You all hate blurbs.
I did a search in my Facebook feed for “write blurbs” and I’m not kidding it came with the first 10 responses as:
I HATE WRITING BLURBS!!! (<~~actual amount of exclamation points varied)
The problem is:
No blurb, no buys.
So let’s start with the basics. You want to tell your audience about your book without giving away the plot. Your basic concept is summed up easily.
Oh, God, did I say summary? YES, I did. You can’t build a blurb without know what you’re talking about. We’re going to trim and tuck and show it off, but if you don’t have a basic summary, you may as well just toss in the pen now.
I also want you to fish out a few really good lines, ones that make you stop when you’re writing and just go, “Damn. Damn, that’s amazing. Yes! I can do this.” You can use those to form your hook or your teaser line. (We’ll talk about hooks in a second.)
Now, follow me here. When you write your summary, do not go beyond the first half of the book. Don’t bring in that devious twist. Don’t mention characters that don’t come in until chapter 30 (out of 31). Summarize only the first half of your book, just the characters we need to know going into this. Do not limit your words– yet. We’re going to work from this.
And if you’re still using the Question? at the end, stop it. Stop it right now.
You’re probably staring at this thinking a few things right now.
I HATE WRITING BLURBS!!! <~~ Actual number of ‘!’ may vary.
We’re going to make this blurb about 150 to 200 words. Let’s talk about a few points here.
1. You’re getting the reader interested.
2. If you have done world-building for your story (paranormal, urban fantasy, fantasy, scifi), AVOID the lingo in your blurb. Let them learn the words once they are in. (Glossaries are good!)
3. Don’t repeat yourself. I repeat: don’t repeat yourself. Be REALLY AWARE of every word you’re going to use. You have under 200 words to get people interested.
So now that we have our pile of shit to sort through, we need a hook. You want to grab the reader from the get go. Let’s compare the opening from the old blurb from Consensual and the new blurb.
The old blurb:
From the moment he laid eyes on Emmy Westerly, Nathaniel wanted her in his life.
Not bad. Not great, but not bad because we instantly know our characters names.
But, check out the new blurb:
The door read: Tessa Saint.
The truth was: she was nothing of the sort.
You know your characters best. Pull out something that grabs the attention, that starts the reader down the path of learning you characters. It’s nice that Nathaniel wants to get to know Emmy, but what is it about EMMY that makes him interested. What is it about Emmy that is interesting? I knew that her name was ironic. She’s a bdsm mistress, a domme, and that’s what I wanted to highlight. Nathaniel has NO idea what he’s getting into with her.
So, I’ve chosen a conflict. An early conflict, that has started to resolve by the middle of the book.
Now the meat of your blurb. First thing: You are not writing a book report. You do not have to report every conflict, or character, or plot beat. If you find anything in your summary that takes place near the end of your book, or is related to something that happens later– cut it out. Get rid of it. We don’t care. The reader will get there.
If you’re writing a menage, write in all three. If you’re doing an orgy… um. Well. Make sure that your ring leaders are mentioned. We don’t want to bring in the reader with just He and She –or He… and then book was actually about she.
A lot of people are asking about blurbs in the tense of the book. Not always necessary. Worry about the Hook.
First person blurbs can be effective– as long as you write them correctly. I understand that First Person Present is a hot narrative point-of-view right now, but consider it’s use very carefully when you’re writing your blurb. It’s hard to stay in First Present in the blurb, because you’re conveying the whole story and present doesn’t allow you to examine or pose situations in the future. This is where a LOT of First Present writers trip up. Change to First Past or Third Limited Omniscient.
Generally– and I means SUPER generally, this is by no means gospel, don’t stick to this if something else works– you want to have 4 sections of your blurb:
1. The Hook
2. First MC
3. Second MC
Now, this part here is absolute gospel: DO NOT PUT YOUR CONCLUSION IN YOUR BLURB.
Get creative. Remember that you’ve just written a book that’s at least 50,000 words. You can do this. You know the language, you’ve probably got the ammo in your bag for this. Consider the words and their placement. Consider the length. You have a cover and a blurb to get your potential fans into your camp. Terrible covers can make or break a sale–but so can a blurb! I remember as a kid, there was a book with a TERRIBLE cover in my local library. Like, honestly, at 12 years old, I kept looking at this thing and thinking: I can do better than this and I can’t draw. I kept putting it back. I’d read the blurb and put it back. Repeat for about six months until one day I finally decided that the blurb was compelling enough to finally take it out.
And it turned out to be an amazing book. So amazing that I went out and bought it and added it to my already-growing collection of books. Think about that. To have a blurb SO COMPELLING that you have a 12 year old coming back and thinking about your book for six months, ultimately winning them over.
That’s what you want. That’s what you can do.
Are we done? ABSO-friggin’-LUTELY NOT.
Take that blurb. Show it to friends. Let them rip it apart. Never assume that you’ve got right on the first try. Let your writer buddies see your summary that you worked with. And then take their suggestions and consider them carefully. They don’t know your story and they are interested in making it interesting. The indie community is–on the whole–ridiculously supportive of one another.
Make friends, get better blurbs.
And now when you’ve gotten everything together and you’re ready to go with your blurb, The Big Reveal, get someone to damn well proofread the thing. Seriously. I’ve screwed the pooch on this one myself. And when you copy and paste, reread to make sure all of your letter are there, and it’s the right blurb for the right book. The devil is in the details!