I’m posting this guest post for Sarah Kent. I’m not sure about you, but I could always use some help on how-to write a Creative Blurb for your Back Cover. Thanks!
For many of your potential readers and reviewers, your book’s back cover blurb is essential. These days, blurbs appear everywhere, as a summary on your website describing your book, on Amazon and practically anywhere you may find people discussing your work. Book reviewers often use the blurb on their websites to show their readers exactly what your book is about too so you need to be sure it’s absolutely perfect.
Whether you’ve written an academic text book or a romping romance, the blurb you create needs to be appropriate for your audience. In more general categories, you can be a little more creative but there are some standard features which should always be present in your blurb, if you’re looking to attract more readers anyway.
Hints and Suggestions
A well written blurb will hint and make suggestions to where your plot may lead without giving anything too essential away. Keywords such as ‘secret’ and ‘hidden’ feature heavily in blurbs and are great for drawing potential readers in, they want to know what this hidden secret is and are more likely to read or buy your book on this basis.
If you’re novel relies on an extreme and climactic twist, you can say this but obviously don’t reveal anything more, interesting readers who are particularly drawn in by mystery and intrigue.
If you are a genre writer, you can stick to the conventions of your specific genre and try and choose words and phrases that while applying to your novel of course, also resonate with readers of the genre. In the romance genre for example, readers are keen to relate to their heroes or heroines so naming them fully is always extremely successful and again, hinting as a touch of lust or heartbreak somewhere within the blurb will also draw in more readers. Crime or thriller genre writers should obviously hint at the heart of the action, dirty dealings and what aspects of the underworld are going to be drawn out in their work. Your blurb is designed to captivate your reader and you want them to feel like they cannot live without finding out what happens to Kate Johnson or where Austin Keller hid the gun. If you’re a crime or science fiction writer the importance of setting is also high, especially if you have created your own world or scenario for the characters to exist in.
Characters and Settings
Your characters are likely to be essential to your plot and they’re also the key way of connecting with your reader. Naming your protagonists and characterising them in some part is essential in your blurb for example, “Charlie Jones, car thief extraordinaire” or “Tracy Hellman, never been kissed” as this draws in your reader further and they want to know exactly why these characteristics have become so ingrained into these characters. You want your reader to engage and relate to your characters you need to make them sound interesting or at least make them sound like something interesting is about to happen to them.
The same can be said of setting or place. Whether you’ve created your own planet in your fantasy novel or your book is set in your local neighbourhood, a quick nod to this effect will further interest different readers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a specifically named place but even mentioning ‘the rolling hills’ or ‘the red brick university’ is enough to give the reader a sense of place and help them to fall into your novel with ease.
Rhetorical Questions –do they work?
Plenty of blurbs are packed out with questions to the reader, questions that can only be answered by reading the book and sometimes this works and other times it puts people off. Rather than reeling off a multitude of different questions, perhaps just stick with one very important one such a “Will Johnny ever escape the fate of his birth?” or “Will Sammy come back alive?” as these types of questions, set aside on their own, really do speak to potential readers and have much more impact than a long list of roaming questions which can easily be forgotten.
Writing your blurb is essential to the whole production of your work and can be the difference between 10 and 100 book sales. It shouldn’t exceed 250 words and so, should be easy in comparison to your magnum opus? However, don’t underestimate its importance and think carefully about every word you choose as each one could interest a different type of reader.
Sarah Kent is a freelance writer offering advice for individuals and small businesses on marketing tactics and tools. She is keen to offer practical and useable hints and tips that are effective and yet don’t cost the earth.