What’s a blurb? And how do you write good ones?
There are two ways ‘blurb’ is defined. Increasingly, the American one is what I would have referred to in the past as a pull-quote: someone says “Boy, this is a great book! 10/10, read with a box of tissues!” Ideally, someone famous says that, and you have it on the book jacket or the website page to make sure whoever’s considering buying your book knows that someone they’ve heard of really liked it.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
The older American, and the British, definition of a blurb is the short, enticing text on the back of the cover of your paperback, or on the website page, that teases readers with some understanding of what the book’s about, leading them on to read it.
This short, enticing bit of text is also useful if you’re taking a traditional approach to publishing and sending your work to an agent or editor. If you’re writing a query letter, part of it – the first part, the part that fits inside the five to seven seconds of attention your query gets before being rejected or considered – is the blurb. That’s an enormous amount of pressure to put on a short paragraph!
Marketing text for your book is an important part of selling it to readers. This is something that subscription authors can ask the editor for assistance with! In the second half of this article, I’ll offer some tips and hints for how to learn to write good marketing text.
Here’s an example of one for a nonexistent book.
ASSAULT AND BUTTERY
A Detective Baker Crumb Novel
Detective Crumb’s up to his belly laugh in hard rolls this time! Baker, the detective with a night job in his mother-in-law’s bakery, has a double crime ahead of him. And this time, both his bosses are on his tail! With a murder to solve by day and a stolen cash register to answer for at night, it’s up to Crumb to discover whether they come together in a single, devastating question: who will speak for the bread?
Hopefully, the idea that this is a comedy murder mystery (one of life’s less easily written genres) comes through. The blurb should also make the reader interested in answering the questions it poses, and finding out more about the character.
Next time, we’ll talk about how to learn to write snappy, concise blurbs that don’t give away too much and leave the reader asking for more.