Marketing and promotion, Writing Craft

Back cover blurbs

I mean how hard can it be to write a back cover blurb? I’ve lived with His Brand Of Beautiful and its characters for all this time, surely I can sum up what the book is about in three catchy paragraphs that will make someone want to read more? It’s just like writing a query, isn’t it? Err… no, apparently not. The query is to make an agent or a publisher want to read your book and they want to know what happens, and some of them even want to know how it ends (the cheek).

The back-cover blurb can’t tell the reader what happens… or they won’t need to read your book (See the one-third rule below). And possibly if you tell them the wrong thing, they’ll decide it isn’t for them (even if it might be perfect).

It’s simple! All the blurb lives for is to get readers to buy. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. 🙂

I found this information at:

To get started you’ll need to ask yourself some questions:

Who is your book being marketed to?

Your blurb should speak to those people you imagine are most interested in the type of book you have written. A blurb for a book for teenage girls will have a different tone to one for teenage boys, for example. An overview detailing how the story will help Suzie mature into a well-rounded adult is not as enticing to a teen as a short sentence telling us Suzie will get sweet revenge on her tormenters, so keep you audience in mind as you write.

What is the most interesting aspect of your book?

Is it the characters, the location, the era, the conflict to be resolved, the plot twists, the moral dilemmas? I can understand that having immersed yourself in your book for so long you can’t see the forest for the trees, so ask a friend or partner to offer some words or phrases they think summarises your book. Create a list of synonyms for those words and circle the evocative and fresh ones.

Once you’ve done this you can start to put your blurb together. These points should help:

•  Use the one-third rule. When outlining your story, try not to reveal anything that occurs more than one-third of the way through your book. Your blurb needs to encourage reading on, not spill the beans.

•  Avoid cliches. Tired, overused phrases will not coax a reader to continue reading, so look for fresh ways to express ordinary ideas.

•  Avoid too much detail. Remember, you only have two or three paras to make your point, so don’t waste space saying Johnny had a red wagon when he was ten if it has nothing to do with the story. Any characters that do not drive the story in a major way should not be mentioned.

•  Use evocative words. A back cover blurb is your last chance to persuade someone to buy your book, so you want to make them feel emotionally involved in your story, and a clever way to do this is to use words that evoke feeling within the reader. Words like laughter, glamour and whisper, or terror, dread and shriek are better than amused, well-dressed and quiet, or scared, worried and loud. Using active rather than passive sentences will involve the reader further.

• Shoutlines. If you come up with a great sentence or phrase that encapsulates your book, use it as a shoutline (one or two lines in a larger and bolder font). Movies call them taglines and they can be very effective, for example, ‘In space no-one can hear you scream’ (Alien, 1979) and ‘See our family. And feel better about yours’ (The Simpsons Movie, 2007).

The structure of your blurb is limited by the available space, but if you use the following as a guide, you’ll be on the right track:

Short novel: 2–3 paras

Longer novel: 3–4 paras

1st para — Introduce characters and give basic plot outline.

2nd para — More detailed plot outline (what is the conflict/dilemma/challenge of the characters).

3rd para — Can be effective to have questions here, such as will Suzie be humiliated or triumph?

Keep your audience in mind, be concise and evocative.

There is no strict formula to writing a good blurb, but time must be taken to ensure your book is presented at its best to potential buyers. Hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful and we encourage you take a look at your own bookshelf and on the internet to get more ideas (search terms such as ‘back cover blurb’, ‘writing a book blurb, ‘shoutlines’, ‘passive active voice’ will get you started).

Good luck.

Good luck indeed! Here’s what I came up with. I tried a ‘shout line’. Any thoughts? Would it make you want to read His Brand Of Beautiful?

Sometimes to get a woman out of your head, you have to let her in.

When Tate Newell first met Christina Clay he had one goal in mind: tell Christina he won’t design the new brand for Clay Wines. Tell her: thanks but no thanks. So long, good night.

But Tate has always been a sucker for a damsel in distress, and when a diary mix-up leaves Christina in need of his help, it’s Tate who gets more than he bargained for.

What does a resourceful girl do when the best marketing brain in the business won’t play ball? She bluffs (badly). She cheats (a bit). And she ups the ante (by a mile). But when the stakes get too high, can anybody win?

Falling in love was never part of this branding brief.

Let’s see how many revisions this gets!