J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is one of the most well-known and loved children’s books EVER WRITTEN. Surely there’s no way to make this story sound silly, right? HA! Read my bad blurb below before you decide:
Harry Potter goes from almost-normal-boy-who-lives-in-a-cupboard-under-his-mean-aunt-and-uncle’s-stairs to prospective wizard in a few beats of an owl’s wing. And he’s no ordinary wizard—Harry’s the only wizard ever to have survived a fight with the terrifying You Know Who.
You and Harry have got to get back to Hogwarts, Hogwarts—where you’ll be enchanted by booger-flavored jelly beans, frizzy-haired brainiacs, and big, big dogs, watch Harry try to get his hands on some sorcerer’s stones, and find the true definition of “two-faced” lurking under a turban.
Um, no. Just no. Besides the fact that I totally included spoilers in the last line, I’m still cackling over “sorcerer’s stones.” When writing a blurb/query, make sure to pick up on any unintentional double meanings, because trust me—there are plenty of people with warped brains like mine out there, and they WILL notice. And snicker.
Also, the turban line could come across as slightly racist. Huge fail.
Finally—know what to concentrate on in your query/blurb, and what not to mention. Example--while you might love a good booger-flavored jelly bean, they are probably not the way to an agent’s or editor’s heart.
Now, let’s see what the talented folks at Arthur A. Levine books used as front jacket copy on the hard cover version:
Harry Potter has never been star of a Quidditch game, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility. All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son Dudley—a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives announcing that Harry has been chosen to attend Hogwarts, an elite school for the training of wizards and witches…
Ahhh, now THAT’S more like it. The very first line manages to capture what’s especially intriguing/mysterious about Hogwarts—and doesn’t focus on the random like my blurb did.
(On the other hand—do I get bonus points for A Very Potter Musical shout-out? No? Boo!)
Hope you enjoyed this installment of Bad Blurb Tuesday, and I’ll leave you with this: