Hello everyone. A lot of you will have read my fourth (technically fifth) novel, A Head Full Of Knives. It has nearly 200 reviews on each side of the Atlantic, with scores of 4.7 (UK) and 4.5 (USA). That’s pretty respectable, both in terms of review numbers and overall score. So what’s the problem?
It doesn’t sell.
To put it into context: at the time of writing, my top four bestselling books are The Stone Man, In The Darkness, How To Be A Vigilante, and Kill Someone. The order changes a lot (although Cementum himself is pretty much always at the top, as much as Charlie and Minnie knock him off the top spot more and more these days… ) but generally that’s it. The Physics of the Dead will sneak in there too sometimes, as does Weird. Dark.
But Knives? Never.
I’ve tried three different covers, and all sorts of optimisation tricks in the book’s setup (trust me, I’ve tried them all), and two completely different blurbs. I think a fourth cover is in order, and a huge part of the problem is with the book’s title (it just doesn’t appeal the way the others do.) It’s too late to do anything about that… but the cover can be changed. As can the blurb.
And that’s what I want you to help me with.
The blurbs of my books are always… troublesome, and there’s a good reason why, one that has become especially clear with the healthy early sales of Vigilante and Kill Someone (hands down, by a country mile, my most successful launches.) Here’s the difference:
With Vigilante and Kill Someone, I can tell you what the book is all about, and it doesn’t ruin the story.
How come? Think about it. If you’ve read those books, try and sum the setup of the story as if you were explaining the scenario of the book to someone else. Done it? Ok. Now, ask yourself this question:
Have you given away any major parts of the plot, or spoiled any of the fun or intrigue of the book?
The answer, I would think, would be no. Therefore I can say in those books’ blurb exactly what they’re about, sell the story to the reader, and kill none of the fun.
Now take a story like The Man On Table Ten. A story where, until about halfway through the book, you have no idea what the guy’s big secret is… and that’s what has kept you reading the story. Once that secret is revealed, the story becomes all about how not only the Man himself handles that secret, but the waitress’ response to it. Now imagine reading that story when you already know what the secret is. It would still be good (I hope) but you’ve taken a huge amount of the book’s hook away.
Now multiply that driven-by-the-mystery angle by about five, and you have A Head Full Of Knives. The book is literally mystery-reveal, mystery-reveal, mystery-reveal for the entire plot.
Now try and sum up what that story is about without giving anything important away, and still make it sound appealing to the average reader.
You can see my first effort on the book’s Amazon page, and if you have an early paperback copy you’ll have the original blurb too. Think you can do better? Good.
Guess what? We’re going to have a competition.
Come up with your own blurb for A Head Full Of Knives and send it to me by January 1st, and I’ll not only pick the best one and use it on the book’s Amazon page, Audible page and on the paperback version’s back cover, but I’ll send you a signed paperback copy of the book with the new cover and your blurb on it, thanking you for coming up with that blurb.
Important: if I don’t think any of the entries are quite right, I’ll be honest, they won’t be used, but I’ll still pick my favourite out of those and send the winner their copy of the new version of the book. Believe me, though; I really hope someone does produce a belter here because I would be very happy if they did.
Get thinking, get writing, and have a happy festive period.
Stay Hungry folks.
PS if you’ve read the book but never put your review up on Amazon UK and USA… well… ah, do I really even need to say it these days?