How to Be a Tease: Writing a Great Book Blurb

January 5, 2015

You’ve finished your book and can’t wait to get into the hands of your readers. You know the book is fantastic, but how do you convince book buyers that they want to read your book instead of the many other books they could choose? You write a great book blurb, that’s how! A compelling book blurb will draw your readers in and leave them wanting more. So let’s look at what goes into a successful book blurb.

 

  1. You’ve just spent months creating awesome characters and putting them into exciting situations, so let your readers know about them. A brief summary of your protagonist and the trouble you’re about to put them through will whet your potential readers’ appetites.

    Example: “Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.” —The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

  2. But don’t give it all away! You want to get readers interested in your book and leave them begging to know more. So describe the problem that your protagonist will have to overcome, but leave a lot of mystery about how things will turn out.

    Example: “As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.” —The Lucky Ones by Nicholas Sparks

  3. Though you need to give your readers the gist of the book, the blurb is much more than a synopsis of your story. It’s a hook, a sales pitch, a come-on. It needs to be a bit dramatic, it needs to grab our attention. So don’t just tell us what happens, flirt with us a bit. Use hyperbole! Get us excited!

    Example: “[It] reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill…!” —Dr. Sleep by Stephen King

  4. Your blurb is the first taste your readers will have of your authorial voice, and it should be written in the same tone and mood as the book. If your story is dark and menacing, use dark and menacing words in your blurb. If your story is youthful and bright, use light and lively words in your blurb. Give your readers a feel for the emotions they can expect to experience and the attitudes they will encounter once they dive into your story.

    Example: “A night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation…forever altered…For Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey.”—The Passage by Justin Cronin

  5. While you may want to throw a wide net and capture as many readers as possible, don’t write a misleading blurb to try to draw in readers that might not be interested in your genre. If your book is a mystery that has some romance in it, don’t try to paint it as a romance novel. If you’ve written a suspense novel with a little bit of gore, don’t amp up the violence in your blurb to draw in horror fans. Readers of genre fiction know what they like, and they will quickly figure out if you have led them on. They’ll put down your book and probably be a bit ticked that you wasted their time. Sure, they’ve already bought your book at that point, but what about when your next book comes out? They certainly won’t be lining up to buy it. Use your blurb to accurately describe your book and woo the audience that will most appreciate it.

 

The book blurb is one of the main factors a potential reader will use in determining whether to buy your book. Don’t rush the process! Give readers a tantalizing taste of the world you’ve created and leave them dying to know how it all turns out.

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