There are three crucial “doors” an author must unlock so for book readers to increase their chances of gaining those readers’ attention and converting them from scrollers to purchasers.
The first door authors must unlock is a well-written, professionally edited (and proofread) book that fits nicely into its genre and category. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
The second door authors must unlock is a professionally designed, genre appropriate, high-quality, and compelling book cover. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
The third door authors must unlock is a finely polished book blurb that not only teases the story in a brief summary but grabs the reader by the eyeballs and forces them to click “BUY NOW.”
Since I’ve already covered the first two gateways a few times, I thought I’d give you all the juicy, helpful details on writing that eyeball grabbing blurb. (Okay, yeah. That sounded way grosser than I thought.)
What is a book blurb?
In the olden days (aka 2 years ago or more), there was somewhat of a debate on whether an author could or should use the same summary for both their back cover blurb and their book jacket blurb.
However, since self-publishing is more prevalent and more accessible to authors, and in-store purchases of hard copy books are declining, it is MY humble opinion that one well-written, edited, perfectly worded blurb that hits all the key points can absolutely be repurposed and used for both.
So, for the purposes of this blog post, when I say “blurb,” I’m referring to the half-page summary of your book which you absolutely can use for both your Amazon (and other) book descriptions AND your back cover description.
Why is a book blurb so important?
Way too often, authors (and some editors) don’t really pay as much attention to their blurb as they should, thinking, as long as it generally describes the plot and is not full of typos, it should be fine.
But that’s a slipper slope, my friend!
As an author, especially an indie author, one should NEVER think anything they write is “fine.”
We need to always be striving for the best we can possibly achieve.
More than that, as mentioned above, the blurb is one of the three main “doors” an author must unlock and open for their readers if they want their books to sell well, let alone be successful.
It’s the final deciding factor for potential book buyers because if they’ve been pulled in by your cover and title, and they’ve made it as far as to read your blurb, that means they’re at least interested.
If you play your cards right, that blurb…especially that last line…will make them throw all caution to the wind and purchase it immediately because they just have to know what happens next.
And no blurb is going to accomplish that unless you pull out all the stops, learn all you can about writing a proper blurb, and even use tools to make your blurb POP (yes, they exist – stay tuned for that)!
What’s the first thing I need to know about writing a good blurb?
Firstly, you want to keep your blurb at right around 300 words, give or take a few.
If you’re writing in a regular font at 12 points with no double spacing, this comes to less than a full page. If you’re not sure how to watch your word count, in Word, highlight the section of words and/or just look down in the very bottom left hand corner of your Word screen.
There, you can always instantly check your total word count or if highlighted, it shows both total and highlighted word count.
The reason is simple.
Too few words usually means you aren’t covering enough of the crucial details and the reader won’t have enough information to truly get engaged and interested in your story.
Too many words usually mean you have piled on erroneous details the reader doesn’t need and will get lost in, which will lead to…sadly…scrolling past it.
Also, your blurb should always be written in third person perspective. This means you should write from a third-party observer narrative style.
As in, “Reggie’s always known she was different, but everything changes the day she…” instead of “I’ve always known I’m different, but everything changed the day I…
It should also be written in present tense narrative style. By this, I mean that your verbs should all be present tense, not past. (See example above.)
These are the conventions.
While yes, you are welcome to experiment and “color outside the lines,” I highly recommend you wait to be so “creative” until you have an established audience and it’s not your first (second, or third) book.
Established readers are way more forgiving because they’ve already read your work and they know that whatever unique spin you try with your blurb, at the end of the day, your book will rock as always.
But new, first-time, early-career authors just don’t have that luxury yet.
How do I even begin writing a great blurb?
Just as you know by now that I’m a huge proponent of outlining your story first, however lightly, rather than diving in headfirst, the same applies to your blurb.
Using the guide below, try a short, simple outline of the key events of your story first.
