I’m getting really frustrated with my writing. I’m trying to write a cover blurb for a book I just finished. I have used several others as examples and templates of what to do and what not to do. However, every time I think I’ve got it down, I go back and rewrite the whole thing because it doesn’t convey what I want people to know about my book.
Do you have any insights on writing one of these? I’m getting ready to throw my laptop out the window!
There’s an old saying in IT circles;
Violence and technology are not good bedfellows.
Don’t throw your laptop out the window! It hasn’t done anything wrong and, despite the momentary feeling of satisfaction, it’s not worth it.
Stop technology abuse!
Okay, on topic. Believe it or not, you’re in good company. Writing a blurb is the bane of almost every writer out there. I know many writers who would rather bang out a 400 page manuscript then write a 2-3 paragraph blurb. It’s tough because, in addition to being a brief summary, it’s also a sale’s pitch. This is the difference between a synopsis and a blurb. A synopsis just gives you a detailed summary of a book without giving too much away.
A blurb does the same to a lesser extent but also attempts to draw the reader in.
Your timing couldn’t be better as I’ve decided to revisit my blurb for The Orphans of Haven.
You’ve already done part of the work by looking at other samples. So what’s next? Well…
I think the first thing you should do is introduce the conflict. What problem are your characters facing? Spend a sentence or two addressing that. Make sure your first sentence is powerful and can effectively draw someone in so that they want to read more. A lot of people rarely read past the first sentence. If they’re not hooked right away, you’re not as likely to make a sale.
The next step is to introduce your main character(s). At a minimum, you need to introduce the main focus of the story. Give them a name and a brief, one-sentence- description of who/what they are. (veteran, police officer, normal guy, etc.)
Next, establish your hook. This really needs to be done in the first paragraph and near the beginning. The whole idea of the blurb is to entice the readers. Give them something that will make them want to rip that cover open.
Next, establish setting and mood. Give your readers a brief peek into the world your characters live in. Let them experience it for themselves.
Finally, leave the reader on a cliffhanger. Leave the reader wondering what will happen. You can do this easily by asking a question “Can our hero beat his enemy?”
“What will happen if he cannot solve the crime?”
“If he fails, reality as we know it may not survive.”
In this case, it is perfectly fine to leave the reader hanging.
Don’t be afraid to use a lot of hyperbole. Treat this like a sale’s pitch. Using big, exciting phrases will help you to draw your reader in. Try to keep your sentence short. This isn’t always possible, but there are ways to break up a longer one.
Finally, keep it short. Do not write a book to put on the back of your book. Three paragraphs at most IMHO. Establish what you need to and then end it.
Now, what should you avoid?
Well for starters, don’t give too much away. If you tell the reader too much, what’s the point of reading your book? This one cannot be overstated. You shouldn’t tell the reader anything past the introductory chapters of your book.
Secondly, leave out irrelevant details. This should be a given, based on how little space you have, but I see people put in distracting details way too often.
Finally, avoid misleading language. Don’t put anything on the back of your book that could be easily misinterpretted. You don’t want to give a reader the idea that your book is one thing, only for it to turn out to be completely different.
Anyway. I hope this helps a little. Good luck with your blurb! Readers, if I’ve missed anything or you have advice on how you write a blurb, feel free to leave it in the comments!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
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Catch you on the flip side!