Are You in the Middle of Writing a Blurb?
Have you ever written a blurb for a book? Here’s how.
Grab the Reader’s Attention
The most effective blurbs are:
- specific as to genre (don’t be coy; if it’s horror, then say so!)
- open about who the protagonist is
- not a rehash of the first chapter or the entire plot
- neutral about the quality of your work (don’t say: this is an incredible book. Your saying that does not make it so. Sorry.)
So keep in mind – these are not the same as the summary you write for a query.
In this fantasy tale, Dorothy is whisked away by a twister to an unknown magical land. But first she has to deal with the quite literal fallout of her house falling on, and killing, a wicked witch.
Blurbs give us an idea about the story, and they make us want to read more. Also, a blurb for The Wizard of Oz would likely be longer than the above, better reflecting the work’s complexity and length. While a long book does not need to have a long blurb, it at least could conceivably support one. However, a short novel probably would not. Unless, of course, you’ve written The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird.
Reclusive millionaire Jay Gatsby leads the good life in 1920s New York. As his friend Nick Carraway watches, Gatsby’s life takes a turn with the all-too appealing but also all-too married Daisy Buchanan.
Scout and Jem Finch live in Alabama with their widowed father, Atticus, the town’s leading lawyer. It’s the 1930s, and Maycomb seems far from sophistication or enlightenment. And so the trouble starts when a black man is accused of raping a white woman – and Scout’s father agrees to defend the accused.
We all have to start somewhere, and we have all got to practice. This is a skill like any other. Or, rather, unlike any other. And a lot of us can become paralyzed with fear and self-doubt when we try.
After all, a lot is riding on just a simple blurb.
So, start small.
I honestly think practicing on classic novels is a good idea. It’s not fraught with meaning because you’re not trying to sell anything.
In fact, I bet it would make a pretty cool game. That is, write a blurb, don’t give away the title, and ask the other player to Name That Book.
Back to you.