Never underestimate the power of the blurb.
The blurb is that short description you find on the back of a book. You’ll also see a version of it in the brief description provided on Amazon and other retailers that sell the book. Although it’s easy to overlook, the blurb is a powerful arsenal in marketing your book. The blurb goes hand in hand with the cover design. The cover is the lure that will initially catch the reader’s eye. A good blurb will hook the reader by giving the reader a taste of what the book is about and entice the reader to buy it. The blurb should provide a gist of the main plot, main character(s), and the stakes/complications involved. The trick though is not giving the whole plot away. Although you don’t want the blurb to be too vague you don’t want to spoil the plot. It’s like watching a movie trailer that gives away the whole storyline in 2 minutes. If you were to do something similar in the back blurb, what incentive would the reader have to read it if they already know what is going to happen in the end?
Writing a Great Blurb
While rewriting my blurb I found it helpful to gather feedback from others and look at other examples of blurbs. An effective way to get people to care about the story is to evoke an emotional response from the reader. This can be achieved by using the right words that stir strong emotions that the reader can identify with. Another point is to include the major conflict the character must overcome to reach their goal or quest. The higher the stakes, the more interesting things get which will further heighten the reader’s anticipation of finding out how the conflict will be resolved. Here are some helpful tips I picked up from Michael Sullivan, an established writer, in an article he wrote about blurb writing here. I will briefly outline the main tips about writing good blurbs but I highly suggest reading his post especially the concept of using a headline for your blurb.
- Keep it short and snappy. Brevity is key. Keeping it to one paragraph is preferable.
- Think of your blurb as an advertisement. Throw in a teaser, (eg. raise a question) that will intrigue the reader and urge them to want to find out what happens next.
- Examine other blurbs from stories you like and figure out what makes them successful and apply some of the techniques they use.
Above is the revised back cover for Before the Legend with the blurb. Although I’m no expert at blurb writing, here is my latest attempt.
It’s every child’s nightmare. In the next three days he’s about to relive it. Will he defy this dream?
On the quiet island, amidst the looming Roman Empire, Troy, the youngest son of the King has always known his little world to be safe and happy. But one nightmare gives him a disturbing glimpse of losing his parents forever. He wakes up only to realize he may have lost something else_ his parent’s love and affection. Left with more questions than answers, Troy must figure out the new questions that the event has triggered. But in three days, an earth shattering event rocks the island, separating him and his brothers from their parents. If Troy doesn’t find his parents in time, his worst nightmare is about to come true. But if he does, will he be prepared for what he’s about to discover?
In the example above, I introduced the main character and the setting which fits with my genre (Historical fiction). I provided the main gist of the plot and threw in the complication (the earthquake) and left the reader an interest-arousing question. So what do you think? Although blurb writing has never been easy it doesn’t have to be so daunting after all.
Update: As a heads up check out the newest chapter for Chasing Blue you can check out this link.