Writing a Blurb: a Glimpse of A Respectable Woman

Posted on 20th April, 2018

In two months, on June 21st, my second saga for Allison & Busby, A Respectable Woman, will be published. Recently I blogged about how my heroine, Nell Hibbert, came by her name. This week, I thought I'd show you the possible blurbs I wrote for the book.


It may surprise you to know that the author doesn't write the blurb that appears on the book. That is the job of the publishing elves. But the elves like to have a bit of guidance and so I was asked to produce a blurb for them to take as their starting point.


So I wrote three blurbs. Why? Well, to provide as much information as possible for the elves to choose from. The first blurb was almost all about Nell, the heroine; the second introduced other characters and story elements; and the third concentrated on Nell and Jim, the hero.


(Incidentally, the other thing about being asked to produce a blurb is that you are given a word count. Mine was to write a blurb of approximately 200 words. All three of mine are exactly 200. Result!)


I have published them all here. What do you think of them?


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A Respectable Woman - blurb 1


After losing her beloved family in the Great War, Nell is grateful to marry Stan Hibbert, believing that with him, she can recapture the loving family feeling she has lost. Five years on, she is just another back-street housewife, making every penny do the work of tuppence and performing miracles with scrag-end. When she discovers that Stan is leading a double-life, she runs away to make a fresh start elsewhere.


Two years later, in 1924, Nell has carved out a fulfilling new life for herself and her young children in Manchester, where her neighbours believe she is a respectable widow, as do her fellow-workers in the garment factory where she is a talented machinist. Even her children believe their father is dead. Nell lives for her children and tries hard not to fall in love with Jim Franks, the handsome window cleaner who does so much to help her. After all, she is really a married woman.


When a figure from the past turns up, Nell has to face a court case. Will the respectable life she has fought for be enough to allow her to keep her children or will her lies mean she will lose them forever?



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A Respectable Woman - blurb 2


Manchester, 1924. Nell Hibbert has a secret. Her back-street neighbours and her fellow-workers in the garment factory admire her as a hard-working, respectable young widow, but really she is the runaway wife of a duplicitous husband. Over the past two years, she has carved out a fulfilling new life for herself and her young children and believes her shameful past is behind her.


Nell's dear friend, Leonie Brent, has a secret. Her overbearing son-in-law is making her life a misery, but she can't speak out because she can't bear to upset her daughter. Besides, what would the neighbours think?


Leonie's young granddaughter Posy also has a secret. Her charming father is really a cruel bully and her mother pretends not to know.


Jim Franks has no secrets. Everyone knows he is a former solicitor who has worked as a window cleaner since the War while coming to terms with deep-rooted feelings of loss. He is in love with Nell, but what can he do to make her notice him?


When a figure emerges from Nell's past, she and her friends face fresh challenges as hidden truths emerge, relationships are strained and Nell is threatened with losing her beloved children.



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A Respectable Woman - blurb 3


1924, Chorlton, Manchester. Life is looking up for young widow Nell Hibbert. She and her two small children live with a loving elderly couple and Nell's skill with the sewing machine enables her to get a desirable job as a sewing machine demonstrator in a department store. Discovering a flair for teaching inspires her to think of working for herself. Could a lass from the back-streets really do that? Nell devotes her life to her children and her work, while trying not to fall in love with Jim Franks. He may be the perfect man for her, but Nell Hibbert has a secret. She isn't a widow; she is a runaway wife.


Jim Franks has no secrets. Everyone knows he was a well-to-do solicitor before the War. Now he works as a window cleaner while coming to terms with deep-rooted feelings of loss. He loves Nell but can't get her to notice him. His former fiancee, the elegant Roberta, on the other hand, is eager to get back together.


When a figure emerges from Nell's past, she must face a court case. Can Jim help her keep her beloved children? And can Nell and Jim find the happiness they deserve?



* * * *


So there they are, my three attempts at writing a blurb for A Respectable Woman. Which do you think is best? Do leave a comment and tell me. And if you like the sound of Nell's story, I hope you'll put in a library request for it.



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Comments (12)

Thanks, Jen. Another vote for blurb 1. As you say, publication is only two months away. The time will fly. Hope to see you ate the RNA Conference in July. xx
I like the first blurb, Susanna, but all of them make me want to read the book...and now only two months until I can! Wishing you much success with 'A Respectable Woman.'
Thanks, Jan. It seems that the first blurb is the general favourite and I can see why. I'm so pleased you are looking forward to reading A Respectable Woman. The support you have given me, and continue to give me, for The Deserter's Daughter is deeply appreciated. Looking forward to seeing you in Oxford next month xx
This is so interesting, Sue. All three whet the appetite of your prospective readers but if I had to choose, I think it would be Blurb 1. I love the fact that it ends with an intriguing question the reader will want answered. Who wouldn't want to know the outcome to such an awful dilemma? Can't wait to find out. :-)
Tara, you have chosen the one the elves liked best. I must admit I did enjoy doing the three blurbs. I can appreciate why you think it would be a useful writing exercise. Have a go at it!
It's number one for me - although the others are great too. I think this is actually a really good exercise to do. I might try it for my WIP.
Kirsten, I'm glad you enjoyed this blog. I thought that it would give a flavour of the new book as well as being of interest from a technical point of view. It won't be long now, I hope, before you are asked to write your own preliminary blurb!
Catherine, I'm glad you liked the 'secrets' pattern in the second blurb and found it effective. I hope you will enjoy reading A Respectable Woman. Publication day is getting nearer and now I have that 'counting down' feeling.
What a brilliant idea for a blog, Sue. I loved reading them all but my favourite was the first one that focusses on Nell and her story. It found it really interesting how different they all were. Fascinating stuff!
I like all three but number two is my favourite..... I like the repetition of has a a secret and then the has no secret. Now I want to read the book ...l only two months to go.
Thanks for your vote, Kazzy. You have chosen the one that the A&B elves went for. I hope you'll enjoy reading the book. Thanks for your support. xx
They're all great, Susanna, but I love, love, LOVE the first one. It makes me long to read the story, so I can hardly wait until June 21st xxx