If you’ve been an author for any length of time, you’ve probably learned the pure, untamed agony that is writing a blurb to now sell it to potential readers. Why is this? After all, you’ve written an entire book on this subject, why is it SO DIFFICULT to come up with a blurb?
Well, it probably took you tens of thousands of words to communicate the story, so distilling it down to its simplest points and putting it into a catchy, intriguing paragraph or two almost feels insulting. “It took me month(s)* to write this book and now I have to sell it to people? With a paragraph or two?”
Argh. But yes, you do. A book without a reader is not going to make anyone happy, least of all the person who poured all their feeling into writing it. So let’s walk through some steps that can hopefully help you in constructing your blurb and making the job less tedious.
A Guest Post By Robert J. Crane
1. Consistent Narrative Voice
If you’re funny in your story, try and bottle a little of that in your blurb. The point of the blurb is to attract the people who would like your book, and sounding like the book would sound is pretty key to that. If your book is futuristic sci-fi, you want to orient your blurb to capture that feel rather than writing in the old English style of a high fantasy. If a blurb is part of your marketing (and it is) try and use it to hit that target market rather than one that won’t be interested in your book.
2. Keep it Concise
A blurb should preferably be quick. If they give you 5,000 characters, try to avoid using them all. And, if you can say it faster, with more impact, do so. Getting the blurb done will only make you happier.
3. Get Inspired
Plagiarism is wrong. When it comes to writing your book, be original. But when it comes to writing your blurb? Taking a peek at other, successful books in your genre might be a good idea, especially if you’re stuck on the direction to take. Read five or ten of them from the best sellers in your genre, and decide which approach matches your book and your voice, then start building something from there. If these books are selling, their authors may know a thing or two about enticing readers, and you should definitely learn from the example of experts in your field whenever possible.
4. Don’t Get Dogged Down
Taking the essence of a novel you’ve spent scads of time writing and trying to funnel that into a couple paragraphs while making it as juicy for readers as possible…every author I know hates it. It’s the ultimate in short form storytelling, except you don’t even really get to lay down an ending. You just lead up to a cliffhanger and stop, expecting the reader to hopefully be so enticed by your blurb that they’ll find the ending in the pages of your book. If it takes you a few passes, don’t sweat it. It’s better to get it right than rush through. Don’t forget that trial and error can be your friend. Sometimes changing up a blurb will lead to better discoverability and improved sales. So find what works for you. But, at the same time, don’t drive yourself crazy with a million small edits.
5. But Don’t Give Up
When faced with an unpleasant task, it’s also natural to look for more pleasant things to do. Like vacuuming. The entire house. Then doing the dishes. And scrubbing the toilets. Wait, what was I supposed to be doing again? Writing a blurb? I’d prefer to work on the toilets, actually.
Hold your feet to the fire, though. You’ve written an entire book by this point, presumably; don’t stop short of the finish line. Do this last thing, and get your book up for sale.
When I was writing a blurb for my most recent book, You Can’t Go Home Again, I had to spend a little time doing each of these things in order to hit the right note for the audience. With some trial and error, time spent working on the voice, and maybe a little crazy-glue to keep myself in the chair to completion…I think I nailed it. And I’m sure you will, too. Because it’s not like you’re writing a whole new book here. It’s just a few final paragraphs. Go get it done!
Robert J. Crane is the author of over 50 novels, including the million-selling Girl in the Box/Out of the Box Series, the Sanctuary Series, and Southern Watch. He’s also the co-author of The Shattered Dome series, Liars and Vampires, and Ashes of Luukessia. In the rare moments when he’s not writing, he can be found agonizing over blurbs. You can find him online at www.robertjcrane.com.