Five Steps to an ImPerfect Book Blurb

Written By: Admin - Sep• 07•14

How to make certain your book blurb is the worst thing you have ever written.

Subtitled: After all, the last thing you want your blurb to do is represent your best writing.

Sub-subtitled: Jackie and Carolyn go searching Amazon…


  1. Compose run-on sentences
  2. Misspell words and use bad grammar
  3. Tell instead of show
  4. Confuse the reader
  5. And best of all…
    insert plenty of author intrusion/asides into your book blurb just in case the reader doesn’t get it. Because insulting them really works.

Here is an example of three out of the six, author intrusion, bad grammar and and misspelled words in a book blurb on Amazon:

NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER. It does contain love scenes and fowl language since it portrays real events with authentic people.

Parental Guidance of 16 is advice.

The really nice thing about this one is that it wastes our time with a cliche too.

How to clutter your book description/blurbs with asides or author intrusion

XXXX is a cozy mystery/suspense novel that mixes fact with fiction.

Yeah, I know it’s a novel, and I know what genre I bought. And actually, um, most books mix fact with fiction. If it’s really important, tell me somewhere else–like in Author’s notes in the back of the book. By that time I might be impressed how the author wove fact and fiction to create a great story.

A novel of approximately 100,700 words.

No kidding, I couldn’t tell that from looking inside.

Have fun confusing the reader

XXX, a teenage orphan girl, has escaped the degradation of New York’s back alleys to live free in the glorious northern mountains. He hates all that is white…

If you’re going to tell instead of show

do add some extra annoyances in your blurb and mix verb tenses in a fabulous run on sentence.

XXXXX is a love story set in 18** about xxxx, the shy London born dress designer to the rich and royal who had her fortune stolen and is forced to move to America where she meets XXXX, a proud, handsome Lakota warrior who is torn between two worlds.

Lots of lovely passive case here too, I really want to hate this book.

And another thing

Do compose a blurb to tell readers how great your book and what to do to read it.

This book is a page turner. Set aside time to open a bottle of wine, sit in your favorite spot and dive into a world of long ago, a different place and time. Last sentence:  …a story and action that will keep you breathless.

Here is an AVP review on the above book:

I have NEVER read a book so poorly edited. I could barely read this book because of a lack of it. I’m not talking about a few misspelled or missing words. The entire book reads as a rough draft. There are numerous times where the character’s name changes back and forth i.e. XXX XXX changes to XXXX and Black XXXXX changes to Black XXXX. The author often uses commas as a period. Punctuation as a whole is incorrect or missing, excludes the “s” off of possessives.  Not to mention the constant misspelling or misuse of words, i.e. attacked/attached. There are spaces in the middle of words and no spaces between sentences. But don’t take my word for it, just do the “look inside” feature to see how poorly this piece was done-something I should have done first.

By Golly! That’s the kind annoyed reviewer you want to see. Bet she forgot to grab that bottle of wine. Honestly, some readers just won’t be told how to read.

What do you reckon? Did we miss some of your blurb pet peeves? What makes you dismiss a book before even ‘looking inside?’

Don’t hold back! Let us know in the comments…

(Next week, the Blurb Doctor will be IN with some tips on getting it right and hooking in readers.)


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  1. Oh my goodness. It’s not funny, but I couldn’t help but laugh a few times. Fowl play. LOL!

  2. Mary Smith says:

    Loved it, Carolyn, and it made me laugh. I hate writing blurbs!

    • KJD says:

      Me too, Mary.

      I’m afraid if you stick the words, ‘vampire’, ‘netherworld’ or ‘apocalypse’ in there anywhere, you’ll probably put me off. 🙁


  3. Best laugh I’ve had in a while! (Thank God none of those excerpts were mine!) Autocorrect’s fault or not, some amazing goofs make it into published manuscripts. I chortled over “Sir Nigel was a country squirrel” (instead of “squire.”) And how could I forget the poor poisoning victim who was desperate to find an “anecdote”? After all, who wouldn’t enjoy an entertaining little story while dying? 😀

  4. Jackie Weger says:

    It is funny because we are reading it and it is NOT our book. Like watching somebody slip on a banana peel. We don’t want the person to be hurt, but we are conditioned to laugh at prattfalls. I did some checking on the blurb with fowl instead of foul and discovered English is not her first language. So! I forgive the author that slip. But not the clutter. I also discovered there is an editor. My suggestion is: Run that blurb past the editor. We sometimes forget to do that. I am so looking forward to next week’s post. I need all the help I can get to compose a blurb.

  5. Oh Dear, glad this wasn’t me. I am hopeless at blurbs but I do try really hard to make them reasonably good.

  6. Jackie Weger says:

    Right this minute I have titles with an online publisher and the blurbs suck. The first blurbs I composed for my indie titles were awful. What I love about indie publishing is that we can revise and tweak until we get a blurb that reflects our titles and get it right. What annoys me and saddens me is too often indie authors will not revisit their blurbs. There are ways to get a heads up. Submit a title to Indies Unlimited. IU vets every single title/cover/blurb before accepting it for promotion. If IU accepts your title for promotion, you’re golden.

