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I’m no book designer and the cover blurb needs tweaking, but I produced this as further motivation to write the story. The blurb is far too long and it was my original attempt at a query before I started the story. So it is somewhat different from the pitch below, but it conveys the same message as the query example.

Lethal Journey publisher

Click on the cover to be able to read the full size version.

Note: the cover and back cover blurb is not the one that will be used. The cover and blurb to be used is at the end of the article.

Writing a thriller query/back cover book blurb.

I’m no expert, but the 5 years I have been writing thrillers, my overall learning curve is now off the scale and way north of where I started. Having said that, however much we learn, there is always room to improve and nothing we do can guarantee success. However, if I could start over, one of the first things I would have done was to research query letters, back cover blurbs and the art of writing a story synopsis, before putting my fingers to the key board to begin writing. ‘Why”? you may ask. ‘I write by the seat of my pants and it works for me.’

‘God luck,’ I say, ‘and long may you prosper.’ However, I would like to wager that 75% of writer’s block comes from writing without a plan. I don’t want to go into planning at this stage, but here’s why I think starting with at least a query and a synopsis helps in banishing writers block. From my own experience, I wrote 50,000 words for a thriller. Around the halfway mark, I ended up in a cul-de-sac with the plot and however much I tried to work it out there was no way to get from A to Z via P without a dreaded reveal. All that hard work ended up on the hard drive, where it will languish forever.

‘So how do you think the query may help?’ you may ask. Here is my take on the subject. Ask yourself if the kernel of an idea has legs for you to run with the story. The time commitment alone suggests that you owe yourself that thought.

‘But I’m thinking of self-publishing,’ you say. ‘What good is a query if I don’t want an agent to represent me?’ My answer to that is to ask why an agent asks for a query. And here, you can discount that they want you to suffer the trial as a kind of homework torture. The query you send to an agent is slightly different to the back cover blurb that the reader sees, but with the same result in mind. The aim is to create interest for them to read on. What I am going to propose is that the query as a tool will help you to develop your idea. Just as an agent reads hundreds of queries a week, a reader has hundreds of books to browse in a bookstore and thousands online, so constructing that query/cover blurb, is what will highlight your writing and skill in creating interest. By preparing a query in advance of commencing, it will stir your own interest and hone in on the basics of the plot that can be developed into a synopsis and then into the full story.

So how do we apply this to a thriller? Here is the way I approach the subject. Consider the following basics. It is not the only way to produce a thriller query and many agents–the same with readers — will have different opinions as to the interest the end product creates and the boxes it checks.

Here goes;

What is your entire story about in one or two tag lines?

Where is it set?

Who is the protagonist and what does he/she want?

What stands in the way of your protagonist getting what they want?

Who is the antagonist and what do they want?

Is there a mystery/secret to discover?

What is at stake that elevates the pitch?

Here is my latest effort for Deadly Journey, followed by my thoughts on why I constructed in the way I am presenting it to you.

—————————————-

Someone wants Rawlings dead. A cartel needs him alive for now, but in chains. Rawlings? He wants to deny them both. Someone has to lose.

D.E.A. Agent Kurt Rawlings has never given more than a cursory thought to what life is like for those criminals he has sent to prison. Even less so if every minute of the day those incarcerated face the fear of death at the hands of others. He wishes he had thought about it, because now he is living it himself.

Assailants, who hold a contract on his life, take Rawlings from the streets of El Paso. When a Mexican cartel buyout the contract, he is transferred across the border. At first, he doesn’t know who is holding him captive or why, but it becomes apparent that this is not a simple kidnap and ransom.

The cartel wants something from him. Something locked in his mind that they are willing to do anything to get a hold of, even if it breaks him in the process. All Rawlings wants, is to be reunited with his family. In captivity, he comes closer to discovering the dreadful secret of who is responsible for the original contract on his life. To confirm his suspicions, he needs to be free if he is to get to the truth and bring them to justice. It will be no easy task. Whoever wants him dead has a long reach and Rawlings’ captivity isn’t going to stop them. It’s going to take all his ingenuity to figure out a plan of escape, but his enemies are on a killing spree—and he’s next in the firing line.

—————————————

Okay, this one is on the long-winded side at 285 words and half a page. Different agents will ask for different lengths, but most want less than 300 words and no more than 1 page. If an agent wanted a shorter length then I would cut the paragraph after the tag lines and consider other cuts to reduce the certain reveals. But, for my purposes, I now have something to work with as the bare bones of a plot, to create a synopsis for me to expand into the full story and the essence a book cover blurb, with tweaks, for if I decide to self-publish.

