After people are attracted to your book because of its eye-catching cover and are intrigued to read the story because of your book’s attention-grabbing title, they often go straight to the blurb to see if they want to buy the book or not. The blurb is the short summary of your book that is placed under the title and next to the cover on most distributors’ websites. It can be the thing that makes the sale, that convinces the reader that the story will be worth their time and money, or sends the reader away to browse other books.
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Follow a Pattern
Although writing blurbs is often considered an art form in and of itself, there are at least a couple of patterns that authors tend to follow. The first part of the blurb presents a situation, then a problem. Here’s an example from my book, A Wizard of Light.
[Situation] “In the ancient land of Kor, a young wizard, who has yet to discover all of his power and destiny, saves a village from a flock of soul eating creatures.” [Problem] “Not long after the villagers celebrate his success, however, the owner of the creatures—a gigantic, horned beast that has the ability to travel between the Underworld and the land of the living—wants the young wizard’s soul and the soul of the kingdom’s princess as payment for killing his pets. If the young wizard does not comply by the next full moon, the beast threatens to destroy everything and everyone in the kingdom.”
After the problem is described, authors will often throw in a twist to further intrigue the reader. Here’s my twist.
[Twist] “On the night of the full moon, the horned beast captures Kyra and forces Lorcan to choose to either kill it, which would also lead to Kyra’s death yet save the kingdom, or save Kyra, his new found love, but only in a way that would allow the beast to live and destroy the kingdom.”
End the blurb by setting a certain mood that will encourage the reader to purchase the book. There is a sense of urgency and pleasure. Here’s my attempt.
[Mood] “Find out what the young wizard does in this epic fantasy of magic, adventure, and love.”
Another pattern that many authors follow, especially if they write in the romance genre, from contemporary romance to fantasy romance, is one that focuses on the two main protagonists who are supposed to fall in love with each other. One character and her problem will be introduced. Then, the other character and his problem will be introduced. Here’s an example from my free romantic comedy, Finding Love in Costa Rica.
[Primary character and problem] “After her parents send Rachel to a tropical resort in Costa Rica for a high school graduation gift, she only wants to think about colorful sunsets, a blue ocean, and soft sand. But, her friend makes a costly bet that she can kiss and dump a guy at the resort before another flirtatious friend can do the same. To win, Rachel fakes a relationship with one of the resort’s vacationers.”
[Second character and problem] “Ethan Lockhart agrees to a pseudo-relationship with Rachel so that he can focus on his ROTC training and avoid an infatuated bridesmaid at his best friend’s wedding.”
Then, present the two characters together, but in a way that hints at the possibility that they may not end up together, or that there is something that they must overcome before they can realize their love. Here’s my attempt.
[Together…maybe] “Yet, after a number of romantic encounters with Rachel, he finds himself wanting a real relationship with her. He believes that, with a little work and a little help from above, he can make that happen.”
Other authors end the blurb with a tantalizing question about what the couple or primary character might do or lose if it doesn’t all work out. They also often phrase the question in a way that encourages the reader to find out what will happen.
The very last lines or paragraph of the blurb also sometimes reflect a little swagger–like, this story is a face-paced, unforgettable, joy ride of the classic theme of boy meets girl, but with a modern jaw-dropping twist.
The words used within the blurb are more effective when they sound positive, because they draw out positive emotions from the reader–emotions that will encourage them to buy the book. Avoid words that leave someone with depressed feelings.
Keep It Short with Short Sentences
Keep the blurb relatively short, too, because internet readers want things fast, and also use short sentences because internet readers will most likely skim the blurb. They are probably browsing many books and won’t take the time to read blurbs in depth. So, with a short blurb, maybe 150 to 250 words, and short sentences, readers will be able to get a sense of the story quickly and easily.
In the blurb, it is a skill to be able to generate the right balance between description and not giving too much away. After briefly summarizing the story line, leave the reader with a tantalizing cliffhanger. This will make them want to open the book, or at least read the first paragraph in the first chapter–meaning you would be one step closer to making a sale.
After the cliffhanger, you can relieve some anticipation by offering them a call-to-action that shows them the route to finding out what happens in the book. The sentence encourages the reader to read the story to learn what happens to the characters or what the character will do to solve his or her problem. Mine was the simple line: “Find out what the young wizard does in this epic fantasy of magic, adventure, and love.” The idea is that they will be encouraged to buy the book to relieve their curiosity.
What Do You Do to Write a Great Blurb?
So, that’s it: follow a pattern, include positive words, keep it short with short sentences, have a cliffhanger and show some swagger, and end with a call to action. Yet, there are many ways to write a great blurb. What has worked for you or have you thought was really good? Leave a comment below. We’d all appreciate it.
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