  7. Donna Fasano says:

    I agree that the packaging is VERY important. Think about it. If a book cover does not grab the reader, that reader won’t take notice. Once the cover grabs the reader, if the blurb is poorly written, the reader will move on.

    I often rewrite the book descriptions for the books I promote on Awesome Romance Novels blog. I have often considered started a “blurb writing” business, but I just don’t have time. lol

    No matter how you look at it, books must have an interesting cover and a compelling blurb. Great post!

  8. Now that is a great idea for a business, Donna, I’d hire a blurb writer! As you say, it’s the next thing to grab out attention after the cover. I make most of my reading decisions based on how well-written the blurb is.

  9. Joanne Hill says:

    Blurb writing is like writing a synopsis with a query – something you tend to leave until you finish the book, and then you’re in trouble! Pays to start work on it as you go along, I reckon and not leave it until the end – also like the bibliography/correct citations in a research project, too – it can all come as a horrible shock when you think, yay, it’s over… but it’s not!!

  10. Mike Markel says:

    Following Joanne’s comment, I wonder if anyone thinks of the blurb as the FIRST thing to write–before you start to even plan the book. Like the pitch for the Tom Hanks movie Splash: Man falls in love with a mermaid.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Mike: That is a good idea. I often don’t even have a title for book when I’m writing it.The first item on my plate is to get my characters talking…I spend hours trying to come up with a title. Sometimes it show up in the book. Sometimes not. But Boy! Starting with a blurb would be terrific.
      Jackie Weger

      • Jackie Weger says:

        Look at our posts in this thread. I see where I’ve made typos. I’m not selling you a book now. But we make them and we don’t see them right away. We may never catch them. But a reader or a reviewer or a promoter will. A badly or hurriedly composed blurb can keep a terrific book off of a top promo site. It happens.
        Jackie Weger

    • Rosie Dean says:

      I think it might be a good idea to write the blurb early on. Why? Because I once wrote a blurb, after the event, and it made my book sound much better than it actually was. I thought, Oh dear, I wish I’d written it like that. As a result, I went back in and reworked the book to improve it.

  11. I’m going to rewrite all of my blurbs. I think a new blurb might draw in a reader who isn’t quite convinced yet. It can’t hurt – thanks for the advice!

  12. KJD says:

    Wonderful blog, Jackie.

    Blurbs are so difficult to get right.

  13. Amy Vansant says:

    I don’t know, I appreciate it when someone warns me about fowl language. I hate it when I’m halfway through a book and all of a sudden it’s “chicken” this and “turkey” that…

  14. One of the best things I have done when reading my own rough drafts, (looking for typos, etc.) is to read the MS or blurb in as large a font as I can stand to stare at. Typos literally JUMP off the page. Thanks for this post, Jackie!

  15. Dale Furse says:

    Oh dear, I’m glad mine wasn’t there either. I do love that we can tweak and rewrite anything. So if a blurb does suck we have a way of rectifying it with ease. Yay!

  16. Pete Barber says:

    I just finished a neat book called: “Hook, Tagline, and Sinker.” entirely focused on writing a good book description. I thought it was both unusual (to focus on that one area) and well done–with a cookbook/recipe approach. Here’s a link if you’re struggling for inspiration:

  17. Jackie Weger says:

    Thanks, Pete. I’m headed over to look at right now.

  18. Deborah Cox says:

    I dread writing a blurb as much as I dread writing a synopsis. I know how important it is but I’m just not good at it. That’s why I have a fellow writer or two on standby to help revise or even rewrite before I use it anywhere. What turns me off in a blurb for a book that I probably would have liked otherwise is poor writing. Plain and simple.

  19. I love this topic!! My favorite deadly blurb goes something like this: “General Zork of the Booberry Galaxy has taken the mystical Squirtbottle Amulet to fulfill the Prophecy of the Ancient Tablenapkins. The Imperial Mouseketeers, led by the Bouncyball Faction, must spirit away the 8-Plug Powerstrip to the Oracle of BBQ before the entire Febrezian planet of Nosebleed meets its DOOM!” I get about four words into those before my entire brain shuts down. Authors who fall in love with their own mythology, unless they’re George Lucas (and even he lost me with that whole Anakin fiasco), must be careful not to dump it on the rest of us in big, indigestible globs.

  20. […] to reviewers–who may or may NOT find your book cozy or thrilling or a pleasure to read.  Go HERE and HERE to read a two part series on creating the worst and best of  book […]

  21. […] with other successful authors. They work at being authors. They work at writing good books. Their book descriptions and covers are superb. Those authors join together to create boxed sets and promote the heck out […]

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  23. Susan Tarr says:

    Arghhh! Back to the drawing board! I reckon writing a blurb is harder than writing the whole book. I’m not alone in that either! As many times as we think we have it correct is the number of times we must go back and re-write the blessed thing all over again. Thank you, Jackie!

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