The initial idea I had was that I wanted two antagonists, quite separate from each other as a means of setting the story apart from the usual one antagonist scenario, but, with one of them providing the overall mystery to solve, with a final chapter reveal as to his/her identity and motive. So I started with … Someone wants Rawlings dead. Of course, I can’t name him/her, or that would give away the reveal.

Someone wants Rawlings dead. A cartel needs him alive for now, but in chains. Rawlings? He wants to deny them both. Someone has to lose.

Rather than one sentence, I chose a number of tag lines that I felt summed up the overall story and conflict. Originally, I had: A gangland hit – A D.E.A. Agent kidnapped. A game of life or death. While this summarized the story I had in mind, I put it to one side as possible wording on the front cover for if I self-published. Basically, the tag lines in the query cover most of what I set out as bullet points above, with the exception of, place. We know what everyone wants, which give the stakes, who the MC is and that there is a likely mystery to solve as to who wants him dead. All I need now is to expand on what stands in his way in the elevator paragraph.

D.E.A. Agent Kurt Rawlings has never given more than a cursory thought to what life is like for those criminals he has sent to prison. Even less so if every minute of the day those incarcerated face the fear of death at the hands of others. He wishes he had thought about it, because now he is living it himself.

These lines serve a number of purposes, besides naming the MC and his occupation. For me it creates the MC’S emotional attachment to the story that will give the story its depth. It also serves to tell the reader that his imprisonment is what he will face as a substantial part of his ordeal. And maybe for them to wonder if they have ever given the same sort of thoughts to what it would be like for them if they were incarcerated and facing death.

Assailants, who hold a contract on his life, take Rawlings from the streets of El Paso. When a Mexican cartel buyout the contract, he is transferred across the border. At first, he doesn’t know who is holding him captive or why, but it becomes apparent that this is not a simple kidnap and ransom.

In this paragraph, we are given the setting. It starts out in El Paso and quickly ends up in Mexico. This also adds to the mystery of someone wanting him dead, with the introduction of the ‘cartel’ (unnamed) and with the MC Not knowing who they are or why they hold him. Further, it implies there is some ulterior motive, other than a kidnap and ransom for holding him.

The cartel wants something from him. Something locked in his mind that they are willing to do anything to get a hold of, even if it breaks him in the process. All Rawlings wants, is to be reunited with his family. In captivity, he comes closer to discovering the dreadful secret of who is responsible for the original contract on his life. To confirm his suspicions, he needs to be free if he is to get to the truth and bring them to justice. It will be no easy task. Whoever wants him dead has a long reach and Rawlings’ captivity isn’t going to stop them. It’s going to take all his ingenuity to figure out a plan of escape, but his enemies are on a killing spree—and he’s next in the firing line.

I think that by now the reader is getting the idea of the genre. This is my elevator pitch and one, which I hope spells out that it is a psychological thriller. The importance of this is that the author needs to know exactly where on the store bookshelf you would place your book to be of interest to those who would buy the genre. In this case, as I have said, it is a psychological thriller,  a sub genre of the thriller. It can have the traits of a mystery and the MC can use physical prowess to overcome his enemies, but the thrust of the narrative is that the antagonist/s seeks to destroy his mind and the MC uses his mental abilities to overcome his tormentors. In my elevator pitch, I have sought to raise the stakes to spell out what the MC faces and how high the stakes are. Even if it hasn’t grabbed the attention of an agent or a reader as yet, at least it has created an outline that I am excited to know how the story progresses for me to continue to the synopsis stage.

This is the blurb I settled on, with a professionally designed cover.

My thanks to RICHARD MAITLAND from authonomy with his input on the final blurb.

Deadly_Journey_print_wraparound_revised jpg

Click on the cover to be able to read the full size version.

DEADLY JOURNEY is a psychological thriller complete at 113,000 words. To be published shortly.

Useful links on queries.

Authonomy writers site. http://authonomy.com/forums/threads/114075/are-you-about-to-query-your-novel-/?pagenumber=66

Easy to join. Post your queries for other writers to make comment and participate with your own ideas. My own query above has had some useful input from members, for which I am eternally grateful.

Query Shark. http://queryshark.blogspot.com.br/

Worth a look. Read an agents take on how not to write a query, mixed in with a few good examples.

