How to write the perfect blurb
By Candice Robertson
How to write the perfect blurb - Feature Image

So, you want to know how to write the perfect blurb? While it’s true that no one knows your book better than you, writing a catchy blurb and directing it at your target audience takes a lot of practice, a lot of research and a lot of help from your literary friends. 

Sometimes, coming up with the right words for a book blurb can be more stressful than writing the book itself. That’s why Preflight Books have got you covered on the most important points to keep in mind while writing your blurb. We even give you a simple blurb template to help you get started!

What is a blurb?

Blurbs are a brief description of a book typically found on the back cover or within the book sleeve of a hardcover book. For e-books, the description is posted on a book’s purchasing page, along with the book cover and price. 

The blurb’s main purpose is to lure readers in and captivate them enough to buy the book. It is often referred to as a synopsis or book description.

If you want to know more about exactly what blurbs entail, check out our previous post “What is a blurb?”.

Top ten tips to write the perfect blurb

1. Know your genre

Depending on the type of book you’re describing, the content and style of your blurb will vary. The easiest way to get a clear idea of your genre’s best practices is to run a quick book description search to see what other writers in your genre have done. Keep in mind that techniques that work well for one genre will not necessarily work for another. Bullet points that work well in business book descriptions won’t compel readers to read a romantic novel. Likewise, the intrigue, suspense and hints at plot twists used in fiction book blurbs will not assure shoppers looking for self-help books that your book holds the solutions to their problems. Before you begin, start a collection of what you consider to be the best book blurbs for your category. Also note the popularity of books as you search.

2. Give readers what they want

Whether it’s for entertainment value or to learn more about a specific topic, people always have a purpose in mind when they’re in search of a book. Your job is to figure out what these reasons or motivations are and highlight how your book fulfils them. 

3. Start with a hook

If your first sentence is dull and uninteresting, chances are readers will not read the rest of the blurb, and they probably won’t buy the book either. Whether you start with something dramatic or something that establishes your expertise, your book description should make people want to read the rest of the blurb (and the book!).

4. Don’t summarise, entice

The blurb is not meant to be a summary of the book – that’s both boring and a spoiler! The blurb should highlight why readers should be reading your book right now, rather than what they can find inside. Avoiding spoilers is tricky, but you don’t want to give up your secrets and all of the fun stuff. Tell readers just enough about your content that they’ll want to know more. Teasing and temptation are your best friends here.

5. Aim for 150 words

A book description should be approximately a 150-word paragraph, according to the Amazon book description guidelines. A person’s general attention span and the time they’re willing to spare to read the blurb of a book are limited. So keep it short and sweet for e-books and print books alike, and try to stick to 100-250 words.

6. Avoid clichés and cheesy lines

As witty as some expressions and idioms may seem, a lot of them are overused and only elicit eye rolls. Try to steer clear of the ones that are worn out, especially if you want a blurb that stays fresh for months or years to come.

7. Write in the third person

This is an industry standard and quite easy to implement. Even if it is your own personal story, write your blurb in the third person.

8. Appeal to the reader’s emotions

Our earlier mention of fulfilling your reader’s needs still applies here, yet this time you are focusing on their emotional needs. Whether it be excitement, action, suspense, intrigue, passion, credibility or logic, emotions ultimately drive buyers. According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious. And most subconscious factors are in fact emotional.  

9. Use this template to create a book blurb that sells

If you’re looking for a book description template, look no further. The old plot diagram you studied in school (the same one used in every feature film) is the rhythm we consumers have grown used to and the one we find most satisfying. So, no need to search for another. Here’s a simplified version:

Triangle: process moves from Exposition/Introduction to Rising Action to Conflict to Climax to Falling Action/Denouement to Resolution/Conclusion
  1. Exposition: Set the tone by introducing your setting and/or characters. This could be introducing the protagonist of a story, or even establishing the author’s expertise. If the focus is on the reader, let them know that this book is about them and for them.
  2. Conflict and Climax: It wouldn’t be life without a few problems. Some conflicts are internal, like making personal decisions or healing emotional scars, while others are external, like dealing with difficult situations or getting past obstacles. Now is the time to get readers emotionally invested in your book and feel that it is relatable. 
  3. Resolution: Now that your reader feels uncomfortable with conflict, give them relief. Resolve the rising tension that shoppers feel when reading the beginning of your blurb and the conflicts therein, and give them hope that the solutions can be found in your book. Ultimately, the resolution and sense of satisfaction should come from buying the book.

10. Write more than one book blurb

When you’re done writing your blurb, write another one. Blurbs are short. And if you’re in the right mood, you can quickly churn out a couple of samples with vastly different tones and even content. Then show your family, friends and fans and get some feedback.

Need more help to write the perfect blurb?  Email us on info@preflightbooks.co.za. Also check out our post on “Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Blurb”.

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