After listening to a detailed webinar on blurbing, it’s had me reexamine my own blurb. Book blurbs may seem like a nuisance for some writers, but they’re essential to marketing a book.
There’s a structure to it. It hits the SEO hard and attracts readers. Below are my notes from the webinar. Credit goes to Janeen Ippolito for the amazing advice.
What is a Blurb?
A blurb is a modestly short description, either on an Amazon ebook page or on the back cover of a novel. Blurbs are more engaging than loglines as they include keywords, hooks, and further details of the plot and characters.
A blurb typically has:
- A hook/logline to grab the reader
- An intro to pitch the story
- The inciting incident/conflict that moves the story
- Stakes of failure for characters and why the reader should care
Of all these, a strong hook is the most important; it draws the reader in.
A blurb can include other books in a series, or tropes associated with the story. Keywords and tropes are important for SEO algorithms; these boost the views and clicks of ebooks.
Even for hardcopy books at a store, the keywords inform readers what to expect. This begins the promise of payoffs, should the reader buy and read the book.
Improving a Book Blurb
It’s vital to target the audience in the blurb. This strengthens the power of the hook and filters out inappropriate readers. Usage of keywords and tropes is strongly encouraged. The blurb should read bold, yet simple.
Highlight big tropes in the plot. Use these tropes as selling points, and SEO will favor your ebook listing. Understand the common ground that most readers/people can grasp; like cozy romance, or dark fantasy.
Avoid mixing inappropriate tropes together like horror and romance—although some readers may enjoy it, the majority of people may not. This is not to discourage anyone from making a horror-romance, but data suggests that those tropes rake in fewer purchases.
Highlight the stakes of failure for the characters. Create tension to further hook the reader.
Avoid too many protagonists/points of view/complicated story ingredients. As with food recipes, stories usually digest better when there’s a couple of ingredients, not dozens.
Pitch a blurb to various readers and listen to the feedback. Refining a blurb, as with a logline or the plot, takes time and revisions.
Begin this test blurbing after drafting, or during the editing process. This allows for appropriate revisions that keep the blurb up-to-date.
To reiterate, a blurb has the following:
- A logline/hook to grab the reader
- Introduction to the protagonist and starting situation
- Inciting incident
- Quest to solve the problem/incident (goals of the characters)
- Stakes for failure or turning away
- Second hook that strings the reader along and stokes excitement
Loglines/hooks at the start should be snappy; three short phrases work well to grab the reader. For example:
A vile temptress. A one-armed hero. Dimensions of love and battle.
Only mention your name in the blurb if you’re well-established like a NY Bestseller; this is risky for newer authors. Include a second hook at the end to string the reader along and stoke excitement.
Ebook Blurbs vs. Hardcover
Back cover blurbs on hardcover books are mostly the blurb discussed above. Amazon blurbs are product descriptions and keywords for SEO; this includes cheesy advertising that works according to the data). Amazon blurbs also include content ratings and themes to inform readers.
Blurbs won’t appeal to everyone. I struggled with this for years until I accepted that there are a wide variety of readers. Some will put the book down upon reading the blurb—and that’s okay. Accept it and move on.
We shouldn’t underestimate the influence that blurbs have on the message of our books. Like loglines, blurbs can make or break a sale. As thousands of new releases flood the market weekly, standing out with a blurb is ever more important.
My Own Story
I began blurbing before I had finished my first official draft. Revisions of my blurb and logline were inevitable. After the first wave of revisions from my editor, the changes were ever more apparent.
Ah well. Sometimes we leap before we look. In either case, the experience of writing blurbs has proven helpful. I’ve now a better understanding of my story and the message it needs to convey.
Regardless, it’s better to hold off on the blurbing until after the initial revisions.
In the coming months, as I refine Blade of Dragons, the blurbing will evolve. I certainly look forward to it. 🙂
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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White