Writing and Editing Tips Revisited: Writing a Blurb #writingtips #wwwblogs

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Almost as feared as the dreaded synopsis, the book blurb has the power to turn wonderful writers to jelly. But the blurb is the hook, along with the cover, to reel those readers in. You need to make sure that you entice your reader, that you intrigue them without giving too much away. Longer than the elevator pitch, but shorter than a synopsis, the book blurb is key to whetting a reader’s appetite.

So how should you approach it? Here are some quick tips on getting that blurb up to scratch.

Keep it short. This is NOT a synopsis. You want a couple of two to three line paragraphs. Too much and you risk giving too much away and turning off your reader. Too little and you might miss the mark.

Mention your main character(s). It’s important for your reader to know who the book is about.

Be precise. There is no place or space for vagueness, long-windedness or clever clever vocabulary in your blurb. Short, sharp, to the point.

Make it interesting. Obviously. What’s intriguing about the story? Why would I want to read it?

Don’t give away the ending. It might sound silly to even point that out – but it does happen.

Don’t compare yourself to other writers or compare the book to other books. Tell your potential reader that you’re the next J.K Rowling or Stephen King and you’re more likely to annoy them than anything.

Watch out for clichés or overused words and phrases. Try and be refreshing and new. And interesting.

Good luck!

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22 comments

      1. I will. Margaret Elphinstone has read them and given a lovely endorsement. She found a lot more in the stories than thought were there! It’s too long for the front or back of the book but I can use a bit of it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting, Adrienne. I’ve had this discussion a lot and the consensus does seem to be the opposite, in my experience. However, I think it depends on the context. If you’re writing your own blurb, for your own book, that you’re self-publishing then I really don’t think it’s a good idea to compare yourself to someone else – because on what grounds are you basing that assumption? If you’re an author being published by the same publisher as Hilary Mantel or J.K. Rowling and someone at the publishing house writes your blurb and compares you to those writers, then that’s fair enough, but if I look at a book blurb written by an author who is self-publishing, and they compare themselves, then that’s a different situation. You also put yourself at the risk of a lot of criticism if a reader sees that, buys the book based on that, and it falls short (which unfortunately it often does). So I advise the writers I work with (the majority are self-published) to avoid doing this. If you are self-publishing your first book and writing your first blurb, and you say you’re the next Stephen King, and you’re not, then a lot of readers who buy your book are going to have a problem with that. If you can lift a line from a review, where someone has called you the next Stephen King, then that’s a different matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alison, totally get what you’re saying, not wise to ‘self-compare’ I would agree.

        The editor I was talking to was considering my latest, so the discussion was based on ‘how she would market me’, however I was very lucky when early in my career, a reviewer of my first novel compared my writing to the late great Maeve Binchy, so I had my hook and use it.

        In saying that, I have a reader who loves my books, but tells me she can’t stand Maeve. Go figure?!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Perfect. You’ve said it all, and no more, here. As the blurb should be!

    I DETEST those ‘if you’re a fan of *name of internationally famous author* and *name of one of the greatest literary talents whoever lived* claims. It’s for other people to make those comparisons, not you (and yes, I’ve used a couple of quotes in reviews, as you say). If a self-pub writer says they’re like Cecilia Aherne, or whoever, it gives me the impression that they have actively tried to write like that person, and it puts me off. I think it’s impossible to look at your own writing objectively enough to say who you write like, anyway.

    Am also put off by being told a book is ‘laugh out loud funny’. Few books make one laugh out loud. I find that, generally, those that insist they are so, have made attempts at a general, fairly banal sort of humour that does little more than raise a smile at best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Terry 🙂 I’m trying really hard now to think of a book that’s made me laugh out loud. Am just about to start Eddie Izzard’s biography though so maybe that will (although, sensibly, he makes no such claims!).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ha! Good points there Terry. I hate being told ‘can’t put it down’ – I actually want to be able to put a book down, and think about the story, maybe. The Van by Roddy Doyle made me laugh so much I nearly fell off the balcony into our swimming pool. (And before you get the wrong idea, we were on holiday in Turkey at the time). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing that turns me away from considering a book is when they ask a question at the end; “Will our hero survive?” Well, since it’s the first in a series, I would have to say he/she does.

    I do have issues with coming up with both a blurb and a synopsis. I just want to put, “Just read the story and you’ll know what it’s about.” But I guess that wouldn’t be correct either.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That whole comparison thing drives me bonkers… and even more so when I see it given as marketing advice.

    It’s a lose-lose situation. Even on the outside chance (slim-to-none), it helps to sell books, what about the originality of the author’s voice?

    Kudos for the blurb-writing advice–short and to the point!

    Was browsing books earlier and saw one which looked “interesting”, but after one glance at the half page blurb followed by a half page of review snippets, I kept going. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks 🙂 I think another point to add to this post would be to look at other book blurbs and think about what puts you off as well as what draws you to something. And I hate it when people add loads of lines from reviews too. One or two is fine and a really good idea, but I have seen books where the author has listed loads. I don’t read them, and I wonder if anyone else does either.

      Liked by 1 person

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