I don’t think I need to tell you how important a good blurb is. The small bundle of words on the back of your book have the arduous task of representing the thousands of words within. It’s no secret that a blurb can make or break a book.
After spending days, nay weeks refining the blurb for my own book, Recreance, I have finally landed on what I hope is the final (though let’s be honest, these things are never really finished). I am not an expert, but I thought I might share some tips and information that I came across along my journey. Without further ado…
Step One – Research
If you are writing a blurb, or thinking of writing one, stop. Open up a browser, search “bestselling <your genre here> amazon” and read the blurbs. Pick books that look like they fit the theme of yours, and maybe a couple that don’t. Read at least 15-20, and refer back to your favorites as you write.
Step Two – Write (within the rules)
Dive in, but remember these key rules:
It is commonly stated that a blurb should do the following things:
- Introduce the world (more common in fantasy)
- Introduce the character(s)
- Explain their plight
- Convey what is at stake for the character
- Create Intrigue (most important)
Books with multiple character streams (e.g. Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings)
In some cases, the blurb is broken up to give a little tidbit for each character. If you plan to do this, it is critical that you create a common theme (e.g. war, religion, famine), or at the least a geographical relationship (e.g. across the ocean) to link one character to the next.
Most will recommend you keep your blurb under 200, or even 150 words, though I have seen best selling authors go over. If the text will be on the back of a printed book, you will have less room to make it long. If it’s for an e-book, you might be able to get away with a few extra words.
A taste of your writing style
Use the same writing style that you do in your book. Give readers a taste of your prose, and maybe even a peek into your character’s personality.
You will want to write your blurb in the present tense. It helped me to think of this as if I were explaining it to a friend, or listening to a movie trailer. Keep it current, keep it punchy and if you can, keep me wanting more. The present tense rule isn’t hard and fast though. You can get away with past tense when sharing details about the world, or explaining how a character ended up where they are now.
Step Three – Refine
Be ruthless. Trim it down. Yes, that line was amazing, but is it absolutely necessary? Does it build intrigue? If not, cut it. You want to make sure every word has a purpose.
Step Four – Feedback
Now that you’ve toiled for hours and hours, writing, refining, and throwing away only to start from scratch, you finally have what you hope is a decent peek into the world you’ve created. It’s perfect! Isn’t it? Maybe it is, but chances are other people will catch things you missed.
Unless you are selling your book to hundreds of thousands of version of yourself, you will want other people to give their take. Share it with family, friends, other authors, and be prepared to make changes. Keep what changes you like, reject the ones you don’t. Tell them what you are trying to accomplish (see step 2).
Above all, don’t take offense! These people have taken time out of their day to help you – they deserve your gratitude.
Step 5 – Promotion
Congratulations! You did it. Now use your new blurb to promote your book left right and center. Remember, though “finished”, it isn’t set in stone. You can always go back and change it (on copies you haven’t printed, anyway).
Here is the blurb for Recreance, Book 1 of the Aeternum Chronicles.
Book 1 of the Aeternum Chronicles
Available May 2017
When death is overcome, life may never survive.
Fourteen hundred years after discovering the secret to eternal life, a battered humanity recovers from centuries of conflict known as the Aeternum Wars. Ruled by the all-powerful Ministry, what is left of humankind huddles in the geo-magnetic powered colony of New Arcadia.
When his parents are murdered by Ministry Breakers, seventeen-year-old Oren is forced to flee into the deadly Miralaja desert, leaving behind his best friend Clementine, and the life he once knew. As clues of his past fall into place, so too are the dark designs of the Ministry laid bare.
Back in New Arcadia, Clementine is driven to the streets, where she is faced with a choice—steal, or starve. Not one to give up, Clem adapts and thrives, using her mastery of geo-tech to earn a small fortune, and a large reputation. Everything was going brilliantly until she took a job infiltrating a Ministry Defense building. Now she too must flee New Arcadia with a dark secret she dares not ignore.
On an epic journey of secret magic and ancient mysteries, Oren and Clementine find themselves fighting not only for their own survival, but for that of all citizens of New Arcadia.
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