One of the essential elements for a successful in epublishing is a killer book description, and I think I’ve got a pretty decent one for Bringing Stella Home.  However, I could use some feedback, so if you could read it and tell me what you think, that would be great. Here it is:

It is a dark time for the galactic empire. Rebellions at Tajjur and the New Pleiades sap the empire’s strength from within, while hordes of spacefaring Hamiji warriors from the outer reaches sweep ever closer to the Imperial capitol, slagging entire worlds in their wake.

When the Hameji forces conquer his homeworld, young James McCoy runs away to rescue his older brother and sister, Ben and Stella, from their grasp. Though he faces an enemy undefeated in battle and feared throughout all of inhabited space, James will stop at nothing–not even death–to get his brother and sister back.

Things start to look up when he meets Danica Nova, a Tajji mercenary captain who takes him in and becomes his mentor. James reminds Danica of her own brother, whom she failed to protect when the empire slaughtered her family years ago. Now, she hopes to find some redemption from her demons by saving James from his own.

Unfortunately, neither of them realizes that Stella has become a concubine to the main Hameji overlord–and that Ben has been brainwashed and made into an elite shock trooper in the empath squadron sent to hunt them down.

So what do you think?  Too long, too confusing, too cliche, or too boring?  The genre (if you can’t tell) is space opera / space adventure, so I’m hoping it will appeal to fans of Orson Scott Card, C. J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold, Star Wars & Star Trek, etc.  It’s also got a slight military science fiction bent to it, though I wouldn’t presume to be qualified to write true military sf.

In unrelated news, I recently did an interview with Charlie of Playground51, which appears to be down for some reason (the link is on my Blog Tour page above).  Topics discussed include how I got the idea for Genesis Earth, which parts were inspired by real life, and thoughts on book promotion.  Hopefully the site will be up again soon!

Also, I’m thinking it’s time to do a major overhaul of my blog template.  As much as I love the current one with the purple stars and nebulae, I need something with two sidebars so that my books don’t push everything else to the bottom.  If you have some ideas for a good WordPress template that still keeps the sci-fi feel of this one, please let me know!  I’m very much open to suggestions.

Finally, since the Borders liquidation is all over the news, I thought I’d share my $.02.  It’s sad, certainly, but I don’t think that the fallout will be nearly as gloomy as Joshua Bilmes claims.

Corporate-run big box stores are certainly on the way out, but there will always be a market for good stories, and in many ways the new ebook technology is causing that market to expand at a wonderful rate.  So while the predictions of the print death spiral appear to be coming true (David Gaughran did a great post recently on that), new models will emerge–indeed, are already emerging–which will fill the vacuum.

The thing that gives me great reason to hope is that these new business models give so much power back to writers.  Instead of relying on the mercies of large media corporations to build a viable career, we can now make a living by publishing independently or going with any number of small independent presses.  Readers have more choices and writers have more options.  It’s glorious.

If anything, the Borders bankruptcy has confirmed to me that I’ve made the right choice to go indie, rather than wait for New York to anoint me before launching my career.  Will I ever go with a traditional publisher?  I’d like to someday, but I no longer feel dependent on the old system to accomplish my dreams.  Instead, it’s my readers who will decide my fate, and that’s exactly as it should be.

So thanks for reading!

7 Comments

  1. Notes on back of the book dealie:
    First sentence feels cliche, and the first paragraphs is a bit clunky.
    Is it Hamiji or Hameji? I see both.
    Don’t think we need all these proper nouns.
    Slagging is a strange word to me.
    James McCoy… Isn’t he from Star Trek? ._.
    The second paragraph sounds like the point of the novel.
    Third paragraph seems to be telling me too much. It’s starting to sound like a complete plot summary at this point.
    Is the story just as much about Danica as it is James? That’s the impression I get.
    Next paragraph is too much–I think this is stuff the readers should find out when reading the book, right? These sound like big events in the plot…
    Empath squadron doesn’t mean anything to me.

