Writing advice

Rocking the Book Blurb

It’s sort of a universal truth for authors… We can knock out  60, 80, 100 thousand awesome words of story. But when it comes down to writing our cover blurbs, generally around 150 words, we feel overwhelmed, uninspired, even intimidated. Heck, as a professional copywriter, even I struggle with writing my own blurbs!

There’s more than one reason for this, and it has nothing to do with not being able to write. The main issue with blurbbing (we’re hereby making that a word) is that it’s almost impossible for any of us to create the kind of emotional distance from our work needed to see those elements that will most appeal to the would-be reader–who’s deciding to chose our books over a million others. We know why we love our books, but why should others love them?

Here are a few tips to help you craft a killer blurb:

Use a headline, or start with a question. As a separate element from your blurb, here’s an opportunity to catch a reader’s eye. People like to answer questions. They like to see if they know things. Pose a question and chances are they’re going to want to answer it.

Grab your reader from the first line. Even if you use a headline, you still need to hit the ground running. If a reader doesn’t feel compelled to read beyond the first sentence of your blurb, there just isn’t any way she or he is going to want to read the first page of your book.

Keep sentences short and succinct. No one should ever feel like they have to read your blurb more than once to understand it. Don’t pack sentences with too many words. No matter how gorgeously constructed, if you have a sentence that’s running 3 or more lines long, break it up!

Be careful of adjectives. Yes, you want to use sexy, fancy words to decorate your blurb, but use too many and all you’ve got is fluff.

Weave in choice words from early reviews. Are you collecting review quotes from beta readers and others? Why not take some choice words and make them part of your blurb. Like this:

A hilarious, heartwarming story that will “keep you laughing
till the last delightful page!” (Publishers Weekly–LOL).

Leave off on a note that makes readers want more. Don’t give away your whole story. Don’t spoil your blurb with spoilers. Give your reader just enough to go on to want to, well, go on to reading.

Ask readers for opinions. And don’t ignore these opinions. You can also post a blurb on your author page or on your blog. Just make sure what you’re posting isn’t what just popped out of your head. If you’re going to go public for opinions, be sure others have read your blurbs first. You don’t want to turn off your readers with writing that’s too raw.

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If you feel you’re still not hitting your mark, hire a professional. You want your product to go out there looking its best. It won’t matter how amazing it looks on the inside if you can’t get potential readers to crack (or click) open your book in the first place.

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2010_09_12_3614dFRANCINE LASALA has worked as a professional copywriter for more  than 20 years, for clients including Simon and Schuster, Perseus Book Group, Broadway Books, Kensington Books, Hachette, Publishers Clearing House, plus various book clubs including the Literary Guild, Rhapsody, and Black Expressions. She is currently taking on clients for copywriting, and offers reasonable indie rates. Contact her today: francine@francinelasala.com