OK, now your book is finished, edited and has a great cover- what to do next?
I can’t tell you how many readers by-pass books on our reading list due the book’s description- they don’t even want to sample it!
With an author’s ability to buy reviews or get their writing group to post reciprocal 5 star reviews, combined with the “nasties” who troll the review platforms, many potential readers are skeptical of the entire review system. When browsing for a book in a bookstore a reader pulls out a book, reads the title, glances at the cover and if they get that far, reads the back cover. Here is where you get them- or lose them.
Similarly, most readers doing on-line shopping click the title and then scroll down to read the book’s description. Given that, you must first create a headline and then a SHORT description telling what your book is about. Don’t clutter it with information about yourself. Give the reader a reason to buy your book, not to reject it. There is no need to tell the entire story or mention every character. Rather, you should tell them how you are going to make them feel. Keep it short and colorful and speak to your audience. This is where you let them know that this book is worth their time and money. Your book may be brilliant but if you don’t entice a reader, it really doesn’t matter.
You only have a few short sentences to sell your book. Make it count!
Here is Ruth Harris’ wisdom on blurb writing from Anne R. Allen’s Blog-
Ruth Harris is a million-copy New York Times and Amazon bestselling author and former Big 5 editor
8 Tips for Writing That Killer Blurb
You’ve written a book!
• You’ve started the first draft.
• You’ve finished the first draft.
• You’re waiting for your editor’s comments.
• You’re thinking about writing a book.
• You’ve got a great idea for a book.
• You’re making notes for a book.
• You’re outlining a book.
No matter what stage you’re in, the fact is it’s never too soon to start thinking about your blurb.
(Also known as the sales pitch, the back cover copy, and on Amazon, the “product description”.)
Writing or drafting your blurb at an early stage or even before you start writing can serve as a brief outline and help you stay focused as you write.
Coming up with the perfect headline for your blurb will also give you a head start on honing that all-important elevator pitch.
The cover is the first thing that grabs the reader’s attention and tells him/her what kind of book s/he is looking at: romance (sweet or steamy), women’s fiction, mystery, thriller, horror, sci-fi.
But once you have the reader’s attention, then what?
Then you have to make the sale.
We’re talking blurb here, and don’t think you can get away without a killer one. Every book—no exceptions—needs blurbing. These days, even the Bible has one. Don’t believe me? You can look it up.
The blurb is crucial, it’s essential. It’s the message that seals the deal and tells the reader why s/he absolutely, positively, MUST buy the book.
Blurbs are a little bit art, a little bit craft, a little bit commercial poetry. They are (or should be) quick and easy to read but they are time-consuming and challenging to write—certainly for me and, I suspect, for most writers.
In another life, I wrote paperback blurbs, probably thousands of them over several decades. Back in TradPub days, blurbs had to be short (paperbacks only have so much space on those covers) but comparing the reader who’s browsing in a bookstore to the person who’s surfing the net is the difference between a leisurely stroll and NASA rocket flight. As a consequence, my definition of short has radically changed: Now it’s just about as short as humanly possible.
Here are some ideas about getting from here to there:
Read (and study) the blurbs for the bestselling books in your genre so you will start with a solid idea of what you’re aiming for in your own blurb. Make note of the exact words that pique your interest. Pay attention to the headlines, body copy and formatting of blurbs that particularly appeal to you so you can be inspired by them.
2) Keep your reader in mind Speak directly to him or her. You wouldn’t speak to a rowdy sports fan in a raucous bar the same way you’d speak to your child’s Sunday school teacher, would you? (At least I hope not.) Blurbs work the same way and keeping a clear picture of your reader in mind will help you find just the right tone for your blurb.
3) Refine, rethink, rewrite.
You are looking for the most potent way to compel your reader’s attention, not a winning time in a track meet. Look at your blurb on your computer, your phone, your tablet. Print it out in a large font size and post it on the fridge or the bathroom mirror. See if viewing your blurb in different way exposes any weaknesses or triggers any ideas for improvement.
4) Every word counts.
As you work on your blurb, cut flabby, wishy-washy words (you know me and my love of the delete button!). Ditch meaningless hype like: the most exciting thriller ever written or the best romance you’ll ever read. Instead use power words such as: beautiful, shocking, exciting, scandalous, terrifying, sexy, hilarious—words that evoke an emotional reaction.
5) Use short sentences and lots of white space.
Don’t confront the reader with a dense block of text. Remember that s/he is probably skimming so make it easy for him or her. I also try to make sure my blurb on Amazon is short enough to be seen in its entirely without the reader having to click read more. Apple is stingy about space for the blurb so be prepared to do even more cutting if you are uploading to iBooks.
6) Use italics and bolding sparingly.
Too much or too many and they just cancel each other out.
7) Don’t marry your blurb.
Especially if you’re e-pubbing. I view my blurbs as WiPs and constantly change, tweak, refresh and revise them. Just remember that if you change your blurb on Kindle via Author Central, you won’t be able to make changes through your KDP bookshelf but will have to go back to Author Central if you want to do further tinkering.
8) Stay true to your genre and your voice.
Contemporary romance, historical romance, and Victorian-era mystery with a female version of Sherlock Holmes each set up different expectations. So do humor, horror, sci-fi, pulpy noir, steamy romance, sizzling coming-of-age stories, and action-adventure.
Make sure your blurb meets your prospective reader’s expectations and write your blurb in the same voice as your book.
Thanks Ruth and Anne
Be sure to stop by Anne R. Allen’s Blog for some more professional advice on blurbing and always something interesting about writing!