Blurbs (book descriptions) seem to create more terror for authors than anything else. There’s no need for that — writing blurbs can become fun for you.
Keep in mind that a blurb is a marketing tool: it’s an advertisement for your book, rather than a summary.
Here’s a BIG tip: write your blurb before you write your book.
Here’s an excerpt from the book, Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today which will help you to do that.
Fiction, or nonfiction, always write your blurbs first
You’re starting a new book… oooh, the excitement. (Or the sheer terror.) It’s an exciting time.
If you’re a pantser (in fiction writing, a “pantser” is an author who writes without creating an outline first), you’re already writing.
If you outline, you’re writing your outline, and are researching.
Stop right now.
It’s time to create your starter blurb
I’m sure you’re thinking: write a blurb NOW?
Yes, I know. It feels scary, but this small amount of time — ten to 20 minutes — will save you weeks, or even months if you procrastinate, later. When you create a “starter” blurb, you’ll finish the book, so that’s a good reason to write it.
Keep in mind that you can change your blurb at will. Sometimes I change a blurb almost daily. At other times, my starter blurb is more or less the final blurb for the published book.
Start with a throughline (fiction)/ or a one-sentence headline/ summary (nonfiction)
In fiction writing, the “throughline” is the driving force, often called the “spine” of the book.
In nonfiction, you need to create a simple headline, or summary — the problem plus a hint of a solution.
Let’s look at fiction first.
Your fiction blurb starts with your throughline
Novelists begin their novels’ blurb with a throughline. The term “throughline” started with screenwriters. It’s useful because it helps you to keep your novel’s point in your mind while you’re writing the novel.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) is a wonderful resource for researching throughlines.
Here’s the throughline for Gone With The Wind:
“A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.”
For the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it’s:
“After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.”
Your throughline isn’t meant to be amazing; it’s just meant to get you writing.
Just go with what you have.
Use this basic throughline template:
A (ADJECTIVE) CHARACTER + INTRIGUE.
Basically, you start your throughline with your main character plus a hint of intrigue.
If you want to research throughlines, read Amazon Marketing Services’ (AMS) ads. These are the “Sponsored products related to this item” which you’ll find on Amazon books’ product pages.
For authors to run a successful advertising campaign, they need to nail the throughline.
However, as we’ve said, your starter throughline is written FAST.
Go with whatever springs to mind; change it as often as you please.
(Chances are you won’t publish the throughline; it’s just meant to kickstart your thinking.)
Your nonfiction blurb starts with a one-sentence headline/ summary
Perennial bestseller, Awaken The Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Life, by Tony Robbins, begins with this very short one-sentence headline/ summary:
“Are you in charge of your life?”
Short and sweet, right?
This little headline nails it, in seven words.
For the book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini, the one-sentence headline is:
“When it comes to persuasion, success can begin before you say a word.”
Write your starter blurb FAST
You’ve written your throughline, or headline.
Write the rest of your blurb as quickly as you can. I aim for around 100 to 200 words for a starter blurb. Occasionally, I get inspired and write 500 words.
Please don’t go overboard. Amazon gives you space for approximately 400 words in your blurb, but remember… your sole aim in writing a blurb is to get the reader to either click the Buy button immediately, or read the excerpt.
Now you have your starter blurb, you’re ready to write your book.
Change your blurb as often as you like while you’re writing your book.
When your book is written, and it’s time for revision and editing, edit your blurb after you’ve edited the book.
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.
You can rescue books which aren't selling, and have confidence that your new books will have the best chance to find their audience.More info →
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.More info →
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