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?