Okay friends. We need to talk about something that’s been bugging me a long time. I CAN’T EVEN COUNT– hold on, this feels like something I need a proper soapbox for.
Hm, looks like I don’t own an soapbox. I’ll just stand on my desk, then. This will make typing hard but I will do it, in the name of justice.
I CAN’T EVEN COUNT how many back-of-book blurbs I’ve read in which the only mentioned female character is described as ~beautiful~ and nothing else.
“Dude McBroMan is a brilliant but troubled archaeologist who gets more than he bargained for when the beautiful Lady O’Hotstuff arrives with a mysterious fossil…”
That’s an example I just made up, but I read blurbs like that – so – damn – often. SO OFTEN. This isn’t an exceptional thing.
Is that really her most shining attribute? Is that really, of all the traits she has, the one most worthy of including in the blurb? Or– oh god, is that– is that her only trait????????
Maybe she’ll have another quality included. Beautiful and smart. Beautiful and kind. Beautiful and bent on world destruction. But always beautiful. Because god forbid an average-looking woman walk around like she has the right to be in a story!
Think about it. How often – except in romance novels – are male characters described on the back cover as handsome and nothing else? Almost never. Even handsome combined with other qualities is rare compared to women. Imagine if my example blurb went like this:
“Dude McBroMan is a handsome archaeologist who gets more than he bargained for when the brilliant but troubled Lady O’Averagestuff arrives with a mysterious fossil…”
Or what about…
“Lady O’Averagestuff is a brilliant but troubled archaeologist who gets more than she bargained for when the handsome Dude McBroMan arrives with a mysterious fossil…”
Now Lady sounds like a more rounded person, and Dude sounds pretty boring. The second one also sounds more like a romance blurb, because those are probably the only blurbs that call out a guy’s appearance like that.
I mean, if you’re trying to announce that she’s the love interest… Fine, I get that. But for the love of all that is literary, at least toss in another trait or two!
Perhaps it’s the publishers writing these blurbs and not the authors’ faults. But if you’re self-published, you get to control this. Your blurb is your one-shot chance to get someone curious about your book, and I for one want to read books about interesting people. A woman who is pretty and not much else isn’t interesting. So it’s in your best interest as an author to call out something besides her looks as her strongest feature on your blurb. If that’s her strongest feature, then please come closer so I can smack you with this how-to-write manual.
(P.S. Characters with “a dark past” or “a dark secret” are other blurb peeves of mine, but that’s a post for another day!)