You’ve spent a good chunk of time writing your book, having it edited, revising it, sending it to beta readers, revising again, editing again, and repeat. Now you’ve typed the last two words: The End. What happens next? Hint: it involves more writing. It’s the book blurb.
The saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But this is somewhat of a mistruth. Readers do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. We are more likely to pick up a book if the cover catches our attention and draws us in. But that is only the first step in getting your book into the readers’ hands.
The book blurb is arguably the most important aspect of selling your book. After looking at your cover, the potential reader will turn the book over and read the back. If the copy on the back doesn’t immediately grab the readers’ attention, they will put the book down.
A book blurb is essentially a teaser—a means of selling your book to potential clients. Your perfect book blurb should pique the readers’ attention and leave them intrigued. This article discusses many tips on how to write the perfect book blurb.
What is a book blurb?
A book blurb is the enticing text that will persuade a potential reader to buy (and hopefully read) your book. It’s usually a paragraph or two, with just enough information to make someone want to read more. Book blurbs are typically between one hundred to three hundred words.
Your book blurb will appear on the back cover. It should include important information about your book that tells a story without revealing too much.
Here are the main things to include in your book blurb:
- Introduce the main characters
- Introduce the protagonist’s main conflict
- Mention what is at stake for the protagonist
- Make sure the genre is clear
- Use active language to hook readers
Why it is important to have a good book blurb?
There is a lot of marketing material that goes into selling your book. To promote your book, you should have an author’s website, an author bio, and be active on social media to promote your book, to name a few. If you want to go the traditional publishing route, you will need to write a book synopsis as well as a query letter.
The book blurb will be used on all of your marketing material. It will be used as the book description in online bookstores and on all media sites. As mentioned in Best Book Marketing Tips, the book blurb is what may compel someone to purchase your book without having to skim through it.
Tips for writing the perfect book blurb
Imagine being asked to write two paragraphs of engaging copy for your three-hundred-page epic fantasy novel. Not easy, right? This is why many authors struggle when it comes to writing a book blurb. You know your story and your characters better than anyone else, but writing a book blurb can be a roadblock.
Please note that book blurbs should be written in the third person point of view. Never use the first person.
Introduce your main characters
While it may seem obvious, your main characters must be mentioned in your book blurb. Many authors make the common error of writing a vague book blurb that doesn’t offer any information about the character.
Let’s look at the following book blurb:
The year is 2225. The Earth has become uninhabitable as a result of a decades-long nuclear war. Only five hundred people have survived, and they must now begin anew on the distant planet of Rockland. The atmosphere is thin, water is scarce, and the new settlers must learn how to survive. Will they be able to build a new society, or will they succumb to the elements?
While the concept of the story is intriguing and the genre (sci-fi) is obvious, this book blurb does not mention any characters. Readers want to know who the story is about, so be sure to include the protagonist in your book blurb.
Introduce the protagonist’s main conflict
Readers won’t know all of the trials and tribulations your protagonist goes through on their journey unless they read the book from cover to cover. But everyone loves drama and tension—that is what sells—so you need to include the protagonist’s main conflict in your book blurb.
In the above example, a nuclear war has rendered the Earth uninhabitable. That is a conflict. But you need to take it a step further and introduce the protagonist’s main conflict.
Let’s look at the example book blurb with some changes:
The year is 2225. The Earth has become uninhabitable as a result of a decades-long nuclear war. Only five hundred people have survived, and they must now begin anew on the distant planet of Rockland.
Tristan is a soldier in the Utopian Army and a member of the taskforce in charge of spearheading the new settlement. But an unexplained tragedy has put Tristan in the crosshairs as the prime suspect in a failed mission. Sergeant Moore is suspicious of Tristan’s loyalties to the mission and will stop at nothing to bring him to justice.
The air is thin, the water is scarce, and the new settlers must figure out how to survive. Will they be able to build a new society, or will they succumb to the elements? Tristan must now learn how to navigate this new world as an outsider, and proving his innocence will be the most difficult task he has ever faced.
You’ll note in the above example that there are more specifics that inform readers about the story. Even though only eighty words were added, these additions have significantly improved the book blurb.
What is at stake?
Not only should you include the main conflict in your book blurb, but also what is at stake for the protagonist.
The revised example book blurb now offers insight into Tristan’s external and inner conflict. Let’s look at what has been added:
- The protagonist is named.
- Details about the protagonist have been added.
- A tragedy occurred.
- The antagonist has been named.
- The conflict has been added.
These details reveal a lot about the book without giving too much away. We now know that a tragedy occurred, the details of which haven’t been revealed, but it involves Tristan’s character. The antagonist, Sergeant Moore, complicates Tristan’s story arc even further. What is at stake if Tristan can’t prove his innocence?
When writing your book blurb, be more specific about what your story is about. This will not only strengthen your book blurb but will also make it more enticing to readers.
Don’t give everything away
Think of a book blurb like a movie trailer. A movie trailer is one to two minutes long and introduces the characters, the main theme, the genre, and the conflict. But have you ever watched a trailer and thought, “They just showed the whole movie”? How likely are you to see the film if everything is revealed in the trailer?
The first thing to consider is that a book blurb is not a summary. The plot of your novel should not be summarized in your book blurb. A book synopsis is a detailed outline of your story that includes all of the specifics. But a book blur should be brief and to the point, and it should never reveal any plot twists or how the book ends.
So approach your book blurb as if it were a movie trailer. You want to tell a story in your blurb without revealing the mystery. Your book blurb should make readers want to learn more about your characters and your story. Give your readers just enough that will entice them to bite.
Make sure the genre is clear
This may seem like another obvious tip, but you would be surprised how many blurbs I edit that are too vague and the genre is not clear. If you are writing a sci-fi story—like the example book blurb in this article—the genre is pretty obvious.
But if you were writing a young adult sci-fi story, the book blurb needs to reflect that the story is intended for a young adult audience. It would be a very different story if Tristan was in his thirties and married instead of sixteen and coming of age.
Knowing your book genre and your target audience is essential when writing your book blurb.
Read book blurbs
Writing a perfect book blurb takes some practice. If you’re having trouble coming up with a book blurb, you may need to just step away from it for a few days.
The best piece of advice for writing your own book blurb is to read other book blurbs! Go on Amazon and read as many book blurbs as you can, especially in your genre. Go to the bookstore or the library and pick up a book at random and read the blurb. Notice how some blurbs stand out more than others.
Now that you have enough tips, it’s time to get started on writing your perfect book blurb!