Books are nothing without readers. There are many ways that readers are encouraged to pick up a book in a bookshop or library, or to purchase a book on-line. Catchy or memorable titles are vital. Book covers are also very important. If a book looks attractive and interesting, a customer will pick it up. What do they do then? They turn it over and read the jacket copy or blurb. The blurb is the short description on the back of the book. Sometimes there is also a tag line or shout line on the front or back cover, plus some quotes from reviewers or from other writers.
Here is an example of a shout line, taken from one of my own books: Ask Amy Green: Dancing Daze. The book is for readers of age 10+.
Ask Amy Green: Any problem solved!
And here is the blurb:
Dancing dilemmas . . .
Mills’s ballerina sister has just landed the role of a lifetime – but something is very wrong with the young star.
A worried Mills begs best friend Amy for help. How can Amy refuse, even though she has big problems of her own to solve? Luckily, Clover is happy to lend a hand.
And saving dancing divas is all in a day’s work for the intrepid twosome.
There’s also a quote from Cathy Cassidy: ‘A fab and funny read.’
Here’s the blurb of another one of my books, an adult novel this time called The Memory Box (out in September in paperback):
Pandora Schuster is about to turn thirty but that’s the least of her worries. She’s just been tested for a hereditary cancer gene and, expecting the worst, is desperate for her ex-boyfriend and father of nine-year-old Iris to be a part of her daughter’s life.
However there are two major problems: Olivier Huppert lives in Paris and he has no idea that Iris even exists. Pandora tries to find Olivier during her Parisian birthday weekend but it all ends in disaster.
Pandora is determined for Iris to know the truth about her handsome, charismatic father. So she creates a memory box filled with photos, letters and mementoes of the magical time she spent in Paris with Olivier.
But when the past and the present start to collide, Pandora finds herself having to choose between her head and her heart . . .
And the shout line:
Can you ever really forget your first love?
Hopefully both my blurbs (and shout lines) tell the potential reader something about the book and make them want to find out more.
So how do you write a really great blurb? Here are some tips:
1/ Read the blurbs of lots of other books that are similar (in genre/age group) to yours. Look at their length and style. Note any that are particularly good and study how they are written.
2/ Keep it short and sweet. You need to draw the reader in quickly and hold their attention. Use key words like ‘secret’, ‘mystery’, ‘betrayal’, ‘revenge’, ‘magic’ to whet a reader’s appetite.
3/ You don’t need to describe the whole plot in the blurb, just give the reader an idea of what the book is about and the main character or characters. Keep your blurb simple yet interesting.
4/ The blurb should be written in a similar voice to the book. If it’s a comedy, the blurb needs to reflect this.
5/ If the book has a strong theme, bring this out in the blurb. Is your book about first love, the enduring bonds of friendship, or betrayal? Is it ‘a deeply moving story of family and friendship’ (from the blurb of A Thousand Splendid Suns), or ‘a deeply affecting coming-of-age story’ (from the blurb of The Perks of Being a Wallflower)?
5/ Remember to edit the blurb carefully. There’s nothing as off-putting as spelling mistakes in a blurb.
Sarah Kettle, Creative Copywriter with Puffin explains how to write a blurb – "read a manuscript, note down words and quotes with instant appeal, atmosphere, an air of mystery, a sense of character, a sense of place and put the all together in a coherent and exciting way. So that whoever picks up the book reads the blurb and thinks ‘I must read this book. I must have this book in my life. To the till we shall go. Immediately.’"
Best of luck writing your blurb!
Yours in writing,