Book Blurbs Revisited

Written By: Admin - Mar• 22•14

A good book blurbSo we had some fun with book blurbs last week. Just on the off chance you want to compose a blurb that coaxes a reader to buy your book, here are a few suggestions.

1) Always compose a book blurb in present tense. Here’s why: Present tense suggests immediacy: Something is happening right now. Don’t miss it!

Example: A serial killer has come to Connecticut. He is watching, honing his skills, waiting, for the perfect time to make them pay for what they’ve done. And when he’s through, home will never be sweet again. (35 words) … Don’t Be Afraid by Rebecca Drake.

2) Introduce the two main characters in the first couple of sentences. Tag them with their names (and ages if appropriate) and one flaw. Briefly describe the catalyst that brings the two together. Mention a third character if that character is a villain who will keep the characters apart, prevent a mystery from being solved or has the answer to the crime, betrayal etc.

3) A blurb needs to describe the essence of the story. Two paragraphs and 300 words is the ideal composition for a blurb. Less is better.

Example: The murder of a successful advertising executive leads Virgil Flowers to the unlikely scene of the crime: a peaceful and bucolic wooded resort. But one with as many suspects as secrets. (31 words) …Rough Country by John Sanford.

4) Remember that old adage “Put your best foot forward?” A book blurb is your story’s footprint. It speaks to the reader. It tells if you know how to write or NOT. Most blurbs can be read and grasped in fifteen seconds or less. That’s all the time you get to impress the reader. It is the most important fifteen seconds of your book’s life. Ask a few other writers or close fans you respect to read it, critique it and make suggestions. Send your finished blurb to your ereader from your computer. Wait a couple of days before you read it. Surprise!  You will find an error in grammar, punctuation, verb tense or dropped words as ‘the’ or ‘a’.

5) Okay. You’ve produced the best blurb you can. Not all of us create great blurbs. We write books, we write long. Blurbs can be edited. Here’s a tip: Read the title’s reviews. Some reviewers grasp the essence of a story and include it in their reviews. Grab it. Edit it. Make it yours.

6) Declutter your book description. Think of it as cleaning out a closet. You don’t need all of those extra wire coat hangers. You only want essentials. You don’t have to mention how many pages in the book. Amazon takes care of that in Product Details. Your book description/blurb does not include the author telling the viewer it is a “cozy mystery,” or the book “is a page turner.” That can go in Editorial Reviews or From the Author, but actually, both of those comments need to come from reviewers. And if they don’t, maybe it ain’t.

7) You need several blurbs for a single book. Here’s why: Many promotion sites won’t allow more than 150 characters. That includes spaces and punctuation. Some sites, such as Indies Unlimited allow but a single sentence. Thus, for each book make a blurb file and note the number of characters.

8) For every fifteen or twenty authors who read this, only one will review his or her blurb(s) and make corrections. Smart you!

Here’s an example of the same blurb, long and short:

Need Help? Hire a Ghost. She Cooks. Lottie Roberts has been sitting on her bones since the Civil War, waiting for her ticket to heaven until Justine Hale moves into Lottie’s two-hundred-year-old house with three generations of emotional baggage–her mother, her ex mother-in-law and two pesky children. Lottie senses in Justine a kindred spirit—filled with heartache and in reduced circumstances which mirrors Lottie’s situation exactly. Justine needs help. Lottie is of a mind to provide it, but before she can say squat, Tucker Highsmith arrives. His dark eyes, lazy grin, and sexy Alabama drawl coupled with the dern braggart’s Mr. Fix-it talents just might be the answer to all of Justine’s problems–or,  maybe not… Because Lottie has her own agenda, one she has been waiting, hoping and praying for since she discovered her bones on a hidden staircase.  (140 Words)

Alternatively: Need Help? Hire a Ghost. She Cooks. (7 Words)

Any more tips? Share them in the comments…


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  1. Ju Ephraime says:

    Thanks for this wonder article, Jackie. I’ll put it to good use.

  2. Donna Fasano says:

    Excellent information!

  3. Mary Smith says:

    Great post with wonderful advice. I still hate writing blurbs – and thinking of titles!

  4. I’ve rewritten my blurbs countless times, based on advice–even “professional advice” that wasn’t very good. If you’re writing your own blurbs, best to acquaint yourself with “power words”–those that connect on an emotional level with a reader. And, if you can restrict your blurb to under 200 words, it will be more concise…and more likely to be read in its entirety. Catch ’em and keep ’em, that’s the idea!

  5. Jackie Weger says:

    Thanks for you comments everybody. Now, I love the long blurb example I used in this article. But! I’ve had to edit it to as few as 150 characters which included spaces and punctuation. In comments in part one Donna Fasano mentioned how she had to edit blurbs when she promotes books on her blog. I’m finding I’m having to do the same when putting our books in eNovel authors at Work Newsletter. It’s time consuming, and I’m always fearful of editing a fact or feature the author considers essential. Have you noticed in Amazon blurbs where the print fades and the “read more” pops up. I call the blurb above those words:”above the fold”. If I can get all of the essentials in a blurb above the “fold”, I feel like I’ve hit the mark. I often don’t.

  6. Hi Jackie, i agree with all you say. I’m a reader/reviewer and when choosing books the description has to hook me in. I’ve seen ones where there are mispellings and typos, bits about other novels not the one concerend, totally irrelevent comments and sometimes nothing at all… might be the best book in the world but of the description doesn’t lure in a reader then its going no-where.

  7. Mike Markel says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, Jackie. Blurbs don’t come naturally to me, so I spend a lot of time looking at those on the jacket flaps of books I admire. I learn the most when I reread the blurb after I’ve finished reading the whole book.

  8. Jackie Weger says:

    Sheeesh! One of the suggestions in the article is to write the blurb, send it to your Kindle and read it a few days later. Here it is a couple of week since Carolyn and I put the article together. We read it. We reread it and edited and don’t forget Carolyn is editor. I discovered three misspelled words. Well, the same word misspelled three times. I corrected them. Easily done! Don’t worry about being embarrassed–just get it done!

    Jackie Weger

  9. Jenny Harper says:

    Here’s a question: if the present tense suggests immediacy in blurbs, why do readers often say they find the present tense distances them from the characters? I like writing in the present tense!

  10. […] 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 […]

  11. Great advice. The short version at the end is great. Is it me or can it double as a tagline?

  12. Susan Tarr says:

    I cannot believe that after I spent an hour re-doing my blub, it still needs more work. Sigh… Back at it! Great tips and insight, Jackie and Carolyn.

  13. […] bio and book descriptions need revising–we’re gonna tell you. Read this article on Book Descriptions. Here is an article on Amazon […]

  14. Sarah Walker Gorrell says:

    This is a “timeless” article…..regardless of when it was written, it’s still such vital information. I will be checking my Blurb for my ‘Tales from the Porch,’ and I’m sure my Bio will need “recrafting,” too! Thanks, much

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Sarah! Thank you for commenting. I need to revisit that post and update it. I dipped into Tales from the Porch…loved it and knew it had to be by a Southern writer. I know porches and today’s homes have too few because a porch is where life is lived. Best to you and yours from Jackie Weger, another Southern woman of an age.

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