The Art of the Book Blurb

Hey everyone,

The Art of the Book Blurb. What can I say? It’s probably the hardest thing to do: compress the essence of your book into 150 words or less, open with a hook, and end on a cliffhanger. A challenge, for sure.

The main purpose of a book blurb is simple. It’s supposed to introduce your characters; set the stage for the main conflict, establish the stakes, and convince readers that this book is a perfect match for their reading interests. Not quite so simple to implement, however.

I’ve read a lot of book blurbs. Some give away too much. You read the blurb and you feel like you’ve already read the book. Others promise and don’t deliver. You pick up the book based on the blurb and the story is nothing like the promise. So disappointing. And others sell the book short! The book’s been recommended by a friend, you pick it up and read the milk-toast book blurb. On that basis alone you wouldn’t go any further. But because you friend recommended it, you plow forward, delighted to discover that that the book is a gem!

My book blurbs took hours and hours of work. I came up with the tag lines quickly, almost as if I were taking dictation:

Due Date

Surrogate mother Shelby McDougall just fell for the biggest con of all — a scam that risks her life … and the lives of her unborn twins.

The Stork

Shelby McDougall’s past is behind her. Almost.

The Found Child

Private Investigator Shelby McDougall is out for revenge.

But the rest of the blurb didn’t come so easily. I wrote and rewrote, asking friends to read and reread. I wish I had kept some of those earlier revisions to see how the blurb evolved. I do remember that the earlier versions, written quickly, off the cuff, suggested plot points that never panned out, though basic characterizations and motivations remained throughout the evolution of the blurb. I also remember trying to keep the word count down, agonizing over word choices, and debating on how much to reveal. Truly an art.

I invite you to think about book blurbs the next time you pick up a book. What draws you? What puts you off? Can a book blurb make or break your decision about opening a book?

That’s it for today!

Until next time,

Nancy

PS If you get a chance, check out my publisher’s newly designed website. I love it! The site will provide a lot more flexibility on the back end and will allow direct sales. I’m thinking book bundles. Can’t wait!

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