A blurb is the back cover description of your book, and it may mean the difference between a potential reader buying your book or putting it back on the shelf. So how do you get them to buy the book?
I write blurbs for a living and I have found that while most people have no trouble writing a 50k+ word book, they have trouble condensing everything down into a two or three paragraph blurb. The problem is they are too close to the book and it is difficult for them to decide which information is important and what isn't. They may have written an epic romance with multiple characters, plot points and a story that spans three generations — so what should they include in the blurb?
The first thing a writer must do is pick their main character or characters. As I have said, they may have ten different character viewpoints, but most stories center around one or two main protagonists.
Next, be clear what genre your story falls under. If you know the genre then this will set the tone for the blurb. You need to convey this to the reader — is it non-stop action, an epic romance, or a hilarious comedy?
There will be many twists and turns in a story, but most have a core problem that needs to be addressed. Can the hero stop the villain before he blows up the city? Will the heroine make it to the airport in time to declare her undying love to the hero?
You need to create a sense of anticipation, of urgency, for the reader where they must read the story to find out what happens.
Let's use the romance genre for our sample blurb. Our two main characters are called Jane and Steve. Steve is about to leave to work in the Amazon jungle for years and Jane may never see him again. They have been friends for years, but now Jane realizes she is in love with him.
So now we have the main characters, the genre, and the problem they face. It does not matter about every little plot line or twist, we just want to know what the problem is and set up the story.
Let's look at a sample blurb...
Jane and Steve have been friends forever, always there for each other no matter what. When Steve gets an offer to fly to the Amazon jungle to collect bug samples, Jane realizes that she can't bear to say goodbye. Caring, loving Steve who helped her through the death of her goldfish — gone forever?
Jane races to the airport to stop Steve from leaving her, but is she too late? And does he feel the same way about her?
Got the idea?
Obviously, this is a joke sample, but you get the idea. Ending the blurb on a question will hopefully entice the reader to buy the book so they can have these questions answered.
When in doubt, read it like the narrator of a movie preview — "In a galaxy far, far away, one man..."
It may sound a little dramatic, but it does the job. With the right blurb, you can gain new readers and hopefully improve your sales.