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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Peaslee

How to Write a Book Blurb

Crafting a book blurb is a crucial and tricky part of the writing process.


What's a book blurb?

A blurb is a short description on the back of a book that tells your audience what the book is about—without giving away key details. It's a sales pitch!


A good blurb will draw readers in and create mystery and suspense while not misleading the audience. Balancing these aspects can be tricky.


So how do you write the perfect book blurb?


 

Study

Look at your bookshelves or browse Amazon for books that are in your genre. Read some blurbs.


Take notes—what do you like? Dislike? What would you do differently?


 

Start with a hook

What makes your book stand out? Take a compelling aspect and start your blurb with it to hook your audience.


Here's how the blurb for the fantasy adventure Orconomics begins:

A disgraced Dwarven hero. A band of deadbeat adventurers. His last shot at redemption could get him killed.

Hook: a disgraced hero with a last shot at redemption. While it may not be the most unique hook, it's a tried and true trope.


Or humorous sci-fi novel How to Buy a Planet:

When Toby, a penniless student, and his two new flatmates find out one morning on TV, they're surprised to find the Earth’s new alien owners are staggeringly cute and bring the promise of a debt-free future.

Hook: Earth's been taken over by cute aliens. Also, a debt-free future? Sign me up, please.


Or this particularly creative hook to the bizarro action novel, ALL MEN ARE TRASH:

Calm down. You’re overreacting. Make me a sammich. Don’t get so emotional. What, are you on your period or something? Nice tits. You should smile more. Moody bitch. I said I was sorry, didn’t I? Feminazi.

Without telling you anything about the plot, this hook grabs your attention. If you're a woman, it's because you've been told at least one of those things.


Readers have short attention spans. There are a lot of books out there. Start your hook with something eye-catching, or your audience will quickly move on.


 

Stay in the book's voice


If you're writing a serious historical drama, don't write a funny blurb. Conversely, if you're writing something comedic, show some of that humor in your blurb.


Look at this blurb for a psychological thriller, Never Lie. I've bolded the words that mark this as a thriller.

Newlyweds Tricia and Ethan are searching for the house of their dreams. But when they visit the remote manor that once belonged to Dr. Adrienne Hale, a renowned psychiatrist who vanished without a trace four years earlier, a violent winter storm traps them at the estate… with no chance of escape until the blizzard comes to an end.

Compare with this blurb for Confessions of a Shopaholic, a rom-com.


Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London’s trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season’s must-haves. The only trouble is, she can’t actually afford it—not any of it.

Fabulous flat, trendy neighborhood, glamorous friends...this won't be a dark and gloomy book.

 

Include what's important


Vital aspects to include:

  • Your protagonist(s)

  • The conflict

  • The stakes

  • Your credentials (don't stress if you don't have any—everyone starts somewhere)


 

Leave out what's not


Do not include spoilers. A book blurb is not a book summary.


And keep it concise. A blurb should be a couple hundred words, max.


 

Can I break the rules?


You can always break the rules—so long as you understand them first.


Notice how this blurb for Jurassic Park doesn't say anything about the protagonist, or what the conflict will be—just that "something goes wrong," which is a given with any story. But its mysterious tone grabs your interest, and the hook—dinosaurs are back—is enough to make you want to know more.


An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price. Until something goes wrong. . . .

 

Where's Your Book Blurb, Jennifer?

Nice try! I'm still working on mine. But I hope to have one I can share soon.

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