There’s an old saying that a lawyer who defends himself in court has an idiot for a client. Similarly, I don’t think writers should write their own blurbs. We’re too close to what we’ve slaved over for months or years. Better if someone else does it for us.

Last Sunday a fellow writer was asking me about blurbs, and I showed her the one I’d written on Amazon for the forthcoming book 88 North, as an example of how not to do it. Except mine wasn’t there anymore. The publisher had put a new one up there. ‘This is really good,’ my friend said, while I tried to see through the back of my phone to read what she was reading. When I got the chance to read it, I thought three things:

  1. It IS good
  2. Oh my gosh, there are some spoilers in there.
  3. It doesn’t matter, because it is good! 

The reason it doesn’t matter, is that I’ve noticed quite a few pre-orders for the book, which doesn’t come out until December. In fact, last night, pre-orders for 88 North actually briefly overtook sales of the other two books, 66 Metres and 37 Hours. 

Well, enough suspense; if you haven’t seen it, here it is (I italicised it):

The deadliest kind of assassin is one who is already dying…

As the radiation poisoning that Nadia Laksheva was exposed to in Chernobyl takes hold of her body, she knows she has mere weeks to live. But Salamander, the deadly terrorist who murdered her father and sister and tried to nuke London, has a new plan to ‘make the sky bleed’. Nadia is determined to stop him again, even if it is the last thing she ever does…

The only clue she has are the coordinates 88’North, a ridge in the Arctic right above what is known as ‘Putin’s pride’ – one of the largest oil fields in the world, three thousand metres below the ice.

If Salamander takes hold of the oil field, he could change the climate of the whole planet for generations to come. But can Nadia stop him before her own time runs out?

So, why is it good? 

  1. The byline (the deadliest kind of assassin…) is original and hard-hitting. You straightaway know that the stakes are high, and it triggers some sympathy for the assassin, not an easy thing to do.
  2. The global stakes are spelled out both in plain language (climate change) and more vivid prose (he will make the sky bleed).
  3. You know it’s part of a series, because Nadia clearly has history and has been through hell already.
  4. You get the feeling this is the last one, the ending (because it is).
  5. It gives a hint of both the book’s journey (the Arctic) and geo-politics ( ‘Putin’s pride’)
  6. You know it’s going to be a race between Nadia and Salamander.
  7. It’s well-written, and is ‘sensational’ (it made me want to buy the book!).

More generally, it answers that question that writers are often asked and get stressed over when they try to answer: ‘what’s your book about?’ Well, with this blurb, bang, it’s all laid out, it’s right there, and yet done in a way that is enticing without simply being a tease. The book is ‘what it says on the back cover.’

So, hat’s off to HarperCollins for doing a great job.

Right, back to editing 88 North, nearly done…