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How do I write a good book blurb?

Published at 
30 September 2022

Once you've captured the potential reader's attention with your cover, the blurb is what you use to persuade the reader to read your book. However, writing a good blurb is not exactly easy. Personally, I sometimes sit for two hours to write a good summary of just two sentences.

In this post I'll go through everything you need to know to write a good blurb.

More than just a blurb: where is the blurb used

The first thing to know is that the blurb isn't just on your book. It is also often used in the description (or short description) of your book on a website. Websites involve search engine optimization. So make sure that your blurb describes your book well so that it can be found. For example, you can name genres. 

BUT! Don't focus too much on being found on the internet. Your blurb is meant for people, not an AI.

A good blurb starts with a good opening sentence

The first sentence of your blurb may be even more important than the first sentence of your story itself. It should get the reader interested. You can do this by starting with a conflict that takes place in the story or with the main character. Also something you do not expect at all is an option or an event that has a major impact.

Some examples of opening sentences:

"Sometimes I'm a frog."

Meester Kikker, Paul van Loon

At lunchtime on a Thursday, Earth is being demolished to make way for a new hyperspace highway.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

It started with a secret… the last secret of life.

The Lost Labyrinth, Kate Mosse

These opening sentences will make you want to read the rest of the blurb.

12 tips when writing your book blurb

  • Name your main character, but don't go into all the details. There is no need to describe what they look like. You already do this in your book. You also don't need a full life story. Only use what is relevant to the plot of the story.
  • Introduce your world. This doesn't have to be in many words, but it should make it clear what genre the story is.
  • Don't call everyone by name. The name of the main character and any second major character is enough. You don't have enough space to name everyone, so keep it short, but sweet.
    In some cases it is even better to leave out a name, but mention the connection with the main character. Like brother, friend, father or mother.
  • Make sure your story comes across as unique. Even if it is based on an already existing story, for example. Do you know how many stories (or movies) are based on Cinderella? (Ever after, A cinderella Story, Into the woods, Cinder & Ella)
  • If you don't mention the conflict in your first sentence, mention it later in your blurb. This ensures that the reader knows what the story is about.
  • Now that you've mentioned the conflict, what's at stake for the main character?
  • End your blurb with a question or make sure it raises questions in the reader. This can also let the reader know what is at stake. Make sure you don't answer the questions raised in your blurb. The reader has to buy the book for that.
  • Keep your blurb short. So don't use cumbersome sentences. Each word you use is specifically chosen and plays an important role.

The exact length of your blurb will depend on your genre. A children's picture book might only have 30 words, while a fantasy novel might have 200.

  • Write your blurb in the present tense, even if your book is in the past tense. This gives the reader the sense that the action is happening at that moment.
  • Be open to criticism and let others read your book blurb. Listen to what the commentary is. If the same criticism is given by several people, then something is probably going on.
  • Write several blurbs and have them read and judged by others. Let them choose which one is better and especially ask why they thought it was better.
  • If you really can't figure out what the best summary of your story is, write down everything you think should be in it. Then remove what is too much information and highlight what is an important conflict.

What should you not write in your blurb?

This may seem obvious, but… NO SPOILERS!

Don't say how the book ends, don't mention plot twists, and don't mention the solution to the problem in your story. I already mentioned it in my 12 tips, but don't answer questions! Make them ask questions instead.

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