Writing Blurb for your Novel

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This guy knows how to write blurb, just look at him, he BREATHES blurb

Blurb sometimes gets muddled up with teasers, so I’m using the definition that makes sense to me. Blurb is a short, enticing description about your book, up to four hundred words long. It’s not a synopsis. Guides on how to write blurb often have a long list of information to include, such as description of main character, setting, events, all finishing with a question. I disagree with most of that. Although it’s fine as a formula, the description is so ubiquitous that everybody is writing blurbs that look the same. If you have a captive audience (ie people who know your writing and have at least some interest in it) then that’s ok, because those people are paying enough attention to actually read the few paragraphs you’ve written. However, if your blurb is on Amazon, alongside thousands of other blurbs, then it won’t stand out.

My theory (which may prove to be totally wrong) is that blurb only needs to contain one idea that captures something about your book and is interesting enough to draw attention to itself. It shouldn’t misrepresent your book (that will only annoy your readers) but it doesn’t need to capture the whole book either.

I was inspired by this blurb on the back of Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

I think that’s brilliant. In five short lines it’s got me thinking, I want to know what happens in this story, and it only took a few seconds to take it in.

Then I wrote my blurb for the back of my book and my Amazon page

‘Listen to me. Humanity is in trouble. You know that, right? The wars, the greed, the waste. We’re heading for disaster.

They tell us that’s just the way the world is.

But they’re lying.

I have the truth, and I can teach you the answers to the two most important questions.

Who is really running the world? And why are they doing it so badly?’

                                                                                                             Myra, Prophet 2018

I was worried that was too nonspecific, so at the bottom I added the line

Peddling Doomsday is a tense psychological drama about a cult run by a charismatic female leader.

My hope is that the first part will get people’s attention and then the final line will provide enough information for people to decide if they want to read or not.

At the moment I don’t know if this will work or not. We’ll have to see.

What are your thoughts on blurb? Have you written any? Any feedback for mine? What does it take to persuade you to read a book?

 

 

16 thoughts on “Writing Blurb for your Novel

  1. Haven’t done a blurb yet but I can tell you the first thing that gets my attention when deciding what to read is the cover. I recently mentioned that on my blog. My brain worked this way on your cover design: I saw an attractive young person in a hoodie or robe of some kind. My mind put in a scythe that wasn’t there… It got my attention.

    Your blurb: My brain only caught keywords – Humanity is in trouble…But they’re lying…Who is running the world…Prophet 2018. The last part got me buying the book. “Tense psychological drama about a cult.” Putting it all together you got my attention long enough to buy a copy. I will review it after I finish reading on my blog. Congratulations on your hard work.

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    1. Thank you Darnell, I really appreciate the encouragement (and the feedback is useful too), and if you review it that would be fantastic! I look forward to hearing what you have to say, you always have an interesting, insightful take on things 😀

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  2. A strong blurb can make all the difference for a potential reader. I’d know because every time I go to the libary at least four books get put down based purely on the blurb. Perhaps the most important part of marketing in my view. I can deal with a bad cover. But the blurb needs to capture me.

    I’m glad I’ve not yet had to deal with the responsibility of writing one because I’d probably end up being all angsty over it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the blurb is the real hook, It’s useful that you have that experience of using blurb in libraries though, it will help if you do have to write one.

      It’s difficult to avoid the angst, I think the easiest way to do it, if you’re writing a book, is to write the blurb early on, and then you have time to see it with fresh eyes later.

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  3. I think I know what doesn’t draw me in and that’s too much detail: too many introduced characters (especially with names too weird to immediately connect with), too many plot twists indicated (one is fine, two is clever, three strains belief) and too many long sentences (the fewer and the shorter the better). A good pop song has a hook that draws you in (a phrase combined with an instantly catchy tune) and a blurb should try to emulate that, I think.

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    1. I’ve never thought of it like a pop song before, but yes, that makes sense, catchy and easy to get first time around. I agree the shorter and simpler the better. thanks for your input 🙂

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  4. I have to say, this was extremely helpful! I find describing my work is one of the hardest parts of the process, especially in a way that’s condensed enough to make for an effective blurb. I’ve only ever attempted one blurb, and in retrospect I think it came out a little too lengthy. I’ll be glad to have your tips to follow when it comes time to write one again.

    As for your blurb, what really draws me in is the sense of urgency created by making ‘Listen to me’ the first thing the reader sees. It literally commands my attention. The choice to include two driving questions at the end of Myra’s address was also good, because it leaves the reader looking for answers, making them want to read the book to get those answers. Not only that, but the fact that the blurb is in the form of lines spoken by a character provides assurance that the style of the actual book will be consistent with what the blurb presents. It’s a great example of how something short can be really effective.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback, it’s reassuring to hear the blurb is enticing! And I’m glad the pots was useful. Good luck with blurb in the future 🙂

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  5. I honestly think the best blurbs I’ve written have been for fanfictions, because of course they’d be for something I can’t sell/market myself. I’ve written a tidy few for original stories, but I hate the trap of wanting to say so much with too few words. I remember when I was querying a decade ago, the big thing was the “hook.” You had to have a hook for your novel that you put into the query letter, which would make the agent want to read more. I do like the one for the WIP I started back in November that I still need to really work on. Sometimes it’s hard to not give everything away.

    I like the blurb for Peddling Doomsday. It brings up questions many people ask, it has that Illuminati vibe, and the idea of cults fascinates people even if they (think they) would never join one themselves.

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    1. It’s interesting that the best ones you’ve written are for writing you can’t sell, is that because the pressure is off? Can you not sell them because the original fiction is copyrighted? That must be frustrating!
      Thank you for the feedback on the Peddling Doomsday blurb, at the moment it’s just trial and error to see what works!

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      1. Yup, it’s copyrighted and there not a company that allows it, which it’s fine. I think it’s because I’ve loved the characters and story for a long time, so I’m just so comfortable writing them! Oh, and I’ve been working on it lately, so it’s more recent writing, which I’ve found is just better than ten year ago writing. I plan on re-editing my novel, so when I do that, it should have my more up to day standards. It doesn’t bother me too much I can’t publish it like that; it just makes me shake my head at the oddities of life hehe.

        Writing is so much trial and error and edit, re-edit, re-edit, re-edit, and oh my god can I stop now? Nope, re-edit, re-edit…even things I’ve thought I signed off on, I’ll find some little thing to tweak.

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      2. Knowing how to stop editing is a real struggle, it’s true. That’s the main reason it’s so frightening to publish because THERE WILL BE SOMETHING WRONG! Self publishing is slightly easier, because at least you can make changes, fix typos, but at some point you have to let your book go, let it make its own way in the world 😀

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