When it comes to selling lots of books, there are 3 things you need to get right before you begin any marketing efforts. The cover, the title, and the blurb are the triumvirate of closing the sale for books.
You need to get all 3 right so that when customers land on your book page, they just HAVE to buy your book, and don’t get distracted by the shiny ‘also bought’ section before they’ve purchased your book. While most authors have the cover and title nailed, there’s a skill to writing a great book blurb that a lot of indie authors haven’t mastered yet.
It’s not a synopsis that simply summarises the plot. You want to describe the plot without giving away too much of the story, while still giving them enough detail to hook them into buying. Simple, right?
Well, no: that’s why most indie writers will say writing the blurb is the hardest part of writing a book. If writing a good one doesn’t come naturally to you, then don’t worry. We’ve put together this handy guide to writing a blurb that will have your self-published book flying off the digital shelves.
Step 1: What is the book ABOUT?
Write down what your book is about in a short paragraph of no more than 200 words. Don’t think too hard about it, just answer the question ‘what is your book about?’
Now read it back. Ask yourself this question: ‘does it just tell you what happens in the book, or does it truly capture the feeling in the book?’
You want to capture the feeling of your book with language appropriate to the book’s genre. A crime thriller blurb should be a little tense and dark, a sweet contemporary romance should be hopeful and emotionally uplifting.
If your initial paragraph was more about the action and events in the book, write it again but give more emphasis to the feeling of the book and not the action.
Step 2: Make it ACTIVE, not PASSIVE
Seek and destroy any passive verbs. Your blurb is short, so it needs to be punchy and active. Keeping your verbs active will make your writing clearer, more concise, and more interesting for the reader.
Go through the paragraph and take out as much of the passive voice as you can. If you need a quick refresher on active and passive voice, Grammar Girl has a great guide here.
Step 3: Give it a tagline
Now we’re going to refine the paragraph you wrote earlier. Your blurb should start with a tagline, a standalone line that captures the very essence of the book. Roughly ten to fifteen words long, this should grab your reader by the… umm… eyes - and make them NEED to read on.
It’s normally one sentence, but it could be two short ones. If the paragraph you wrote earlier already has a great sentence that could be a tagline, then use it here.
One phone call can change everything.
Step 4: Hook the reader
Ok, so you grabbed them with your tagline. Now your hook has to keep them reading on. In roughly 25-30 words tell them what’s at stake, or the pinch point your character finds themselves in. This is the elevator pitch of your book.
The last time James saw Emily was their wedding day, six years ago. Now his estranged wife is battling for her life in the ICU, and he’s responsible for the son he never knew existed.
Step 5: Seal the deal
This is where you can use the paragraph you write earlier, with perhaps a few tweaks. Cover the key points of the story without giving any spoilers. Keep the language short, snappy and hyperbolic, and the tone should match your genre.
This is a great place to add a few keywords if you like, but make sure they work with the blurb and don’t overdo it.
Make the final line a cliff-hanger of sorts to give the reader no choice other than to read the book to find out exactly what happens.
When James gets the call, his first reaction is to say no. Emily shattered his world when she vanished on their wedding night, leaving him with nothing but a letter and a hardened heart. He spent six years rebuilding his life, and there’s no room in it for a kid.
But he can’t abandon his own flesh and blood, so he takes the boy in anyway. Through the eyes of his son, he starts to see the joy in life again. By the time Emily wakes up, James is determined to never let him go.
Will the secret that tore Emily and James apart six years ago be their undoing now, or can a child’s innocence give them a second chance at romance?
So, there you have it, a 5-step hands-on guide to writing a book blurb that will have your self-published books flying off the virtual shelves.
Next time you’re faced with writing a blurb, follow the steps above to write a blurb that converts browsers to readers.
Written by Lisa Flynn. Lisa is a freelance writer, content marketer, and social media manager who developed a love of reading and writing from an early age. She has self-published over eleven racy novels under several top-secret pen names and also ghostwrites in the romance and erotica genres. She has partnered with Babelcube to publish novels in additional languages.