This week we’re getting back into book marketing. On Musings #9, we already talked about the importance of a great cover for readers to discover and try your book. Today we tackle another early point of contact for your readers: the blurb. We’ll talk about what it is, how to create a great one and what you can use it for. Hope you’ll enjoy – this one’s important!
Blurbs – elevator pitches for your book
First, a quick reminder how people discover your book, in order of importance and likelihood:
- Word of mouth – by far the most important. When you hear from a trusted friend, you’re very likely to give it a try.
- Author newsletter / social media – this is also an important channel because you are reaching your fans directly. They’ve either signed up to your newsletter, or they follow you on Facebook or Twitter because they want to hear from you.
- Influencers – these are the people writing about books. This can be classic media like magazines or newspapers, book blogs, or Goodreads reviewers with a large following. These guys can sway their audience to try a new author.
- General reviews – from anyone on Amazon or Goodreads.
- Ads – for example on Facebook. Brings you some exposure, but it’s not a guaranteed success, and it costs.
- General browsing – people randomly stumbling across your book, for example by browsing the romance novels on Amazon.com. Of course, if you make it to the top of a category, likelihood of discovery goes up.
For all of the ways to discover your book, a short, snappy, intriguing description of your book’s content is super important – this short text is called the “blurb”. It’s your book’s elevator pitch, the short period of time that a reader spends on the blurb is all you have to sell him on your book. So let’s look into what makes a great blurb.
How to write a great blurb
There’s a number of things the blurb should do:
- Start with a kick ass tag line and hook the reader to read the rest of the blurb.
- Clearly explain what your book is about.
- Assure the reader that your book follows (or defies!) your genre’s expectations.
- Focus on the main characters and their story line. Don’t get bogged down by side stories.
- Establish your main characters, their situation, what they want, and who or what’s trying to stop them.
- Show your character’s voices. Part of the blurb can be written from their perspectives. But make sure that the general story line information still comes through!
- End on a hook or a question. Push your reader to find out the answer by reading your book!
- That also means: don’t give everything away. It’s a fine line: you don’t want to sound too mysterious either.
I would suggest to always write multiple versions of a blurb. One could be very short and up the suspense, another could explain more about the story. Some readers will react more strongly to intrigue while others want to make sure that the book is up their alley. Try different versions and see what feels better for your book!
Do your research and test your blurbs!
What makes a great blurb also depends on the genre you’re writing in, so you should absolutely do research to learn from successful authors!
- Read the blurbs of your favorite books in your genre.
- Check out the blurbs of books that are similar to yours (a keyword search on Amazon will help you to find them).
- Check the blurbs of current top sellers in your genre.
- Think about which blurbs sold you on a book before, and check those out.
And then test your blurb – like you get beta reads for you book, you should get beta reads for your blurb. Also, ring up your friends and family and read your blurb to them – would they be interested in this book? You could even have your newsletter subscribers or Facebook followers decide between different versions.
Blurb use cases
Blurbs can be used in many different scenarios so investing the time to get them right is well spent. You don’t want to see a bad blurb being repeated over Goodreads and blog articles. Check out the list below for possible use cases.
- Short description of your book at the point of sale. This is the most important one: the blurb tells your browsing reader what your book is about. So put your blurb as the description on e-book platforms like Amazon, and on the back cover of your print books.
- In a newsletter and on social media. Blurbs are great to talk about your book in your newsletter, and to post on social media. On Facebook, you can often use it “as it”, while Twitter will require to shorten it to meet the character limit.
- In ads. Whatever type of ad you’re creating, the blurb (or part of it) can be used to draw attention to your book. For “fels“, the German translation of “rock”, I put the main tag lines of the blurb on a big poster, which was fun!
- Use in reviews and blog articles. Many bloggers and reviewers will post your blurb as part of their review.
- Readers use it to talk about your book. Very helpful for them to have a short summary to explain what your book is about.
And remember those multiple versions of the blurb you created? Now they come in handy: a very short blurb may work really well for Twitter or a Facebook ad, while the longer version makes great blog material. You can also play around with different blurbs for your Facebook ads and see which one performs better.
Writing tip of the week
The writing tip comes from the great folks at Reedsy who have collected 9 tips on how to start a story. Some of the tips might inspire your blurb as well!
Fiction read of the week
This week’s fiction read is “The Understatement of the Year“, by Sarina Bowen. I loved that it had a solid plot-line, solid MM romance, solid sexiness, and solid emotion. This author has a knack for writing romance, and I look forward to reading more MF and MM romances from her.
Bits & pieces
Another book from my back list has gotten a cover revamp: “Taboo For You” – as well as its German translation, “Experimentier Mit Mir”.
Have fun writing your blurbs!
Books and resources mentioned in this bulletin:
- “How to Start a Story“, on Reedsy
- “The Understatement of the Year“, by Sarina Bowen
- “Taboo For You”
- ReReleased with new cover: “Taboo For You” is a slow burn, Friends To Lovers story with HEA. This sweet & cozy M/M romance can be read as a standalone.
- You can get a free e-book by signing up for my newsletter
- Disclaimer: All links to books in this article are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price if you make a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost for you if you purchase the books via these links!
Session #12 – Writing system update – do The One Thing
Session #14 – book marketing intro