Congratulations! You've put hundreds of hours into your research, writing, and editing. Now your manuscript is complete. All you have to to do is condense everything you know about your book into 250 words or less that convince readers they can't live without your book. Yeah, I know––not as easy as it sounds.
Writing a book blurb for your back cover, and other promotional uses, is one of the hardest steps for many authors. Even good writers can write bad book blurbs. To help prevent you from falling into this unfortunate group, we've put together a few tips that should help you write a winning book blurb, whether it's for the latest fantasy novel or for a non-fiction self-help guide.
Typically book blurbs are no more than 3 paragraphs, or 250 words. So your biggest challenge will be to condense your manuscript into a few key points. To help you get started, ask yourself these questions:
1. What's the overarching question/conflict in my book?
2. If readers will take away just one thing from this book, what do I want it to be?
3. What's special about my plot/advice? Why is this book different from any others?
Depending on your answers to these questions, those are the main points you'll want to focus on in the content of your book blurb. Award-winning author, editor, and speaker, Laura Taylor, has some excellent advice on writing an enticing book blurb. In her blog post, she says:
"Now for the fun part ... the real key to writing book cover blurbs is to begin with the broad landscape of the story, and to condense, condense, and then condense some more. Ask yourself the following questions: What are the most important points of the story? Why would those points interest a reader? Is there a specific genre language base I can employ to entice my potential readership demographic without the use of clichés? Once you've dealt with the preceding, write it all down. You may end up with one or more pages of text. Not to worry. Condense, and keep condensing until you've synthesized your book into one or two essence-capturing paragraphs."
Typically, book blurbs are structured following a basic pattern:
– Open by building up the overall plot and setting. For a nonfiction book, this could be your main "thesis" statement.
– Follow up by delving a little deeper in to the book's blot.
– Introduce the conflict. For a nonfiction book, your "conflict" is the problem you're helping readers to solve or the question you're helping to answer.
– End by hinting at resolution, without giving away the ending. Leave the reader wanting more. Many books use an enticing question to hook the reader.
Above all else, avoid any spoilers! Giving away too much information is a sure way to kill your book before it even sees the light of day.
You also want to be honest in your blurb. Don't promise the reader something you won't deliver. Time and again, blurbs commit the sin of false advertising. This leaves the reader dissappointed, annoyed, and alienated. Nobody wants that.
Here are a few sample blurbs to get you started:
Money is No Object: How to Get the Life You Dream of, Even if You Think You Can't Afford It. (Non-fiction / Self-Help)
Take a bit of history, a dash of philosophy, and a heap of financial wizardry, and you have Money Is No Object, a must-have guide for resourceful women seeking to use their assets more fully. After 17 years as a financial planner, Deborah Hining has learned that "our real resources lie within ourselves." Dreams, talents, and ambitions––not the balance of her investment portfolio––are a woman's most important assets when it comes to fulfilling her dreams.
This book guides women on an adventure that will help them achieve their greatest desires, even when all reason says they could never afford it. Most importantly, it leaves women understanding how fabulously wealthy they really are––no matter how much, or how little, they have in their checking account.
White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors (Fiction / Fantasy)
In the kingdom of Areya, humans, animals, and the magical creatures that inhabit the Eternal Forest have long coexisted peacefully, but now something is horribly wrong. A terrifying stream of monstrous creatures has begun to emerge from the secret depths of the earth, terrorizing all of Areya's native inhabitants. From the tiny, wise drevalyankas to the bellicose cave-dwelling gnomes to the devious kikimoras who gather roots and herbs in the marsh, everyone is in danger.
With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady's nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there's any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world.
When Urart disappears from the duke's stronghold, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.
Remember, exactly how you structure your book blurb is completely up to you, but a good blurb will include the main elements listed above: setting, character, conflict, enticement to learn more.
So tell us, what's the worst book blurb you've ever read? The best? What do you look for when you read a book's back cover?