Nail that book blurb
Updated: Nov 27, 2020
After months of writing and editing a book, I used to baulk at composing the fifty words that appear on the back cover and in the online product description. Arguably, fifty of the most essential words too. That was until I sat down and worked out a rough template that, I feel, included the essential elements of a strong blurb.
These are the four factors that contribute to the sale of a fiction book:
The author’s name.
The book’s cover image and text.
Reviews for the book.
The book’s blurb.
A blurb, if well written, it will carry the book through the till and home with a new reader. This is why I wanted to master the craft of writing a blurb for today’s readers and here follows my recipe.
Create expectation. While the book cover carries a lot of this burden, the blurb must emphasis it. When a prospective reader is intrigued by the possibilities and likely outcome of the tale, they are likely to give the book more attention. Fortunately, readers are curious by nature. I aim to tickle that curiosity. How will this story unfold? How will the characters fare? See the blurb for Warhorn below and the questions it leaves readers with; how is the character’s peace shattered and what is the price of victory?
These are words that make an impact through the images and mood they evoke. Use keywords to draw in the readers who will enjoy your writing and the mood you create between the covers.
In the blurb for ‘Warhorn, Sons of Iberia’, I use words which build a sense of threat and answer the danger with the hope of comradeship. In this way, I call to the reader’s desire to experience danger and see it off with companions.
Attract readers who will enjoy your tale and how you write. Lead into your blurb with a short sample paragraph that gives the book a voice. This, more than any sales pitch, will decide a prospective reader. The first paragraph of the blurb below describes a scene in the book and has the reader wondering if and how the Carthaginian will escape.
Warriors streamed from the hillsides in ever greater numbers, filling the shore and plunging into the muddy river, spears and shields held high. Warhorns echoed and men bellowed their challenges, confident the young Carthaginian general would end his days on their spears.
After avenging the murder of his family in a raid, Caros’ attempt to return to a life of peace is tragically shattered, leaving him wounded in body and spirit.
Young and bold, Hannibal Barca has begun to mass his mercenary army and rumors of war abound. When he defies an old treaty and besieges the pro-Roman city of Sagunt, Caros joins his army, seeking comradeship and a new life.
From the banks of the Tagus to the battlements of Sagunt; ride with Caros as he learns the way of war and discovers the price of victory.
Warhorn, Sons of Iberia, Book 1
A call to action
This is an old sales strategy and still effective. I ask the reader to buy the book in an original way. I want to invite them to participate and make the invitation relevant to the story. In the above blurb, I invite readers to ride with Caros on his journey. Is that not what reading is about? The reader immersing themselves in the tale?
There are other tactics along the lines of word count, active verbs, etc. These are easy enough to observe and implement if writing for impact. A/B testing is also handy. I always write two or three versions of a blurb. Over days and weeks. I’ll reshape them until I have two that I can post on social media as a poll to get followers’ opinions.
I hope you found this article helpful.