The writer’s nemesis: back-cover blurbs

Writing is hard, yo. That’s why I’m forever in awe of anyone who actually manages to finish a novel. And when you’ve finished your novel, you’re still not done with the writing. Because then you’ve got to write your back-cover copy, sometimes called a blurb or a synopsis (although those two terms sometimes mean other things too, because publishing is nothing if not fricking confusing at times. I’m going to mostly stick with blurb here, because it’s shorter and I’m lazy saving my wrists from RSI.). Whatever you want to call those snappy, interesting, mind-blowing few paragraphs that are going to make readers desperate to buy your book, they’re paragraphs that have been known to make grown men and women weep with despair. Authors who can turn out epic battle scenes, sex scenes that are so hot you can’t read them in public, or magical systems that would baffle even Hermione Granger sometimes find themselves utterly at a loss when it comes to their blurbs.

It’s easy to see why. You need to inform the reader what your book is about without giving away too much. You need to evoke the world in which your story takes place without overwhelming the reader with irrelevant detail. You need to introduce your characters without taking up the whole cover with their backstories. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? And when you’ve already put so much work into the actual bloody book, this final hurdle can feel like a tough one.

So here are three tips for writing a great blurb:

  1. Write one, then delete half of it. Blurbs should be short and sweet, and authors often make the mistake of trying to tell the reader too much of what happens in the book. If they want to know what happens in the book, they need to buy it!
  2. Take inspiration from books that sell well in your genre. Now is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Look at what works, then try to emulate that.
  3. Remember what a blurb is: a sales tool. You can’t write an effective blurb if you don’t bear this in mind. Blurbs are not for showing off your skills as a writer. They’re not for summarizing your story. They’re for persuading people that they want to read your book. Approach your blurb with that mindset.

Does that still sound too hard? Help is at hand! Because I’m a bit of a weirdo who actually enjoys working on blurbs, I’m now offering a back-cover blurb editing/rewriting service. Read all about it here, and get in touch if it sounds like just what you need.


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