Tip #81: Taking the fear out of writing book blurbs!

Today’s post is about a topic that can make even the most talented author cringe … writing blurbs.

It’s important to understand that blurbs and synopses are not the same, but they are similar.

same

Here are descriptions of blurbs and synopses, broken down in simple terms:

Blurb: a brief, compelling summary of your book which makes readers want to read more.  It doesn’t include spoilers or the ending. It introduces the main character(s), and describes the main conflict/crisis. This usually appears on the back of a published book to draw readers in.

Synopsis: a summary of the book which includes the main character(s), the major crisis/conflict, AND a resolution to the problem. It does reveal spoilers and the ending. This is usually a piece of writing that agents or publishers will ask for before considering representing an author. They need to know how the story will unfold and end to ensure the author will be able to provide a salable story readers will enjoy … and finish reading.

manuscript

***Synopses apply to manuscripts whereas blurbs involve published books.

Here are few tips for writing blurbs. I will cover synopses in more detail in future posts. 

  1. Blurbs are usually written in present tense and introduce at least the main character(s).
  2. Blurbs are typically written in 3rd person POV.
  3. Blurbs should be brief but detailed enough to intrigue the reader, making the reader want more.
  4. Dialogue is not usually included in a blurb but can be if it reveals something important or exciting about the story. (Ex: It begins with an important quote by a pivotal character, even if the character doesn’t speak anywhere else in the book. Such as a mother who died in a character’s young life, and whose last words are the motto by which the character lives his/her life. Or it could include a crucial, short conversation between two characters that sets the mood for the story.
  5. Blurbs should present a crisis or a problem to solve. 
  6. Blurbs usually end in a thought-provoking question to which readers will have an answer by the end of the book.
  7. Blurbs should be brief–no longer than a few paragraphs. An author doesn’t want to give away too much of the story, and the reader doesn’t want to be bogged down with too many details. That’s what the book is for.
  8. Blurbs should set the tone and mood, revealing the theme and genre for the story: intriguing/suspenseful for mystery; romantic/dramatic for romance; terrifying/unsettling for horror; and so forth for each genre. 

mood

I’ve just offered eight tips on writing blurbs. Many authors shy away from this task, and some don’t take the time necessary to make their blurbs the best they can be. But it’s important to devote special attention to your book’s blurb, as it’s likely the first thing readers will learn about your story beyond viewing the cover.

I personally enjoy writing blurbs because I’m good at short writing pieces rather than full-length ones, hence why I write novellas. Here is the blurb for my second book “Unsevered.”

uns back

 

Do you all have tips to share on writing compelling blurbs? Do you embrace this task or avoid it as much as possible? Please comment below!

In case you missed it yesterday

http://awordwithtraci.com/tip-80-the-beginning-or-the-end-prologues-and-epilogues/

 

 

Leave a Comment

(9 Comments)

  • Stephen Geez

    Excellent advice, this. One point you sort of touched on in the last bullet which I’d expand (or make a separate point) is the opportunity for the blurb to show the kind of narrative voice used in the book, too. I like a blurb to sound literary for a literary novel, snarky for something writ wry, metaphoric if that’s of stylistic importance, etc. Often I’ve read a blurb, then seen the book and instantly recognized the someone other than the author wrote the blurb, someone who failed to capture the author’s style. A blurb’s style can grab me as quickly as its content.

    Another point is I do like the recommendation to end with a question. However, I like to change it up, maybe introducing the question at the beginning and using the blurb to expand and intrigue, or putting the question in the middle, or one of my favorites: penultimately, as in building to a question, then following it with a call to action (that boils down to saying READ THIS TO FIND OUT). Thus: set-up, intro conflict, intro character, draw setting, build scenario, drop in flavor, and… Will Fickle Freddie’s fat finger save the world by finding that booger? Follow his ragtag collection of booger-fighting digits as they take on the wildest nostril in the West!

    Or something. Point is, I like the question set-up, then the ending that urges potential readers to come find out HOW we get to the answer.

    Thanks, Traci. I look forward to my daily thought-provoking tip!

    Will tomorrow’s post intrigue and expound? Join Traci in her quest to shine literary light into the dark and lonely corners of the indie author’s world!

    • Traci Sanders

      Ha ha! I love it, Stephen!

      In a world where grammatical errors are decided according to Google’s standards …

      Just kidding, everyone. NEVER start your blurbs with this cheesy line (In a world…) 🙂

  • Beth Hale

    Fantastic post, Traci! The blurb is always hard for me, so I look forward to using these tips for the next one.

    • Traci Sanders

      Thanks, Beth. I felt it was an important one to include. So many authors struggle with this one task … after writing an entire novel. I guess it’s because they have a hard time summarizing their incredible story in just a few line.

  • Tip #82: Get the “phones”! (Homophones and Heterophones) – A Word With Traci

    […] Tip #81: Taking the fear out of writing book blurbs! […]

  • Stephen Morris

    Great tips and advice! So hard to find a simple guide to blurbs!

    • Traci Sanders

      Thanks! Happy to have you stop by. Do take a look around at the other tips in this segment.

  • Beverly Ann McCall

    I found your article to be very helpful. I especially appreciate the eight tips and the succinct explanation of each. I’ve taken note to be used in future blurbs. I’m currently working on a blurb to be used in my press release so these tips are quite timely.

    • Traci Sanders

      I’m glad these tips could help you in your writing journey. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!

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