Fear Not the Suckage

So I have been working on our blurbs for the past couple weeks. Blurbs are the little things you read on the back cover of a book, or on Amazon, or on a web page, or on a blog, or on twitter, or on, as it turns out, every damn other place, to see if you are interested in enough to buy the book in question. These insidious little bastards – blurbs, not books, have pretty much infested every damn corner of our world, and despite being short tiny little things, they are apparently a Big Deal.

And after working closely with them for a couple weeks, if you hadn’t guessed it yet, I hate them. Like passionately. Extreme. Passion. Hate.

I feel like I’m in high school again trying to write in 200 words or less why I’m important enough to go to college. Not just any college mind you, YOUR college. What makes me good enough for you. And how can I prove that to you, in 200 words or less.

And I have to tell you, even though it’s been twenty years since then, I still have the same gut reaction to that question as I did then.

What makes you good enough?

Fuck you. That’s why.

*loud exhale* Breathe, Joe. Breathe.

Okay. You know what, that felt good. Feeling a whole lot better now.

Truth be told, I’ve been having a pretty difficult time with them. I’ve written and rewritten them so many times, I can still see the afterimages of them when I close my eyes. And I don’t know why it’s so damn difficult. They’re just little summaries of our work, aren’t they?

I can already hear all the copywriters in the world out there clucking their tongues. Yes, yes, I hear you.

It turns out, they’re not just summaries.

They are, in fact, some horrible mythical modern day chimera of story, concept, marketing, and as far as I can tell, pure evil.

And if you are thinking, wait, has Joe not figured it out yet?

Then you are right, dammit. *weeping* Oh god, you are right….



Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn, who is one of the most successful and prolific authors out there helping other authors get off their feet, did this piece (albeit in 2012) about Mark Edwards and Louise Voss, co-authors of thriller novels.

Other than being a team of co-writers, which I believe makes them instantly awesome and likeable (no bias), there is a fascinating story on their twelve year journey of becoming successful writers. There is a great list of things they did to accomplish this feat, none of it luck, but here’s the one that struck out to me the most.

“The blurb is the most important thing and Mark is a copy-writer. He continually tweaked the Product Description. He studied the books in the Top 10 and tried to work out what it was about them that set them apart. He rewrote the blurb and literally sales doubled.”

My first reaction?

Blurbs are “the most important thing”? Oh God! Of fucking course they are! Followed by stress. Followed by panic. Followed by more desperate attempts to find the magic great and all-powerful blurb. The one blurb. The one blurb to rule them all. Which of course met with more failure and more stress.

And then, actually, I noticed something. He kept tweaking the product description. While it was out and published. While people were reading and buying it. AFTER it was out. For months. Until he got it right and sales took off.

AFTER it was out. That’s the part that was a game changer to me.



The truth is, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in our failures, in our inability to get things just exactly the way we want them to be in our head. And it’s easy to get discouraged, because we want to get it right all the time.

We can’t. We won’t.

The good news is, we don’t have to.

We can suck as long and as badly as we want. Even when it looks like we’ve missed that one great opportunity or moment to show how greatly we don’t suck.

And it hurts when it does. And, of course, we’re disappointed.

But more opportunities will come. They won’t all be the same opportunities. But they will come. And they’ll keep coming just so long as you stay in the game.

Keep trying. Keep sucking.

I’ll be there right alongside you.


See you next week. Til then.

Stay tuned. Stay frosty.



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