    My personal opinion is less is more. I want to be intrigued, and I want to know what makes this book different from all the other sci-fi books out there. And I’m always a little bothered when the back of the book will give away stuff that happens like two-thirds the way through the story. I don’t want a full summary of the entire book–I just want to know what sort of book I’m getting into.
    Who’s the main PoV character? What’s the main conflict? What’s the tone of the story? What is a really interesting element of the book to pique my interest?

    And now I’ve written way more than I intended.
    And bummer about Borders. I thought it had shut down a long time ago though.

  2. My editor and I were talking about this today (not your book–the death of print media). Neither he nor I are terrified of it, as we are both writers and know that people will always want written content, no matter what format it comes it. But it does cause some unrest. What direction does one prepare oneself to go in, if they are at my age, just launching a career in journalism and preparing to finish their first marketable novel? I guess it’s a good thing that I have a few years still to see how everything shakes out.

  3. Kristy Stewart

    I’ll agree with Cholisose in saying it’s too long. The first paragraph is backstory. The second paragraph is where the story starts, and the third paragraph feels like a detour. Even when books are balanced equally between two characters, it’s often hard to keep that same balance in a blurb and still hook a reader. It might be more effective to focus solely on James for the blurb. He’s who you start the story with, I assume, so he’s a good candidate for the hook. A few comments about specific bits:

    “It is a dark time for the galactic empire.” Too cliché, especially because now I think it’s Star Wars, and it’ll take some pretty hard work to convince me otherwise.

    As a verb, “slagging” generally means criticizing or going slowly. So though I know what you want from that sentence, it’s not because of that word. Maybe its usage is different in space opera, but in a blurb, it’s a bit confusing.

    He runs away from what?

    I’m going to post a different version of your blurb. It’s hardly stellar, but I think it hits a slightly better rhythm (basically I remove the backstory and the “detour” for Danica). It cuts down on the new words/terms the reader has to know for your blurb, which shrinks the learning curve. Just an idea to give you something else to think about:

    “When ruthless Hameji forces conquer his homeworld, young James McCoy runs away to rescue his older brother and sister, Ben and Stella. Though he faces an enemy undefeated in battle and feared throughout all of inhabited space, James will stop at nothing to get his family back. He finds a mercenary captain to mentor him, and with her on his side, James is sure he’ll be ready when he picks a fight with the Hameji. He’ll let nothing—not even the surging rebellions in the New Pleiades—stand in his way. [Side note–that parenthetical aside between the dashes is just a way to try to incorporate bits of paragraph 1 into the actual story part. I don’t know if it makes sense in context.]

    But Stella is now a concubine in a Hameji overlord’s household, and Ben has been brainwashed to be an elite shock trooper in the squadron sent to eliminate James and his mentor. James thinks nothing can stop him—not even death—but just how far is he really willing to go to bring Stella home?

  4. I agree with the two. Cut the first sentence. Too long.

    Also, Joe, I started a blog where I write about studying to get my Texas Real Estate License. If you think that sounds boring–you’re right! But, check it out if you’re ever on the internet and it is failing to capture your interest.

  5. Thanks for the feedback, guys! I really appreciate it. And the blog actually looks interesting, Steve. It just needs more zombies.

    What do you think of this revised blurb?

    When the brutal Hameji warriors conquer his homeworld, young James McCoy runs away from home to rescue his older brother and sister, Ben and Stella. Though the Hameji are undefeated in battle and feared throughout all of inhabited space, James will stop at nothing to get his family back.

    Little does he know, Stella has become a concubine to the Hameji overlord–and Ben has been brainwashed and made into an elite shock trooper in the squadron charged with hunting James down.

  6. I like the revised blurb! It’s shorter, it also goes full circle and gives us hints of things to come.

    As for Borders–in a way I don’t mind, they dug their own grave with all the mistakes they’ve been making these past few years. But on the other hand, now I have no bookstore in town.

    But on the other hand, I have a Kindle now, so who needs a bookstore? lol. And we do have a USED bookstore for my paper needs.

  7. I like the revised blurb as well–I feel like there needs to be one more line at the end… like a super hook.

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