So, you’ve just finished writing an amazing book. You couldn’t be more proud of this major accomplishment. You couldn’t be more excited to share it with the rest of the world. If you’re like me and have chosen the self-publishing route in life, you may find yourself stuck as to what goes on that dreaded back cover. More importantly, you may find yourself stuck as to how you can summarize your entire novel in an enticing way in just 150-200 words.
If this sounds like you, keep reading!
I’m here to spill the beans on the simple three-step process to writing a book blurb aimed for success.
The headline is the first thing a reader will see when he/she picks up your book. It’s that one-two punch that first captures their attention but then entices them to keep reading. Typically, this two-sentence headline is the guts of the story. It could either be a strong quote or a dramatic summary from your book. The choice is yours. But remember, the headline is typically what online sellers such as Amazon show as a default. Whatever you decide to use, make sure it’s really juicy.
Tip: Write several headlines before choosing one. Ask friends or family to read what yo wrote and vote on which headline they like best.
Once you’ve mastered your headline, you’ll want to write the meat of your blurb—your book summary. This six-sentence summary tells the reader everything they need to know about your book. A good summary will include location, characters, and a setup for the problem(s) your characters will face along the way.
By telling the reader where, and maybe even when, the story takes place, they’ve already dipped their toes in the metaphoric pool of your book. Someone from the suburbs of Philadelphia might see the story takes place in their city and immediately feel a connection in that sense. On the other hand, someone may see it takes place in Venice, Italy, somewhere they’ve always wanted to travel to.
Regardless, establishing a location can push readers to form a relationship with your book before even opening the front page.
If nothing else, introducing your characters in your book blurb is a must. Let me repeat that, INTRODUCING YOUR CHARACTERS IN YOUR BOOK BLURB IS A MUST! You want, nay, need the reader to know who they’re going to be rooting for, who they’re going to hate, and everyone else in between. Well, maybe not everyone, but you get the idea.
When introducing your characters make sure to make them seem real. Talk briefly about who they are and why you should get to know them. I read an article once that nicely summed up how to introduce your characters. It gave the example that the book cover can act as a first date with the audience. You want to share enough information to make them want a second, third, and endless other dates while also not putting it all out there at once.
Tip: Introduce your characters in a way that you’re able to weave in the problem they’re going to face in the book.
No body’s perfect, and neither is the world. Everyone faces problems. Your characters are no exception. Use your book blurb as a way to introduce these problems and what potential consequences there are if, for example, John Doe doesn’t deliver the newspaper to evil Mrs. Robinson on the thirteenth of July then the Curse of Whim will never be broken.
When introducing the problems, make sure they’re real-life issues and not the internal conflicts your character will also face along the way. These concrete issues should, again, explain what your character has to do and what will happen if they don’t.
With the bulk of your book blurb now written, we move along to the third and final stage of writing your blurb. The wrap-up, which I usually write as three sentences, acts as that final sales pitch of your book. Your headline captured the reader’s attention, the summary told them who their new fictional best friends will be, the wrap-up leaves them needing more right then and there.
The brief wrap-up tells them why they need to read it and what they’ll get out of it when they do. Will the reader travel to far-away lands to help them escape from their own real-world troubles? What about learning to love again after a devastating heartbreak? No matter what is in store for them, make sure it’s listed clearly so you leave your reader thinking to himself, “Hm. I have to read this book right now.”