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Create Space and Kindle description, simple formatting in HTML examples.


      

I was humbled recently to be asked to do an author interview at the local University here in Brazil. I really didn’t know what to expect, so this was a learning curve for me.

They had sought me out after some of the English lit students had visited my web site. I have a section on my site, where I ask for help translating one of my shorts, Mystery of the Crimson Robe, to Brazil Portuguese. To date my site has had in the region of seven-hundred hits from Brazil, so this was a great opportunity for me to meet some of the people behind the page hits, and to put a human face on the the sites statistics. They were fully aware I was self published, so I was intrigued as to why they would want to interview me. But then thinking about it, maybe Lee Child or Stephen King, were otherwise engaged.

On arrival at the University, the Professora gave me a list of the twenty nine questions that the students would be asking and told me they would be filming the interview. I had five minutes to prepare and to say I was nervous, doesn’t adequately describe the fear I experienced. I was about to do an exit stage left, until the Professora told me the students were probably more nervous than me.

The interview lasted two hours. I soon learned that they had downloaded my short story books from Amazon etc and studied them. I thought afterward, it was the most rewarding, if not challenging experience I had encountered in my short writing career. I wasn’t expecting what transpired. I thought that was the end of it, but after the interview, they asked if I would return for a seminar in front of the entire English lit students. I agreed.

The week following the interview, I had a good number of the students join my Facebook page, including the University. One of the students emailed me and offered to translate one of my shorts for free and asked permission to make one of the stories into a video game. This project is ongoing.

A month later, I went back to the University as a guest for the seminar they were holding. The seminar included a number of topics, one of which, presented by Samuel, was the depiction of Alice in Wonderland in pictorial form through the ages, which I found very interesting. What surprised me was how much of the Portuguese language I understood. My sponsor for the evening, Magili Sampaio, took the stage to give her presentation, and I nearly fell of my chair, when on the Power Point screen appeared…... DECLAN CONNER-EDGAR ALLEN POE.

The presentation was in Portuguese, but basically she was saying that my work was on a par with Edgar Allan Poe. Magili thought that although my stories were contemporary and written in a different style, she considered my stories covered the same type of subjects and mindset.

Different book covers of mine kept popping up on the Power Point screen as they discussed the stories. To say I nearly fell of my chair is an understatement. To put the cream on it, Samuel had edited the film he had taken from the first interview and added Portuguese sub titles and played it back. At the end of the film they all applauded. There was a question and answer period, followed by group photo’s, one of which they have posted to my Facebook page.

So who is the Edgar Allan Poe guy? Well if I didn’t know about him before I do now.

Edgar Allan Poe – born, January 19, 1809. He is best known for his tales of the macabre and mystery, Poe was one of the earliest American writers of the short story and is claimed to be the inventor of the detective genre. He is also credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He is claimed to be the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. The financial aspect of his life; is one point on which I feel I definitely can share an affinity with him, besides our liking for bow ties.

All I can say is that I have never felt so humbled in my life and as a celebrity for a night (or two) if I never achieve anything else with my writing, then the experience will have made it all worthwhile.

O grupo.

 Released 7th December.

Exclusive to Amazon Kindle

Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006IYRQRW

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006IYRQRW

Amazon Germany https://www.amazon.de/dp/B006IYRQRW

Amazon France https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B006IYRQRW

Amzon Spain https://www.amazon.es/dp/B006IYRQRW

Amazon Italy https://www.amazon.it/dp/B006IYRQRW

Novelette

Details

There is a fine dividing line between sanity and insanity. Tiffany Morgan can’t be sure if she has stepped over that line.

A mysterious driver of an SUV mows down a young woman. Accident, or deliberate hit and run, she cannot be sure. In fact, she can’t be sure about anything in her life. She awakes in the hospital, only to realize she has no memory of her former life. The contents of her wallet draw her on a journey of discovery, together with a handwritten note, signed “D” and inviting her to a meeting.

The journey she takes leads to a bizarre turn of events on the information-super-highway and unexplained visions that lead her to think she is losing her mind.

Tiffany’s past contains a dark secret that is haunting her. She is desperate to find the key to unlock her memory. Maybe “D” has the answers to end her nightmare.

