How to Write an Intriguing Book Blurb
The secret behind a killer description.
Tealfeed Guest Blog
I write blurbs for lots of authors. It’s a great challenge for a writer — how do I boil down this complex, beautiful story into a description? Each blurb gets my full attention and I’m always proud of the work. I’m crushed to see how few authors use my sales-driven copy even after they’ve paid for it.
What’s happening here? Why would a customer pay for a service and not use it?
Here’s my theory — many people write or buy blurbs without an understanding of what this piece of text is or why they need a great blurb. I want to dispel some myths and show how a good blurb comes together and what it can accomplish.
What Is a Blurb?
A book blurb is the piece of text that appears on the back of a published book or on the product page of an ebook. It’s a piece of ad copy.
Ad copy can be a struggle if your forte is fiction writing. Storytelling requires a lot of details and dialogue, and I see a lot of authors pack those into their blurbs. Even traditionally published authors will fall into this trap and use the blurb to go on and on about their book. I often get the feeling I’ve already read the whole thing after scrolling through a massive blurb, so I feel no urge to buy the book.
Let’s Turn This Around
Imagine I have a contemporary romance called Three Klicks to Love about former FBI agent Linda and her reclusive neighbor, Charlie. I set the story in the countryside after 2010. The two principal characters start as enemies and end up madly in love with one another and kiss all over the Colorado countryside. I want to sell at least 1,000 copies and get around 20 reviews.
If I want to reach my goals with Three Klicks, I need to grab your attention with stakes and emotion:
She lost her career and everyone she cherished…
He gave up the world to heal from love’s scars.
Can two strangers come together across miles of pain and separation?
These three lines will appear above the “Read More” button on Amazon’s product page. Many people don’t click the button at the bottom, so those first three sentences have to shine to grab a reader.
Hopefully, my customer wants more and clicks to see the remaining text. That’s where he or she gets a taste of the plot. It needs to be snappy and emotional and shouldn’t exceed six sentences.
Linda lost her dream job with the FBI after a tragic betrayal, but the change gives her a chance to move to her favorite place, the Rocky Mountains. There, she sets up a survival school for girls, but her meddling neighbor seems determined to shut her down. Why does a scruffy recluse have his sights on her and her students?
After Charlie crosses a line, Linda camps out on his property to get some dirt on the jerk. What she sees breaks her heart and changes her relationship with Charlie forever. Is there a chance they can come together and make something beautiful or is their romance doomed from the start?
Let’s look closer at this blurb.
First, I started with my protagonist, Linda. Readers love a relatable main character. Most of us know what it is to have careers derailed or to lose a job, so I mention that right away. It doesn’t matter what genre I want to sell — fantasy, horror, mystery — it’s important to show the reader this is a character who inspires empathy. The surprising stuff comes later.
Then I hinted at something more. The phrase “tragic betrayal” makes you ask what could have happened. Was Linda’s boss a mole who double-crossed her? Did her workplace crush die in her arms? I’m not telling. Buy the book if you want all the details.
My next move is to mention the setting. A lot of readers are armchair travelers. They go to a new place by picking up a book, not buying a plane ticket. If your story has an iconic setting, it needs a mention in the blurb.
Now we need a problem — Linda’s neighbor seems determined to be in her way. That lets the reader know there’s a story here. A lot of blurbs get caught up in backstory or descriptions of characters. Don’t waste your reader’s time! Focus on the main plot and introduce the main conflict.
The second paragraph bridges the start of the story with the book’s bigger questions. Can these two enemies establish a new dynamic between them? Can they overcome their fears and baggage? It starts with a detail about Linda spying, but after that, I only hint at what might or might not happen next.
Here’s What Your Blurb Should Do
This piece of copy needs to do two things — to generate interest and inspire purchases. With my blurb, I’ve generated interest with a few details and the emotion of the story. Now, I need to get you to buy it.
First, I need to remind you why you’re on my product page. This is a simple Call to Action (CTA).
This can be a simple Love it so far? Click the buy button to get your copy!
When your blurb ends with a reminder to “Buy my book, please,” it guides the visitor’s cursor over to the correct button. I’m shocked at how many beautiful, carefully crafted blurbs I come across that forget to tell me this is a product, I should get one. Why do so many authors leave this out?
Imagine if other professions adopted this philosophy. No gym shrugs off a membership. If you want to spend time in their space, you pay for it. A book is no different. You’re offering escape, love, mystery — all thanks to your hard work. Get that money.
If it helps, start your CTA with a shout-out to similar authors. This can reduce the bleh factor and give the reader more inspiration to keep reading. Here’s an example from possibly my new novel(?) Three Klicks to Love:
If you run for Sierra Heartstrong, Kris Vivri, or Geraldine Happenstance, you’ll love Lindsay Redifer!
Now I have a call to action that’s less direct and celebrates my fellow bestsellers. Then, I can add a snippet from one or two reviews to assure my new reader that many people have read and swooned for this story.
Find out why readers call her story, “glamour meets danger” and say “I moved to Colorado because of this book.”
Then I bring it home with the direct CTA:
Don’t wait — click the BUY button now!
Remember, this is an ad we’re writing — not a backstory, not a sample, not a defense. All ads ask customers to do something, so this won’t compromise your genius. It will make you money.
This article was originally published by Lindsay redifer on medium.
Tealfeed Guest Blog