Monday, November 7, 2011

How Not to Write a Book Blurb: Part I

A book's "cover copy" is a super important marketing tool. The blurb is a come-on, a seductive invitation to buy the book. The blurb also provides a hint of the genre, the characters, the story, and the conflict. Unfortunately, book blurbs are extremely difficult to write.

Even if the publisher employs a blurb copywriter, cover copy is still the foundation of a query letter. An author has got to learn how. Writing a great blurb is especially critical if the author is self-published or small-press pubbed. For these books the blurb serves a double purpose: readers look to the blurb to entice, and to provide evidence that the writer can actually write.

Here are three tips:

1. Don't be a carnival barker. Don't address the reader directly. Don't ask the reader a direct question, like "Have you ever wondered what would happen if..." Don't promise to take the reader on a transformative, profound journey that will change them forever. Never, ever, ever, say "You have never read anything like this before."

2. Don't provide a synopsis. A blurb is a wink and a flirt, not an entire strip tease detailing the brand name and fiber content of the clothing being removed.

3. Don't make spelling or grammar mistakes.

Here's an example of what not to do (this is taken from real blurbs, modified and embellished to protect the originals.)

There’s a brothel in Colorado posing as a retreat for writers. When a young, Australian girl by the name of Angie is trapped by Buck (the guy running it) strange things start to occur. As if Angie didn't have enough troubles in the present, events completely out of her control unfolding in the past and future are now aligning against her.

Angie and her bestfriend Pam have no idea how to get out from under Buck’s thumb; and each time something strange takes place in the house—Buck blames one of the girls and holds them responsible and they have to be disciplined. When the girls chip in and buy and give Georgina a ruby ring for her birthday because they feel bad for her because Buck broke her arm—when they return one day they discover she’s no longer there—they think Buck did something to her but aren’t sure—but days later they see the ruby ring on Buck’s girlfriend’s finger (and know for sure)—they’re infuriated and pushed to their limits and take the biggest gamble of their sad existences: they plan on killing him. Trouble is, if they fail, somebody’s going to be severely held accountable.

From the deepest reaches of the rocky mountain ranches to the fanciest jewelry stores in Denver, this realistic novel takes you on a journey through the darkest aspects of human existance to enlightenment of mankind's soul.
See also:

Why is my Book Not Selling? Crowdsourcing critique of a book's cover, blurb and first few paragraphs.

The blurb doctor is in For 25.00, this blogger will help you with your blurb.

How to Write a Book Blurb that Sells

No comments:

Post a Comment