
Thanks for your interest in this topic and I’m glad you enjoyed it!
I usually dont read posts this long but this is hilarious! *thumbs up* XD
Glad you enjoyed it!
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I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who thinks that a lot of book blurbing comparisons are overused and kind of cliche. If I want to read “The next Hunger Games,” then I would read THG; similarly, if I want to read “The Next John Green,” I would simply read John Green’s next book.
Frankly, I hate comparisons, no matter how marketable they may seem. I believe that every book should be able to stand on it’s own without being dubbed as the next this or the next that. Unless, of course, it’s a copycat book–but those are already obvious.
Even if we take the core plot of these books, it’s also saddening to see that these franchises have eclipsed the stories of others (i.e. Battle Royale for THG). Like, where’s that comparison if you want to blurb about kids killing each other?!
This is pretty fun! I actually think a blog’s “About” page is a good place to get a lot of this information across. But I agree with you that a lot of people would think it odd if someone’s “About” page sounded a little too, shall we say, promotional. Comparing a blog to another, more successful blog as publishers do with books would also cause a lot of chaos. I think people would find it offensive. :p
Haha. I’m sure if I were to keep up this blog blurbing business, I’d have some fans for this but mostly people raging that they aren’t featured (because who can know “every” single blogger alive?) or are grossly misrepresented (which is pretty difficult to forecast considering people/bloggers change how they do things every day/post).
I am noticing more comparison style blurbs lately, and they not only offend me they often have little to do w/ the book being described. I often feel the need to address the comparison in my reviews to clarify for readers. I feel like those type of blurbs are aimed at the bandwagon-jumpers and the people who don’t have a sense of their own reading tastes.
Haha, the misleading blurbs are the worst; setting up those expectations only to completely (and I mean completely) miss the mark.
I’m not sure if this is just me but I feel like you really hit a fascinating point of discussion in this post in regard to the idea of promoting individuality while marketing ourselves. This is a common struggle/precarious balancing act in the book industry in general, right? We want to appreciate literature and stories and characters for their meaningfulness, their flaws and their quirks, the trials and tribulations they overcome, etc. but also we are forced to recognize that there are publishers pushing these novels at us so that they, too, can survive and prosper in our modern-day society. Your connection to book bloggers having blurbs stands out because it raises the interesting question of how much of what we write about is centered on the books vs. ourselves? I think it’s a mixture of both, but where do we draw the lines (or are there any lines at all?)
At this point I’m just rambling, but I will come back to this question sometime in the future after giving it more thought. Great post, Joey!
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I love this post! It’s such an interesting concept. I’ve definitely learned to ignore the comparisons in book blurbs — for me, they usually feel inaccurate, and mostly put there for sales. After all, it doesn’t have to be completely true, so long as it makes people buy the book!
I do think comparing just about anything is going to be tricky, though, because they’re all their own unique, individual things. You showed this really well with the blog blurbs — it feels SUPER weird when put in this context where we would be comparing ourselves to other bloggers.
This one of the best and most hilarious posts I’ve ever read! You’re so right on point. Publishing does so much comparison that it does get a little over done – “This book is Twilight meets Hunger Games with the Emotional Heart Warming Tension of The Fault in our Stars” WHAT?
I love how you blurbed the bloggers, I was dying with laughter. I loved this post and it was creative and on point.
This is absolutely hilarious! I thoroughly enjoyed all of your blurbs and will have to check them out. XD