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How to write a killer blurb for your next book

22 May 2017

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One of the first things your audience will come into contact with when they find your next book is the blurb.

Originally just the two or three paragraphs of text that adorned the back cover of physical books, the blurb now resides all over the web in the digital age and era of self-publishing.

These seemingly innocuous two-hundred-or-so words will be the difference between readers parting with their hard-earned money and moving onto the next summer holiday reading option.

It’s therefore vital you get your blurb right. Here’s how to do just that in just six simple steps:

1. Learn from the best

Before you write anything, pick two or three of the bestselling books in your genre and have a good read of their blurbs (because they’re working, clearly).

It’s important to give potential readers what they expect, and you’ll only do that if you follow the stylistic cues of the best. If your book is a thriller, its blurb needs to read like a thriller. If its non-fiction, it needs to make the focus abundantly clear.

How are the best doing it?

2. Think about why someone would want to read your book

As an author, it’s really easy to get lost in the writing process. And that’s actually a great thing - until it gets in the way of selling it.

The story arc, character development, twist or general premise of your book is the reason people will want to read it - and that’s why you need to focus on extolling its virtues within the blurb.

Think about the one thing that will make people want to read your novel and focus the blurb only on that.

3. Don’t get carried away

As we noted at the start of this post, a great blurb should only be two-hundred (ish) words long. Don’t exceed that limit; you have mere seconds to keep potential readers interested these days.

4. Make it scannable

Just as blurb brevity will ensure more people bother to read it, you also need to make sure it can be easily scanned for those who are extremely limited for time.

Ensure it includes keywords relating to that all-important reason you want people to read your book and focus on short sentences and even shorter paragraphs.

5. Leave a cliff-hanger

Sure, you want to give people a reason for buying for your book, but you don’t want to give the entire game away.

The best blurbs set the scene, introduce key characters and then leave the reader hanging.

Make a strong promise to the reader that something incredible lies beyond the pages of your book - but don’t tell them too much.

6. Spend as much time as possible on the first sentence

Many people will make a judgement about whether or not to buy your book based on the first sentence of the blurb.

Seem unfair? Not really - it’s your chance to don your best salesperson hat and, once again, give them a reason to invest in your creativity. It’s for this reason you should spend as much time as possible on the first sentence of your blurb.

Write it, re-write it and continue to do so until you have something that asks a question, sets the scene and makes that all-important promise to the reader.

Wrapping up

Blurbs are fun to write but unfortunately often play second fiddle to the main writing process.

In reality, the time you spend on your blurb is just as important as the countless hours you put into writing the book itself. Use our tips above, and you’ll create a blurb that sells.

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