How to Speak Blurb: a translation guide
You pick up a bunch of books at random. The blurbs claim that they are ‘A hilariously trenchant romp’, ‘Breathtakingly original, written in rhapsodic prose’, and ‘Lyrical, charming and heartbreaking’. Do you wonder if you have stumbled across a cache of literature representing the pinnacle of human artistic endeavour, or do you think, ‘These all look pretty average’?
Some books are indeed breathtakingly original, brilliantly written, wonderfully charming, or even life-changing. Let’s face it, most aren’t. But publishers still have to put some sort of something on the back to make people spend money. ‘Pretty good, will pass the time pleasantly’, while honest and perfectly respectable, isn’t going to get past Marketing. And thus we end up with ever-increasing blurb inflation, where the starting point for a mildly amusing book is ‘hilarious’ and trying to convey that it’s actually, really funny requires a specialist thesaurus.
So, here’s a (not entirely serious) translation guide to blurb-speak.(Please note, this doesn’t mean that these words below aren’t sometimes used with soul-deep sincerity. Just that, even when the book is merely okay, mediocre or full-on bad, some poor schlub still has to find something to say.)
I love those plotting translations. So true!
sorry, I’m laughing too much to comment!
You missed one:
Astonishing: I paid a huge advance for it and can’t believe it got signed off because we’ll only sell 200 copies.
Damn. Yes, true. And, indeed:
Remarkable: What the hell *is* this thing?
How about Engrossing: Plot disappears on pg5 and is never seen again so stop looking.
Important: A bunch of editors at the last house resigned rather than publish this, so we got it cheap
Timely and hilarious. 🙂
It’s even worse when it’s a self-published book and the blurb is written by the author.
Reblogged this on Taylor Grace and commented:
I have to thank Winter Bayne for finding this. Isn’t it hilarious? I laughed and laughed…so, of course, I thought of sharing it.
This is great:)