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We’ve talked blurbs before. Do you have any tips for writing blurbs?
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There’s no getting around a book blurb, unless you can afford to hire someone to write one for you, and you can guarantee that they know what they’re doing. It’s hell. They’re hard. The importance they hold is huge. Yes, this is the part where having a large publisher behind you can be of benefit (one of the very few). The blurb is basically copy: Marketing copy is content written to promote or sell a product or service or to persuade readers to take a certain action. If you’re not great at marketing, you won’t be great at writing a blurb. What a headache!
Obviously, a writer can hit the mark even if they’re not great at marketing. It takes a certain set of skills for which we’re known. It’s that extra set of skills where we get shaky. I’d say that if you’re exceptional at poetry, then you won’t struggle in this area. Also transferrable skills from screenwriting can be a benefit. So what essentially is the golden skill in writing a book blurb: brevity.
That leads us to the next question: what exactly does brevity mean? You might think that is quite obvious, but so many authors struggle with the book blurb, that it seems a more elusive idea in this particular case. Brevity means concise language in the realm of a blurb. Remember when you were told to use active voice and avoid wordiness? That will be imperative here.
In addition to using concise language, the blurb writer is going to leave 90% of the story out. All you want to focus on is a hook. If you can answer the question of why a reader would pick up your book and keep it picked up, then you likely know your hook. That’s not an easy task for the writer of the book. Proximity to the material can cloud the overall idea of the story with the many details. I know I think everything is super important to talk about.
A book blurb will not be easy to get on the page in a couple of drafts. You’ll overwrite it through many attempts. This is why rushing to publication isn’t such a wise move. There’s a lot to plan, and a lot that requires you take a step back and consider.
Go ahead and write that page long summary you think is the best blurb you can manage at this time. Then, go through it and see how you can narrow down the things said to make them more precise, until you have a half page. Now that you have just a couple paragraphs, you may have your blurb, but it is more likely you have several iterations yet. Never fear! It’s going to work out.
Let me take a moment to remind you that the blurb is the book’s pitch. If you can’t hook them here, you won’t hook them anywhere. Take your time. Dig in. It’s hard work and most authors don’t have a marketing degree to help them think about it from the sales perspective. What could help with that?
Reading and studying blurbs from other books can go a long way to getting your head in the game. Perhaps, you may come across one that is similar enough to your own book that you can see more clearly how to write your own. Don’t plagiarize, though. Other blurbs on published books aren’t your template. Just let them teach you!
An economy of words is your greatest tool/skill. Don’t dump words, however, like you just had a tour of Roget’s Thesaurus. Your readers will be put off by the use of hoity-toity language. However, sometimes, one of those words can save your bacon. If it doesn’t sound pretentious and it doesn’t stick out like sore thumb, go ahead and use it. (The same rules that apply to your book’s prose apply to its blurb.)
The fact is, writing book blurbs is hard. You have to be able to let go of the majority of the story to define it in a few lines. Have you ever practiced writing script log lines? It is good practice for learning how to be more precise. Take Twitter’s limitation on characters and attempt to write a few lines in just that space. In the end, while this may sound ludicrous, your pitch will have to hook a reader as quickly as possible. Posting some attempts on Twitter could tell you if you’re getting somewhere with readers.
The process of writing a book blurb has taken months for me with each book. I not only have to take the time to separate from the story I’ve written, so I can view it more top down, but also assess what the projected audience would find compelling. The whole doing it to make yourself happy has gone out the window at this point. Blurbs are wholly marketing. You’re publishing it to sell copies. Otherwise, there would be no point to bring it this far. Don’t torture yourself!
In the end, I’d try out the blurb on a few trusted people you think will give you great feedback. Without the feedback, you may struggle to hone the blurb further than the half page you’ve reached. Their outsider perspective can often better see your book in summary than your close relationship with the material will ever allow. Don’t be afraid to reach out to trusted peers.
Did you know, Editors can be hired to write a book blurb (or fix one)? This service is often overlooked by authors working with independent editors. Make use of it, however, only when you’ve found a trusted editor to work on your materials. It may add cost to publishing your work, but if you’ve planned well, this tiny addition won’t matter in the long run except to improve the sales. That means, it could pay for itself in the end!
Please be sure to click on the links below to get tips and tricks on writing book blurbs from the other authors in the blog hop. Also, enter your email address in the box at the top of the page to get this hop sent to your email every Friday. See you back here next week!