A weekly column by digital book marketer, Caoimhe O’Brien.

Last week, I spoke about blurbs, also known as book descriptions, and the importance of utilizing their full potential.

I posted the original blurb for Orna’s book After the Rising and explained that we were going to improve it, using the techniques that I mentioned.

To recap, some important points we considered were:

  • Easy-to-read. Use spacing rather than bulky paragraphs
  • HTML. Use HTML to make the blurb more eye-catching
  • Length. Search engines use blurbs to direct readers to your book. Use the power of your full word allowance.
  • Comparable titles. As with keywords, comparing your book to successful titles in your genre will boost your book in search rankings.
  • Keywords – making sure the blurb contains keywords that people would use to search for your book – more about that next time.

Putting it into practice

The result of our hard work, a week of tinkering and making lots of changes is below, with the html visible so you can see exactly what we did.

We’re still sorting through the best keywords to use so the final result will be posted next week but I thought you’d like to see it evolve along the way.

The most important function of the blurb is to place After the Rising strongly in the Irish fiction genre. I see this as a real selling point for Orna’s books and something that sets them apart from other historical fiction novels.

Step one was coming up with a snappy, keyword-laden start to the blurb. I think we have definitely achieved this. It sets out exactly what readers should expect from the book and highlights the main themes – love, revenge, and redemption.

We have also used the first line to compare the book to two popular books in the genre – books that are doing well in the charts and, importantly, would attract the same type of readers as After the Rising. The ebook market changes rapidly, so keep an eye on what’s happening now and update as applicable.

We made sure to include lots of words that people might use as keywords. I’ll talk more about this next time, as we have further work to do on keywords, before we can say we have the finalized book description.

So make sure you give yourself all the time you need to optimize your book blurb. You can upload improved versions as you go, knowing you still have work to do, but do stay at the task until you fully understand your choices of categories and keywords and have reflected them, as naturally as possible, in the description.

For now, we have bulked out the blurb for After The Rising to take full advantage of the 4000 character limit. You can do this with reviews, if you’ve said all you have to say about the book. I found a great review from the Historical Novel Society online, which contained even more keywords and is a glowing recommendation of After the Rising.

You can read the blurb below, and how it improves on what was there before. Next week, we’ll be getting together long strings of keywords (as many as 200+) before finalizing the book description and uploading it on all the platforms, including this website.

Looking at current comparable novels has made us revisit the covers. Things have moved on since Orna first published these books, so we’re now commissioning rebranded covers.

More on that soon too.

<b>A historical murder mystery of love, revenge, and redemption, for fans of Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor and The Irish Inheritance by M.J Lee.

Twenty years ago, Jo Devereux fled Mucknamore, the small Irish village where she grew up, driven away by buried secrets and hatreds. Now she is back and needs to uncover the truth</b> of what really happened between her family and their friends, the O’Donovans, during the bitter Irish Civil War of 1922.

The consequences of that conflict carried down into Jo’s own life, shattering her relationship with Rory O’Donovan, the only man she ever loved.

And driving her from her homeland, swearing she would never return.

Now, Jo’s estranged mother has died, leaving her a suitcase full of letters and diaries that raise searing questions about the past. Was her great-uncle really murdered by Dan O’Donovan, his best friend? If yes, why? And what part did her beloved grandmother play in this conflict that followed so soon after the Irish war of independence, when those who had won partial freedom for their country turned their guns on each other?

And why did nobody ever talk about that time?

Much to her own surprise, Jo finds herself staying on in Ireland, determined to disinter buried secrets and find the answers she seeks.

Over the course of a long, hot summer, she is astonished at the truths she uncovers about her grandmother and great-aunt, their part in Ireland’s fight for freedom, and the repercussions that resounded through her own life.

The consequences of a cold-blooded murder are still ricocheting down through the generations, as history begins to repeat itself. Rory, who still lives in Mucknamore and is mired in an unhappy marriage, draws Jo close again.

The strength of her feelings frightens her, but past pain makes her cautious, as does reading their shared family histories. She knows too well how the passion of rebellion sweeps people up — but has learned that the most important question is what happens <em>after</em> the rising.

Can Jo be true to herself, and also to the family she rejected when she was young and headstrong? Might this second chance of happiness reclaim the love once lost to them all?

<em>After The Rising</em> is a sweeping, multigenerational tale set in the 1920s and 1990s Ireland and 1970s London. It is the first book in <b>The Irish Trilogy</b>, followed by <em>Before the Fall</em>.

<h2>Praise for Orna Ross and <em>The Irish Trilogy</em></h2>

Sunday Independent: “A highly ambitious, engaging and evocative novel and a hauntingly captivating read.”
“No history book could reveal with as much compassion the impact of the Irish conflict on successive generations… This expertly crafted novel is an important work in terms of Irish social history, but it will also be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates intelligent and profound family sagas that make the reader count his own blessings.” — Historical Novel Society Review
Irish Independent: “The sort of massive book you could happily curl up with for the entire winter, an impressive canvas interweaving a contemporary story of love, emigration and loss with the complex world of civil war politics, emerging women's rights and buried secrets. It explores the influence of our families on who we later become, in lyrical language, while still being a captivating read.”

“The writer has taken on a tough job – interweaving past and present and making them strike fire off each other… [and] has made brilliant use of original sources, including local historians in Wexford, adding the icing on the cake.” —<em>Evening Herald</em>

“Epic sweep…ambitious scope… an intelligent book”. — <em>Sunday Tribune</em>

“A riveting story…vividly brought to life.” — <em> Emigrant Online</em>