A fantastic book blurb is critical to reaching readers and getting them to click that buy button on Amazon or hand over money at your book sales table. Here are five great tips to writing book blurbs that sell.
1.) Key words and phrases that indicate to your ideal readers this book has what they are looking for. Now, key words can sound scary, but you see them all the time. Who here picks up a container of ice cream if it says “chocolate”? Of course you do, because chocolate is amazing (and if you don’t, then more for me 😉 ). I am an ideal customer when it comes to chocolate, so I want to know if something contains chocolate so that I can buy it–or at least make a note for future purposes. Readers are the same way. There are readers who search for “mysteries with bakeries” or readers who want anything “dragon” or readers who love a good “government conspiracy.” Know what your readers are looking for and grab up those books. For this, you need to know your book’s genre and do some research in that genre to see what words your ideal readers put into bookish search engines to find their next favorite read. Discover the words that will make readers say “I LOVE this [insert key word], where has this been all my life?” And then use those key words in your blurb.
2.) High stakes in good proportion to your genre. The stakes of a romance (will they or won’t they get together?) are different than a crime story (will they solve the Horrible Crime?). And you need to make sure you are targeting stakes that will catch the ear of your ideal reader. A suspense reader will not care as much about any romantic relationships in the story. A high fantasy reader will be rather annoyed if you leave out details about the grand scope of destruction if the baddies succeed. Make sure you include high stakes that your readers will care about.
3.) A problem that needs to be solved or a question that needs to be answered. How you structure this is up to you, but to get your readers on that first page, the book blurb needs to introduce them to a story hook/problem/question that they will care about.
For these reasons, I often try to write a book blurb before I write the actual book. It’s rough, it’s messy, but it tells me I have enough muchness to my plot to keep going. At the very least I write a blurb at the start of or during revisions. The more I get to little tangly bits that make me frown at the screen, the more I know those bits probably need to be clarified in my story.
4.) A spoiler. *gasp* YES. A spoiler. But not a major one. You want people to pick up your book. If you keep every last bit of special from readers, why should they care? Consider this “spoiler” as that free sample you get at grocery stores. Only give them 1-2 “spoilers”, make them small, and choose them carefully. A good option for a “spoiler” is the unique inciting incident of your story. This aligns with the above tip. You need to mention your problem anyway, so be specific about that problem, be specific about a high stake or two, and drop in some of those reader-attracting key words.
5.) Rework the blurb. Practice makes perfect! When you’ve drafted a blurb, test it out with different audiences, and see how it works. If it doesn’t click, tweak some more things. If you publish and things still aren’t working, try another tweak. This isn’t a sign of failure. This is something publishing companies do all the time (along with cover redesigns). If your blurb isn’t resonating with audiences, give it a refresh!
In terms of constructing a book blurb, Google can be a good place to start for more information–but always take it with a grain of salt! Many of these websites are very set on formulas that are great to use in order to see if your story works, but these formulas will need polishing and revision to truly market your story.
If you’re looking for help on book blurbs, I offer excellent, market-driven blurb editing at an affordable hourly rate. My goal is to fill the world with awesome books that readers will rave about, so I’m always ready to make sure yours shines from edit to back cover!
Think about the book blurbs have have worked on you as a reader. What drew you in? Share your favorite book blurb in a comment!