All, right. Who here has to write a marketing blurb for their book? *raises hand*
The plain fact of the matter is that if you aren’t published by a large publishing house, most likely – if you are an author – you raised your hand. While I understand that for a small publishing house, hiring a blurb writer is expensive, I do think that there need to be some lessons in Blurbology.
What is Blurbology?
Well, frankly, I made that word up – but the fact of the matter is: unless your author name is known to a reader and you are an automatic ‘one-click’, you need a good blurb. And 99 out of 100 authors write shitty blurbs.
There’s a reason for that. Authors write the fiction and non-fiction within the covers of the book. That’s their forte. The blurb is PURE MARKETING. And most authors are NOT trained in marketing. I have a background in it and I still fail at times to write a blurb with the perfect hook for my own book.
The fact is, as authors we’re too close to our book to be objective about it. We tend to think every single thing about the book is important – and hopefully it is as far as the innards of said book are concerned. However, that won’t sell the book.
So what will?
The blurb do’s and don’t’s
1: DO NOT bore your reader. Don’t say “this story is about…” You’ve already lost a potential buyer because they don’t want to be TOLD. They want to be HOOKED.
2: It has to be intriguing, but doesn’t have to give anything away. You want to tease your reader in the blurb. Don’t give away the ending. Don’t give away the big surprises. But do tease. For instance:
Do not do this:
After the death of his father, Hamlet goes through major emotional discomfort. It gets worse when his mother marries his uncle. He sees a ghost of his father who tells him his step-father is the murderer and begins to go crazy. In the meantime, a girl he’s supposed to marry goes off the deep end and kills herself. Through his insanity, Hamlet dooms his entire family and his friends to death through his rash actions.
Are you yawning yet?
Do something like this:
Haunted by the king’s recent demise, Hamlet, the prince of Denmark is further pushed to the brink of insanity when his mother marries a man he thinks killed his father. Pushed further to the brink by the death of the woman he was meant to marry, he makes mistake after mistake, knowing if he doesn’t do things right, he might be the next one to fall.
Now, if you know the story of Hamlet, you’ll know there is a LOT left out of the blurb and that there is even a couple misnomers – NOT LIES – but hooks that you hope will not only encourage your reader to buy, but not give the game away. Perhaps those hooks may mislead slightly so that the truth of the matter surprises and delights the reader because it was not what they expected at all. (DO NOT LIE or purposefully mislead your reader. It will just piss them off and you’ll end up with bad reviews because of it.)
3: Your blurb should escalate the readers’ interest. If it loses someone, that part needs to be reworked.
4: Your blurb NEEDS to end in a sales hook. What’s a sales hook? It’s the final part of your blurb that makes a reader wonder what’s going to happen and be so intrigued that they BUY THE BOOK.
5: Your blurb should NEVER include reviews. I repeat NEVER! There are areas for reviews on websites – areas where you can enter the information and it will show up. A BLURB SHOULD NEVER INCLUDE A REVIEW. It will turn off a lot of readers and they will never get to the actual description of the book.
*A one liner that is a hook in and of itself that comes from a review would be a great way to lead off the blurb. BUt it needs to be tiny including the reference to where it came from and on the very next line be the blurb. Your potential reader has gone to the description to find out what the book’s about. NOT to find out what someone else has said about the book.
The blurb needs to excite the reader enough that they want to continue reading. It’s not prose. It’s marketing. It’s out there to sell the book. My books go through 3-5 drafts before I usually come up with something completely different that has more of a hook in it. The fact is, it’s easier to write someone else’s blurb than to write the one for your own book. It’s easier to see it from a Marketing point of view rather than an author’s.
Writing the Blurb
If you are a plotter, you can write the first draft of your blurb just from your outline. If you’re a pantser, you should wait until you’re done.
One thing I encourage: You need to distance yourself from your story before you write the blurb. I have seen so many people write this on Social Media “Just finished my draft. Am writing my blurb so I can submit it now.”
*bangs head on desk*
First off, besides the fact that you should NEVER submit a book that hasn’t gone through several beta or editing rounds, you should never write your blurb when you have just finished it. Put the draft away after the last revision. For a short story, put it away for a few weeks while you write something else. For a novel, put it away for a few months. You need to forget the book. Believe me, this is important. Then, read through it as if you were a reader. Make notes of the big things that grab your interest. USE those notes to write the first draft of your blurb. Then put the draft away and just focus on the blurb. Rewrite it, mark through it. Put it away. Rewrite. Send it to a friend or two and see if it excites them.
Unfortunately, writing a blurb has a bit of a science to it. You need to catch the reader in the first sentence, excite them, and leave them needing to know more. So, get out a huge chocolate bar and hit it, fellow authors. It takes time and trial, but you’ll get the hang of it. Hey, you could even partner with other authors (or marketing people, hint hint) so that they can help you write yours and you can help them write theirs.
Now, go write your blurb. It might help to go back to old blurbs and see how you could make them better.
This world needs better blurbology. I have read so many badly written blurbs lately, it makes me wince. Those books’ concepts sound like they might be interesting IF the blurb didn’t bore the hell out of me.
Okay, enough of blurbisms, I’m off to continue my current work in progress 🙂