I have recently been offered the opportunity to write blurbs for other authors in exchange for a fee. Now don’t get me wrong, I jumped at the chance, I mean who doesn’t want to get paid for their writing? But it got me thinking just why is it so hard to write a blurb?
To start with, let me explain, the blurb is that bit on the back cover of the book that gives you a little peek at what the book contains (or the short introduction paragraph that you see provided for an ebook). It is not a summary per se, and certainly not a synopsis (which is another evil piece of work). Its purpose is similar to that of the cover - to capture a reader’s attention and draw them in. To give away a little clue as to what awaits inside the cover. Therein lies the difficulty. When you have a full length novel, filled with amazing world building, detailed characters and an intricate plot, how can you be expected to extract just a tiny piece of that beautiful masterpiece to present as representational of the whole?
It’s hard, believe me. I’ve done it myself four times now and I sit there staring at the blank paper thinking “Why? Why must I do this horrid thing?” but there are a few tricks you can use to overcome the moment of despair.
1) Pick a character (or a couple of your main characters) to mention and consider their traits - e.g. John B knew his habit of collecting newspaper cuttings of serial killers would get out of hand one day, little did he know just how bad a habit it was.
2) Consider including a mention of the setting of your book – e.g. Sam J spent his life riding the rails on the steam locomotives
3) Include a hint at a hurdle – a situation that your characters are faced with in the book
4) Try to keep the blurb below five hundred words, any longer and you risk waffling with information that although no doubt important, is not pertinent to the goal of the blurb.
Also go and look up some of your favourite books on amazon and read the blurb that is presented for them. Figure out what works and what doesn’t and see if you can apply the same formula to your own work.
If all else fails, then you can always pay someone else to do the work for you… I can think of at least one person who offers such a service ;)