Back matter matters

by Doc Coleman on March 3, 2014 · 18 comments

in Novels, WIP

In the full court press to get The Perils of Prague ready for publication, I’ve had to deal with a number of new experiences. One of which is figuring out the cover. I’ve done covers for a couple of my short stories in the past, but those were only e-books. For Perils, I’m planning on also having dead tree copies available. This brings up an entirely new dimension. You see, physical books have back covers. And since they have them, I have to figure out what to put back there.

prague charles bridggePart of that is artwork, and for that I’ve retained the services of Starla Huchton to help me out. The other part of the back cover is the text, what is known in publishing as “back matter”, and that is something that I’ve just begun to think about. So much of writing focuses upon the craft of good storytelling, we tend to forget about some of the practical issues of publishing until they are quite literally forced upon us. Unfortunately, I don’t have a terrible lot of time to think about it if I still want to be able to launch this book at the end of May. Since the text and the image can have an impact on each other, the sooner I figure out the back matter, the easier it will be for Starla to help me come up with a suitable cover design to show off my book.

I’ve never tried writing back matter before, and I have to admit that the blurbs I have written for my short stories have been on the abysmal side of things. So, I’ve been playing around with a few ideas to try to get a feel for this process. I’d like to know what you think, dear reader. Here’s the first one:

The first act brought the house down. Literally.

When an evening’s entertainment unexpectedly leads to the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague, the eccentricity brilliant Professor Harmonious Crackle and his beautiful assistant Miss Titania Bang must team up with the Duke of Prague’s nephew and hunt down the evil genius responsible for the destruction before he unleashes another devastating weapon to terrorize the city and threaten the stability of the British Empire, and the Eternal Empress herself!

In a race against an unknown menace, this intrepid trio must search high and low and discover The Perils of Prague!

That one sticks pretty close to the story line but I’m a little concerned that it doesn’t give enough of a view into the background of the world I’ve created. That made me come up with this one:

Pax Britannia.

Victoria, the Eternal Empress, has sat on the throne of the British Empire for over 150 years. Her policies have brought peace to the world, and where that has failed, her Imperial Troops with their lightning rifles, have swiftly brought order. But there are still those who chafe at the yoke of peace.

In the British Protectorate of Bohemia, one such villain has violated the peace with the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague. Now the brilliant Professor Harmonious Crackle and his beautiful assistant Miss Titania Bang must team up with the Duke of Prague’s nephew and hunt down the culprit before he devastates the city and threatens the stability of the Empire, and the Eternal Empress herself!

In a race against an unknown menace, this intrepid trio must search high and low and discover The Perils of Prague!

So which would make you more likely to pick up the book? Is something missing? Is there something that you particularly like? Should I pay Starla some extra bucks to write my back matter for me?

What is it about a book blurb that makes you want to read the book? What is going to intrigue you enough to make you willing to gamble your money? I really want to hear everyone’s opinion. Don’t afraid to be critical. That criticism is the insight I need. And don’t be afraid to voice your opinion just because others might disagree.

Thanks!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) March 3, 2014 at 9:16 am

Hmm, as a reader I like to know what to look forward to in the book. The first description does that for me. But I have to say I’m taken with the second blurb. Not only do you hit that there is trouble and the story, but the fact that the queen has been on the throne for 150 years! Now that makes me wonder about the world and depth of things here.

I like the mention of ‘one evenings entertainment’ in the first section. If you’d want you could add that to the second and have the best of both in on blurb.

The second one has a bit more to it though. I would absolutely go with that one. It feels more three dimensional.

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2 Doc Coleman March 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

Do you favor either tag line? If I combine the two as you said… using the first tag line I get this:

.

The first act brought the house down. Literally.

Victoria, the Eternal Empress, has sat on the throne of the British Empire for over 150 years. Her policies have brought peace to the world, and where that has failed, her Imperial Troops, with their lightning rifles, have swiftly brought order. But there are still those who chafe at the yoke of peace.

When an evening’s entertainment unexpectedly leads to the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague, the eccentricity brilliant Professor Harmonious Crackle and his beautiful assistant Miss Titania Bang must team up with the Duke of Prague’s nephew and hunt down the evil genius responsible for the destruction before he unleashes another devastating weapon to terrorize the city and threaten the stability of the British Empire, and the Eternal Empress herself!

In a race against an unknown menace, this intrepid trio must search high and low and discover The Perils of Prague!

.

Should I bother mentioning Bohemia? Or the fact that Victoria has been suppressing “dangerous” technologies? I still feel like it is missing something.

Doc

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3 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) March 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

Who/what is Bohemia? I’m not sure the affect Bohemia on the story. Sorry, not having read it.

Hmm, the queen suppressing “dangerous” technologies. That’s interesting. Was this technology used to bring the Opera House down or to bring order to the Empire? Or maybe this tech is what helped her stay in control for the 150 years. I’m trying to thing about where you could drop a small hint in word selection or order to leave a question in the mind. Something to make the reader know what the queen is holding back.

