Whether readers buy books online or in a bookstore, they look at the cover first and the blurb second. If the blurb doesn’t grab them, they move on. Don’t kill that sale with a bad blurb.
A blurb is defined as a short description of your book, written for promotional purposes and appearing on the back cover. That definition sucks all the life out of the word, though. Scratch out “written for promotional purposes” and substitute “written to seize the prospective reader’s attention and imbed an irresistible desire to possess the book and read every word.”
My primary publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, asks for two blurbs for each book—a long one that’s less than 150 words, and a short one no longer than 25 words. Both of these are difficult for me to write, but the short blurb is the toughest.
What should be in a blurb?
- Hint at the plot or main conflict.
- Name and mention distinguishing trait of main character(s).
- Describe the setting or ‘world.’ This is vital in science fiction and fantasy.
- If available, include quotes about this book or your previous books.
- If space available, include an author bio.
How do you write one?
- Study other book blurbs in your genre. Learn the common words and language.
- Write a summary of your book (if not done already), then shorten it down to its essence. What’s the book’s “elevator speech?”
- Use image-laden words, those powerful words that speak to readers of the book’s genre.
- Ensure the tone of the blurb matches that of the book.
- Write several blurbs and combine the best features.
- Set it aside for a few days, then read it again. If meh, rewrite.
- Ask your critique group to comment on it. You are in a critique group, right?
Here are three of the 25-word blurbs from my most recent books. These don’t contain all the elements noted above, but the 150-word, lengthier versions do:
- “Ripper’s Ring:” The ancient Ring of Gyges grants the power of invisibility to Jack the Ripper. A Scotland Yard detective tracks a killer who can’t be seen.
- “Time’s Deformèd Hand:” Time for zany mix-ups in a clock-obsessed village. Long-separated twins, giant automatons, and Shakespeare add to the madcap comedy. Read it before it’s too late!
- “The Cometeers:” A comet threatens Earth…in 1897! Of the six men launched by cannon to deflect it, one is a saboteur. It’s steampunk Armageddon!
With some practice and creativity, your blurbs should be even better than any written by—