US RANK 01/01/2012

UK RANK 01/01/2012

  • ASIN: B006IYRQRW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #723 Free in Kindle Story

GERMAN RANK 01/01/2012


As an author and a reader, living in Brazil, I have to be a member of Amazon.com to buy books. Amazon charge an additional $2 over the .com price for every eBook I purchase. The same is true for customers who live outside their area in places such as Australia etc. I have never really been able to find out why they make this charge. Some say that it is to cover the whispernet charges for 3G kindles, but I fail to see this as I use Kindle to Computer downloads.

If you have a kindle, or you have kindle to computer or any other such device, there is no need to buy from Amazon. This is great news if you live outside the designated area of .com, .co.uk, or .com de. If you buy through smashwords you can download a Mobi file to view on your kindle, computer or device without the additional $2 charge.

Through smashwords you can download files in Mobi, ePub, PDF etc as shown below on the page of one of my books. Hide and Seek (Ghost story)

Cover for 'Hide and Seek'

Hide and Seek

Ebook By Declan Conner
$0.99 Rating: 1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star
(5.00 based on 1 review)
Published: June 03, 2011
Category: Fiction » Mystery & Detective » Short Stories
Words: 13667 (approximate)
Language: English

[add to library]

Ebook Description

Short story, with both American English and UK and Commonwealth English versions available in one eBook

Carl didn’t believe in ghosts.Unless you want to count the Holy one. That was until he had a dream of a young girl and he was invited to play … Hide and Seek. A seat gripping ghost story.

Tags

thriller, crime, suspense, murder, mystery, short story, ghost story, declan conner

Available Ebook reading formats:

You have purchased this book.

Format Full Book
Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser) View
Online Reading (JavaScript, experimental, buggy) View
Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps) Download
Epub (Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others) Download
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing) Download
RTF (readable on most word processors) Download
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don’t support .epub) Download
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices) Download
Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting) Download
Plain Text (view) (viewable as web page) View

Reviews

Review by: Kaye George on July 19, 2011 : starstarstarstarstar
Connor has Carl Jones take us on a train trip in an eerie fog. We never arrive at the intended destination, but chilling events whip Carl between reality and fantasy. Or is it fantasy? Connor keeps the reader guessing until a mystery within a mystery is unraveled.

 If you’re used to reading British punctuation, he has included a version for you also. A nice bonus. Check out his many other short stories available.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

********

My advice would be to always check to see if the book you want to buy is available on smashwords. Not all books will be available, but it makes sense to get more value for your $.

Other eBook catalogues where you can find my short stories.

Smashwords

Apple itunes ibooks

Note the Apple link above and below is the one I use for America. For other countries where you are a subscriber, change the “us’ to say “de” for Germany “uk” For the UK, “au’ for Australia. “ca” for Canada, etc.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781458086372              

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Diesel eBooks


DECLAN’S SHORT STORIES ARE AVAILABLE SEPARATELY AT SMASHWORDS

Download to buy here: 

 Smashwords

Apple itunes ibooks

Note the Apple link below is the one I use for America. For other countries where you are a subscriber, change the “us’ to say “de” for Germany “uk” For the UK, “au” for Australia. “ca” for Canada etc.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn978145086372

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Diesel eBooks

Amazon.com

Amazon.com de


Declan Conner has released the second of his not so short story series with a German, American and a UK translation in one eBook with internal links for the customer to make the choice of language. The Enemy Within. (Der Feind im Innern) is now available in all formats from kindle and smashwords. The smashwords distribution package means it will be added to the Apple, B&N, Nook, scrollmotion, Kobo and Sony catalogues in approximately 2 weeks from today. If you live outside the UK, America or Germany, then the best option is to download one of the multi formats for your device from smashwords to avoid the $2 wispernet charge from Amazon.

Der Feind im Innern (Eine Kurzgeschichte.) (Eine deutsche und zwei englische Versionen in einem E-Buch zusammengefasst.) [Kindle Edition]

Declan Conner
Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #1.785 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)ner (Autor)

            Nr. 5 in Kindle-Shop> eBooks> Belletristik > Kurzgeschichten & Anthologien

  • Nr. 82 in Bücher > Belletristik > Kurzgeschichten & Anthologien

 

 
 
 
 
 
Approximately 25 pages in a printed book. Independently edited and proof read.Short story, with German, American English and UK and Commonwealth English versions available in one eBook.There is a war taking place, but where? It could be nearer than you think. They say to keep your friends close and your enemy’s even closer. But what happens in a society where you can’t tell one from the other? Would this cause you to become your own worst enemy. A gripping thriller of a soldiers tale with plenty of action.