Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about writing a book blurb. I’m in the final stages of editing my current book, and my thoughts are turning to create the dreaded blurb. It can almost be harder to write than the book.
Instead of writing my blurb, I wondered where the term originated. Here’s what I found: “The word blurb was coined in 1907 by American humorist Gelett Burgess (1866–1951). His short 1906 book Are You a Bromide? was presented in a limited edition to an annual trade association dinner.”— Wikipedia
With that out of the way, I refreshed my skills by researching what makes a good blurb.
I stay between 100 and 200 words. I’ve seen plenty of shorter and longer ones. Shorter blurbs might not pull the reader in, while longer ones might give too much information.
When approaching writing a blurb, I do it from a reader’s perspective. I want to know the genre, the main character, and what’s going on. It’s a very delicate balance not to give too much away. Try to work your theme and keywords into the blurb if possible.
When or Where?
Is this happening now, in the future, or the past? Is it set in a tropical location or during a snowstorm? If it’s in the now and the setting isn’t important to the story, it isn’t necessary to mention it.
What will pull the reader into buying your book? Tap into their emotions.
It is more common to write it in the third person and present tense, but I’m not against breaking the rules.
Praise by fellow authors
It’s a good place to include a successful author’s praise for the story.
What you don’t need
Your blurb doesn’t need secondary characters, a book summary, character bios, subplots, spoilers, inappropriate language for intended readers, lack of tension, backstory, cliches, and uninspiring information.
Stuck? Read the blurbs of your favorite stories in the genre you are writing. What caught your attention and made you want to read the book? Then apply that to your story. Think like a reader!
Here are bad blurb examples:
I moved into a new town and bought a house. I have no friends, and my handsome neighbor plays loud music all day long while his dog barks all night. It would be okay if things didn’t start moving around. I want to move, but I can’t afford it. I’m scared, and now I find out the house is cursed. All the other owners dropped dead. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop… on me. I wonder if my neighbor, the local cop, or coworker is a killer, even though they claim to want to help me. I hope I can figure this out.
Sandy moved into a new town and bought a house. She has no friends except for her handsome musician neighbor. When scary things happen, she checks her budget and realizes she can’t move again. So, she investigates with the help of her neighbor, a local cop, and a coworker. She suspects that one of the men helping her might have ill intentions. Research shows the house is cursed. Hopefully, she will survive that curse and someone’s death wish.
Neither of these would pull me in. Although seeing it written in the first person was interesting, but not a sale.
How about this?
After a nasty breakup, journalist Sandy Lane moves into her dream Victorian house full of hope. Little things begin to happen, like a displaced object or an open cabinet, but she could easily ignore or explain them. When a ceiling light crashes down next to her, and a rattlesnake is coiled under her bed, Sandy realizes her life is in danger.
Luckily, a helpful handsome musician, a charming hometown police officer, and a coworker come to her aid. As she uncovers the house’s cursed legend, it becomes apparent one of these men is using the deadly legend against her. Will she figure out who it is before it’s too late?
Better this time, but it still needs some work. At least it would catch my attention and tell me what I’m about to read.
Blurbs are as important as the book cover. If the cover pulls a reader in, the next thing they do is read the blurb. It’s found on the book’s back cover or if bought online, right next to the cover. The blurb is used in blog tours, and some bloggers include the blurb along with their reviews.
It’s an important group of words that either invite readers into your world or slam the door shut in their face.
How do you feel about blurbs, and do you find them easy to write? Do they encourage you to buy the book or not?