The Blurb

The blurb is the bit on the back cover of a book. Sometimes also found on one of the first inner pages. I always thought this was supposed to give the reader a bit of information about the plot of the book, a bit like a film trailer but without revealing half so much.

Turns out I was wrong.

A blurb: “can be any combination of quotes from the work, the author, the publisher, reviewers or fans, a summary of the plot, a biography of the author or simply claims about the importance of the work.” Wikipedia.

So as you can see there’s all sorts of things can go into a blurb.

This would explain why books recently have quotes and reviews for the author and/or their previous work, but tell you nothing about the book in your hands that is what you actually want to know about.

An article I read just yesterday claimed that since attention spans are so short now, people spend approx. 5 seconds looking at a blurb – if they do at all – which amounts to reading the first sentence. After that they don’t bother. The solution to this is – apparently – to write a sentence two or three lines long with all the information in it. Important information that is, such as the author’s previous success, the genre of the book, and which other books it’s like.

That would make me put the book back.

Try again.

Top tips for writing a blurb – the do’s and don’ts. Sounds good. Some of these points I agree with. For the dos’: create intrigue, introduce protagonist, keep it short. Yes. Reference genre. . . shouldn’t that be obvious? And you can do that by controlling what you talk about surely. (If it’s a murder mystery don’t only include how the main character likes to cook) Reference your own authorial success. Please no!! I know it’s exciting for authors and I guess some readers go by awards and lists, but (I’m sorry) I don’t care if you’ve won a prize for another book. Or even for this book. If I’m looking to buy a book I want to know about the story, not the author. As for the don’ts: no spoilers, no summaries, no saying it’s awesome, no comparing it to other books.

Isn’t that what I was just told to do?

Third (hah) try.

Title: ‘How to write a book blurb’. Good start. Almost the first thing said is go look at existing book blurbs. . . ok. The main advice? Write a blurb that reflects your novel. Don’t write detail, try to recreate the atmosphere, give an indication of the style, it should tempt not reveal all.

Any of this helpful? Well, I know what annoys me about blurbs, so I guess I’ll start by leaving those things out. (Not that I have any author credits or quotes or reviews yet anyway.) Now I just have to work out what to put in. It feels a bit like writing a Flash Fiction piece, except you leave out the ending: introduction of main character and setting, twist, come and read some more please. . .


2 thoughts on “The Blurb

  1. So glad you gave my blog a follow, which let me find yours! It’s really good to connect with other writers, which was one of the main purposes of creating my author blog.

    I saw your post on ‘the blurb’ which immediately caught my eye because I spent most of yesterday evening trying to create one. I’m in the process of converting my four e-Books to paperback with CreateSpace (a bit of a marathon).

    I agree with every point you mentioned above, starting with checking other blurbs. It’s not easy and I started out a number of times before it sounded right. They say keep to 200 words or less – due to size of font and space on the cover. It seems about right. Happy writing! 🙂


    1. I used to think writing the story was the challenging part, but it’s nothing compared everything that comes after! Sounds like your blurbing went better than mine did – I’m still not really happy with my attempts. I can’t imagine trying to sort out multiple books at once!


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