A fantastic book blurb is critical to reaching readers and getting them to click that buy button on Amazon or hand over money for your unique book.
Here are five great tips for writing book blurbs that sell.
1.) Keywords and key phrases that indicate to your ideal readers this book has what they are looking for.
Now, keywords 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, 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 purchases.
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 keywords. 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.
Yasiv.com is a solid starting place to search for comparison titles and find keywords from their blurbs.
You can also read positive reviews of bestselling books in your genre. Ignore the reviews with incoherent flailing or ten-paragraph critiques, and focus on the middle ground reviews, looking for common words in each one. This takes more work (I do this for authors who buy my marketing copy package), but it’s well worth the effort to understand and tap into what your readers expect from your book’s genre.
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?).
You need to make sure you are targeting stakes that will catch the ear of your ideal reader. A thriller reader won’t 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 to reach that first page, the book blurb needs to introduce them to a story hook/problem/question that they will care about.
For this reason, I often write a rough book blurb before I write the actual book. It’s messy, but it tells me I have enough muchness in my plot to keep going.
At the very least, I write a blurb during self-edits. The more I get to little tangled bits that make me frown at the screen (aka, “why is my story problem taking twenty words to explain”), the more I know those bits need to be clarified in my story.
4.) A spoiler. *gasp* YES. A spoiler.
You want people to pick up your book. If you keep every last bit of special awesome from readers, why should they care?
Consider this “spoiler” as that free sample you get at grocery store food counters. You’re giving readers a taste and letting them decide if your book is their flavor. Only give readers 1-2 spoilers and choose them carefully.
A good option for a spoiler is the unique inciting incident of your story. You need to mention your problem anyway, so be specific about what that problem is, be specific about a high stake or two (aka, what doom will happen if the problem isn’t solved) and drop in some of those reader-attracting keywords.
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 with readers (use a selection of those familiar with your genre and those unfamiliar), tweak some more things.
If you publish and things still aren’t working, do more research, try another review with fresh keywords and phrasing. This isn’t a sign of failure. This is something successful publishers and self-publishers do all the time (along with cover redesigns). If your blurb isn’t resonating with audiences, give it a refresh!