30 September 2015

How to Write a Good Book Blurb

Back book cover of One RV and Three People at Denali National Park (Photo by A. Piper Burgi)

Writing the blurb for a self-published book is one of the freedoms independent authors enjoy. However, this task typically comes just after you have completed your final draft, are exhausted from months (sometimes even years) of hard work, and are too close to the manuscript to be objective. You have just finished writing your book; it has been edited, the book cover designed and is just about ready to be printed. Finally, you have found some time to put your feet up when you suddenly remember that the text for the back cover is still missing. Another small decision is required at the end of a long line of decisions. So, you put something together within a few minutes and send it off. And with this haste you may have just doomed your multi-thousand-word masterpiece.

That back cover blurb will be read by every potential reader, reviewer, or media professional. Your book’s cover has to communicate directly to your audience. Consolidating the contents of your book into a couple of paragraphs is not easy. Here are some things I like to keep in mind:

- If you only had ten seconds to inform potential readers why they should buy your book, what would you tell them? The goal is to give readers enough information to intrigue them without wasting time.

- Try to be concise. I like to go over my text again and again and cut out unnecessary words. With book blurbs as in poetry…every word matters.

- It is unnecessary to divulge every detail of the book as this can easily overwhelm the potential buyer. It can be of great help to read the back cover of some of the most popular authors in your genre. The goal is to make a connection with the reader so they want to be transported into this world of yours. They do not need to know every little thing that happens in the book beforehand, you just want to rouse their curiosity.

- The goal of most non-fiction books is to inspire, entertain, inform, or educate. Don't be afraid to let your readers know, what makes your book different. Ensure they understand what is inside your book and why you believe you are qualified to write it. 

- Your extended biography is usually best inside the book, but you will need a brief biography in any case for online listings and other databases. Consider including where you grew up, professional experience, writing awards or training, acclaims, other publications or information explaining why you wrote your book.

- If you choose to include an author photo, you should use a professional and current headshot. It helps the reader view you as a real person.

- Only use quotes from widely known, respected sources, credentialed individuals or celebrities as review quotes. Professional colleagues in your genre can be particularly useful for non-fiction books. On the other hand, it’s probably not a good idea to include, “Exhilarating page-turner!” by some anonymous Amazon reviewer. It is better to leave this sort of praise out and use the space for something else. 

- Although it might seem obvious, it’s a good idea to proofread your text several times. In the rush to complete your work, the text on the back cover falls by the wayside. I’ve seen some exceptional books with a cover text that has been spoiled by typos and book reviewers seem to be particularly attuned to them. Too many errors on a cover will inadvertently mark your book as the work of an amateur.

Are there any tips or tricks about book blurbs you'd like to share? 

Related Posts:

Creating Your Book Cover

How to Ask for Book Endorsements

Piper is the author of military lifestyle books and RV travel journals. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+

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