Introduction/hook – (one or two catchy sentences that will grab readers’ attention and pull them in)
Paragraph 1 – introduce protagonist in her ordinary world, briefly show her ordinary “everyday” struggle(s), and at the end of that paragraph, end with either how great her world SEEMS or how OMINOUS it seems, until…
Paragraph 2 – throw the conflict at her with statements that suddenly shift the narrative from her seemingly normal life to what she’s facing or up against (in other words, start with the inciting incident, then 2-3 succinct sentences that give more details, then…
Paragraph 3 – tell readers what the protagonist must do to overcome/win/defeat/save the day, what’s standing in her way, and what is the only path to winning/defeating the antagonist visible to her at that time, and finally…
Last line – this should be where you hit the reader with what’s at STAKE for the protagonist, which should read something like, “If Sara doesn’t find the magical cure and defeat the dragon, those she loves, and possibly her entire world, could be consumed in flames.” (But obviously, write yours as uniquely as possible.)
The reason the last paragraph (sentence or two) is so crucial is that, if written properly, this will be the one line that pushes potential buyers into action takers and make them think,
“Dang! Now I have to buy this to find out what happens next!”
Then, go through and weed out any details that aren’t absolutely crucial for the reader to know to be drawn into the plot.
You mentioned tools to make my blub POP!?
I sure did.
If you’re publishing on Amazon/KDP (as well you should be, at least for book one), there really aren’t a ton of options for bedazzling your blurb.
However, Dave Chesson, whom I’ve worked with some in the past, has proven to be somewhat of a software/program genius!
He’s the Founder/CEO of Kindlepreneur.com, which is the be-all/end-all when it comes to self-publishing advice for authors, and which features several great online gadgets and tools.
His latest, Atticus (released November 2021), takes every writing app, editing app, formatting app, and more, rolls them into one neat, user-friendly interface, where authors can write, edit, and even format their manuscripts.
(If you want this great program, you can CLICK HERE. Now is the time, though, as more features are coming soon, so lock in your rate before they go up!)
But one of Dave’s earlier projects he created for authors is his Blurb Generator. You can (and should) use this app to add bolding and italics where appropriate to emphasize your hook and other key lines. For non-fiction, you can even add bullets and numbers! It’s totally free for everyone, and you can FIND IT HERE.
Any other tips on writing a great, engaging blurb?
The main idea here is to never, ever rush the process.
Start drafting your blurb as soon as you finish your manuscript and it’s off to the editor.
There’s nothing to be gained by just churning out 300 words that seem to summarize your story adequately.
Remember, we’re aiming for AMAZING, wonderful, unique, awesome…and any other superlatives that are synonymous with great!
Just okay or adequate is not going to cut it in any aspect of your writing journey…especially not with your blurb.
If you’re ever in doubt or just need some inspiration, I highly recommend doing a search on Amazon for books in your category and genre, finding highly popular books (high ratings, lots of ratings, and bestsellers), looking at how experienced, successful authors have written theirs, and make notes on commonalities you see to draw on for inspiration.
Check out this great blurb by Colleen Hoover for her book, VERITY (you can click to buy if you are so inclined)!
And last but not least...
One final note on blurbs and editors. (Like my not so subtle segue there?)
Check with your editor or any editors you’re considering, and ask them how much they will charge you in addition to your manuscript editing fee, for “minor edits,” such as your blurb.
A professional and experienced editor who really wants to help authors should offer some sort of discount.
However, in case you weren’t aware, once an author sign with me for manuscript editing or author coaching, I have a whole goodie bag filled with bonuses and extras I throw in pro bono (free of charge)! Ask any of my 300+ clients.
They can tell you that I never charge extra fees for editing things like blurbs, biographies, or even website content! True story!
So, if this piques your interest, and you’re on the lookout for a coach or book editor in the near future, please be sure to read all about my services (HERE for coaching and HERE for editing), my bio, and anything else, and if you feel like we’d be a good match, fill out the short form on my Contact Page!
I or someone on my team will always respond within 24 hours (if not sooner) to invite you to submit your first five pages for a free sample edit/quote or set up your totally free, no obligation coaching consultation.
We sometimes have immediate availability, but most times, we’re booked out 2-4 weeks in advance.
And I’d love to use my many years of experience in this industry to help take your writing career to the next level and make sure your book is anything but a flop!