Authorbuzz is a service that promotes books for a fee (I don't have any personal knowledge of their service or how well it works). On their site they give their authors a chance to pitch their books directly to readers who sign up to the site. I thought it might be useful to you to read two pitches and compare them, to discover what works and what doesn't.
First up: HELPLESS, by Daniel Palmer. Here's what he wrote about his book:
"Nine years after he left Shilo, New Hampshire, former Navy Seal Tom Hawkins has returned to raise his teenage daughter, Jill, following the murder of his ex-wife, Kelly. Despite Tom’s efforts to stay close to Jill by coaching her high school soccer team, Kelly’s bitterness fractured their relationship. But life in Shilo is gradually shaping up into something approaching normal. Normal doesn’t last long. Shilo’s police sergeant makes it clear that Tom is his chief suspect in Kelly’s death. Then an anonymous blog post alleges that Coach Hawkins is sleeping with one of his players. Internet rumors escalate, and incriminating evidence surfaces on Tom’s own computer and cell phone. To prove his innocence, Tom must unravel a tangle of lies about his past. For deep amid the secrets he’s been keeping—from a troubled tour of duty to the reason for his ex-wife’s death—is the truth that someone will gladly kill to protect."
In my opinion that's a pretty good pitch. It sets up the relationships nicely--the father-daughter conflict suggests that this story isn't just a by-the-numbers crime thriller. It doesn't give away the ending, but the last sentence adds another element of conflict and danger, and suggests that the secrets might have several levels.
Let's look at the next one, BLUE MOON BAY, by Lisa Wingate. This is how she described her book:
"When Seattle architect, Heather Hampton returns to Moses Lake, Texas, family secrets and a small-town mystery blow her plans completely off course. Heather wants to sell the family farmland to giant Proxica Foods, so she can design Proxica's new flagship facility. But when local banker, Blaine Underhill, and Heather's crazy family get involved, all bets are off. Suddenly, Heather's quick trip to Texas leads to Valentine's Week in the family funeral home, and a revelation that could change Heather's life forever.
What do you think?
To be fair, it's quite a bit shorter, which works against it, but I think there are other problems.
It refers to Heather Hampton's plans being blown off course. When, in the next sentence, I hear what those plans are (to sell the family farmland to a big food company), I don't care about that one way or another--there's not the kind of emotional appeal that you get from the store of a father trying to protect his daughter.
If Heather had an urgent need for the money, for something we can identify with, we might care.
And when the pitch mentions the deal, I think, Oh no, not another tale of the ordinary folks vs. the big bad company that wants to build on land and do terrible things, like provide jobs for the local young people.
Furthermore, phrases like "Heather's crazy family" remind me of sitcoms with stereotypical characters. Phrases like "all bets are off" are so general that, again, I don't get a connection with the story.
Sorry, Lisa Wingate, for all I know the book is far better than the pitch.
Writing this kind of blurb, whether in a query letter to an agent or publisher or for the back of tbe book, is very difficult. Looking at how others have done it, whether really well or not so well, is a great way to get better yourself.
(Marketing what you write is an important section of the new edition of Your Writing Coach, just out from NIcholas Brealey Publishing and available from Amazon and other book sellers.)