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4 Doc Coleman March 4, 2014 at 8:57 am

Bohemia is a nation. Specifically, it is what the Czech Republic used to be called before it became the Czech Republic. In this world that never happened and the monarchies never fell after Victoria came to the throne. In fact, she put a lot of power back into the monarchy that it had been losing for centuries. And Bohemia is where Prague is, so it is the setting for the story.

As to technology, it is a bit of both. The device that brought the Opera House down is a bit of rogue technology that Victoria would never have allowed outside of the hands of her own military. Part of the reason that the British Imperial troops are so devastatingly effective is that they have access to the most advanced technology in the world. No one dares challenge them. Even the Americans play nice, knowing that British troops could roll down out of Canada if they make too many waves. Victoria has no desire for conquest, but she demands order, and has the might to back it up.

Doc

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5 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) March 4, 2014 at 9:33 am

Hmm, I’ve been playing with words and thinking. I fear I’m going to complicate things for you. So, you can skip this and do as you wish, but I’ll mention since we are talking it out. 🙂

When an evening’s entertainment in the British Protectorate of Bohemia unexpectedly leads to the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague by one such villain has violating the peace with what is suspected as {{modified/rogue}} technology.

OR

One such villain has violated the peace in the British Protectorate of Bohemia with one evening’s entertainment unexpectedly leads to the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague,…

As for technology, you could make a drop about it being rogue or turning the queens technology, modified, against her in the last sentence of second paragraph, where mention of devastating weapon is mentioned as it leads into that there.

I’m sorry, I know I haven’t read the book so I’m probably mixing up details for what the book is about. I can stop now. 🙂

6 David in Arbutus March 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

The first para of the second example is not working for me. Makes me think the Queen and her military will be in the book. I like the first example better, and feel it better represents the book (at least the version I read.)

I’d be happy to give you a quote if you want one, but of course, more famous people than I could probably draw more readers. – DW

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7 Doc Coleman March 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

I may take you up on the offer of a quote later. In fact, I may ask all the pre-readers to offer up quotes for marketing purposes.

Queen Victoria may not show up in the book, but she does have an influence on everything that goes on. I see your point I just want to give a little more flavor to the blurb. It is a work in progress.

Thanks for the feedback.

Doc

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8 Amanda March 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

I prefer the second.

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9 Doc Coleman March 4, 2014 at 8:46 am

Thanks for chiming in!

Doc

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10 Allison Shaffer March 4, 2014 at 9:03 am

All your comments are just saying [Comment imported from blog], just so you’re aware.

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11 Doc Coleman March 4, 2014 at 9:35 am

Yeah. I haven’t had time to troubleshoot it.

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12 Doc Coleman March 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

Don’t stop! I need all the help I can get.

I think I like “When an evening’s entertainment in the British Protectorate of Bohemia unexpectedly leads to the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague”. That has a good flow to it, but after that it starts tripping on itself. Let me think on this a bit and see what percolates.

Doc

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13 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) March 4, 2014 at 10:14 am

Yea, when I was retyping it here I felt like it was to much at the end and in one place.

Glad to give you a bit of a sounding board at least. 🙂

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14 Doc Coleman March 5, 2014 at 9:21 am

Ok. Let’s see how this sounds.
.

The first act brought the house down. Literally.

Victoria, the Eternal Empress, has sat on the throne of the British Empire for over 150 years. Her policies have brought peace to the world by suppressing the development of “dangerous technologies”, and where that has failed, her Imperial Troops, with their lightning rifles, have swiftly brought order. But there are still those who chafe at the yoke of peace.

When an evening’s entertainment in the British Protectorate of Bohemia unexpectedly leads to the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague, the eccentricity brilliant Professor Harmonious Crackle and his beautiful assistant Miss Titania Bang must team up with the Duke of Prague’s nephew and hunt down the evil genius responsible before he unleashes another devastating rogue technology weapon to terrorize the city and threaten the stability of the British Empire, and the Eternal Empress herself!

In a race against an unknown menace, this intrepid trio must search high and low and discover The Perils of Prague!

.
I have the feeling I’m getting closer to what I’m shooting for.

Doc

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15 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) March 5, 2014 at 10:28 am

Hmm, I’m not able to reply on your comment so had to do a new line.

I say! I love that first paragraph of the new version. Nicely done. I think it gives great depth to the world we’ll be stepping into. The second paragraph brings in the plot. I am taken with that one long sentence. lol. It really works! The only thing I was thinking is ‘technology’, what do you think if it was ‘technological’? I seem to slow and re-read those three words together – devastating rogue technology.

That is all I’m picking up at this point. And, I must say, sounds like a great read. 🙂

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16 Doc Coleman March 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

So, “devastating rogue technological weapon” reads better to you?

Doc

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17 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) March 5, 2014 at 10:48 am

I think it does. The ‘ical ending feels a bit softer in flow to me than the hard ‘gy’ sound. But, that could be just my preference as opposed to others. See if anyone else has any ideas for you. 🙂

I think you are really getting narrowed down here. 🙂 Glad I could help give you a sounding board with it.

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