WRITING BOOK BLURBS

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).[2] 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.

Length

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.

Content

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.

Hook

What will pull the reader into buying your book? Tap into their emotions.

Third-person

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.

Research

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.

Or

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?

89 thoughts on “WRITING BOOK BLURBS

  1. Pingback: Writer’s Tips, April Edition – Book Blurbs, Trailers, BookBub, Canva, Formatting, More! – DGKayewriter.com

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  3. Always, always a problem for me, Denise. And I suspect most of us feel the same way. Thanks for shedding some light on what kinds of things to do, and which ones to avoid. I’m definitely saving this for future reference. Excellent advice! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah blurbs, the part of writing everyone seems to hate. When I wrote the blurb for While the Bombs Fell I didn’t know it was considered difficult to write a good blurb. I modelled mine on the blurb of Little House on the Prairie which was a part of the inspiration for my book. Subsequently, I have had help from my developmental editor for the blurbs of my books.

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  5. Ah, the dreaded blurb. You give some great examples of a blurb that doesn’t entice but gets better as you work on it. I think writing a good blurb is immensely important, and a good blurb is a sign of a good writer (and thus, a good book to read!) Thanks for the great post

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  6. To me, blurbs are second only to the cover. A blurb needs to create enough interest to hopefully get a sale, but if not, at least get the reader to sample the first pages.
    I like a good tagline to start it out, and then a couple of ‘short’ paragraphs to give me an idea what the story will be about. If it’s funny, sad, action oriented, steamy; the blurb is where we should get that information.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Good idea to start with the short tagline, Jacquie 🙂 You are right if the blurb can’t get a sales but hopefully it will interest the would-be readers enough to get them to sample the offered chapter samples. We learn a lot in those few words!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a fantastic piece on the dreaded blurb, Denise. It truly is almost as difficult to write as writing the story itself. I put it off until it’s absolutely needed. And then, I usually go through 355,000 versions (give or take a few thousand). 🙄 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

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  8. Pingback: Tips on Writing Blurbs - SeaQuill Writers, LLC

  9. I hate writing blurbs and agree that they’re harder to write than an entire novel. One thing I like to do is have a tag line. This is the one I’m toying with for my WIP. “Connected by the past, torn by the present.” I’ve done those with all my blurbs.

    Great post, Denise.

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  11. Writing a blurb is like watching an elephant shape-shift into a firefly. The process includes a lot of bone-crunching, fat-melting agony, but if it works, the reader will be attracted to the light. It takes me forever to come up with blurbs, and I only hope they’ll attract readers. Great tips, Denise! I’d want to read the book you wrote the last blurb for. Have you written it yet?

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  12. Ah, yes, the dreaded book blurb. I agree that the blurb can often be more difficult to write than the story itself. You’re trying to reduce thousands of words into a mere hundred or two. It’s crazy to imagine! Your pointers are perfect, though, Denise. You’ve given a great description and some excellent examples.

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  13. Great summary of the elements that go into the dreaded blurb, Denise. And your examples of bad blurbs were truly awful. Lol. I love your recommendation to read the blurbs of popular books in your genre. I’ve found that super helpful although I still feel like my blurbs are far from perfect. Great post. Good luck with your blurb!

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  14. I’ll be very honest… I’m in the minority. I don’t really shop for books by cover (though I do sometimes let dreadful covers deter me). I primarily evaluate books by their blurbs, so to me, they’re even more important than the eye candy on the front. Great post about blurbs.

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    • They are so important! If I’m not sure about a purchase the blurb can sell me or not. Lately when I’m reading a blurb it’s because of a recommendation and what I do next depends heavily on those few words. Thanks, Staci 🙂

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  15. I agree 100% with you. I always read the blurb before making my decision to purchase. I try not to struggle with my own, but I don’t feel like I’m particularly good at it either. Love your tips, and I’ll consider them on my next blurb.

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    • Thanks, Craig 🙂 Yes, I always read that blurb before hitting the purchase button too. It’s a different skill to write one, but who knows the story better than the one who wrote it? I have to be careful when writing one because I hate to give anything away and you have to share something of the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m another one who dreads blurb writing! I’ve just had a look at the word count of my three books and they’re all under 100. Perhaps I need to add more ‘carroty’ words to lure the reader in! Another great topic, Denise. x

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    • Thanks, Alex 🙂 They are so hard, and signal they end of your creation, which means it’s getting close to release and marketing. These are just suggested word counts, if a blurb works under or over I wouldn’t worry about it! Xo

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I agree with you, Denise, the blurb is often harder to write than the book itself. And don’t even get me started on the logline. 🙂 You gave some great examples here. The one in first person is better than the third person, but as you say, it doesn’t pull me in. You hit the nail on the head when you said the blurb needs to create some emotion in the potential reader. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It really can be harder to write than the book. I was just thinking about a logline and haven’t even begun with that! First person was fun to write and I could see it working if done right if the author was able to tug on those emotions. Thank you, Jan. 🙂

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  18. For the most part, I don’t mind writing book blurbs. If I sit down and concentrate they usually come fairly easily. They’re never perfect the first time, but close enough that with some tweaking I get them where I want them.

    Lately, I’ve been noticing a trend for longer blurbs, and I definitely think sticking to 200 words or under is ideal. Too many more and it starts to feel like a synopsis. I’ve also read a number of blurbs that didn’t deliver the promised story. As a result I ended up feeling disappointed or cheated when I finished the book. After a cover, a blurb is what draws me to a book, so they’re definitely a key element of marketing. It’s worth investing the time to get them right.

    Great examples, Denise!

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are so lucky blurbs come naturally to you:) It does take a few polishes just like the book did you are so right. I’m with you about the longer blurbs, it isn’t a place to summarize when someone is deciding whether to buy it or not. Yes, I’ve been disappointed by some blurbs too that don’t match up to a book. I’ve wondered before if it was written by a person who hadn’t the story. Thank you, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post, Denise. Your examples are perfect. I think the blurb is more important than the book cover. I always read the blurb, check on the genre, and then look at the reviews. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Gwen 🙂 Yes, it has to be the place where we find the genre of what want to read or not. Reviews can be the tipping point if the blurb didn’t sell me and I see someone I trust opinion there.

      Liked by 1 person

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