Along with an eye-catching, professional-looking cover that fits a book’s genre, a good book blurb is the most important factor in selling your book. Of course, the book itself must be well-written and error free (which is why hiring an editor and/or proofreader is a must), but an enticing book blurb is what convinces readers to purchase your book and converts browsers into buyers.
Yet most authors struggle with writing a compelling description of their book. As an author, you may be thinking, “I wrote an entire book, for crying out loud. I know the story inside out. Writing a short description of a book I know intimately should be a piece of cake.” Unfortunately, it’s usually not. Writing short, snappy copy designed to sell books is a completely different type of writing than creating a novel . . . and one many authors aren’t comfortable with. Additionally, authors are often too close to their own story to take an objective view of the key components and narrow the focus to the essential points. Instead, they tend to summarize their story or include too many plot points and details, which can be both boring and give too much away. A great book blurb introduces the protagonist and the conflict but creates intrigue, making potential buyers want to read more to find out what happens. How do you do that? We’ll dive deeper into that below. But first things first.
Table of Contents
What Is a Book Blurb?
The book blurb is simply a short description of the book that is used on the sales page for e-books and on the back cover of paperback or hardcover books. Book blurbs are also referred to as the book description or the back cover copy.
Key Components of a Good Book Blurb
- A good book blurb is generally 150-200 words in length
- Tailored to your genre
- Laser-focused on the most essential points of the story
- Doesn’t include secondary plots and side characters
- Isn’t a summary of the story
- Doesn’t include spoilers
- As a rule of thumb, doesn’t reveal more than what occurs in the first three to five chapters of the book, other than a vague reference to what the stakes are and the conflict to be overcome
- Contains short sentences and paragraphs for easy readability
- Error free
The style and format of a book blurb can vary quite a bit depending on the genre and whether the book is nonfiction or fiction. Let’s take a closer look.
For nonfiction books, information is key. Who is your audience? What will readers get out of reading your book? What qualifies you to write it? Are you an expert in the subject you are writing about? What are some things readers will learn from reading your book? How will reading your book transform the reader? All these questions should be addressed in a nonfiction book blurb. Bullet points are also popular in nonfiction blurbs to list key topics discussed in the book.
Book blurbs for fiction, on the other hand, follow a different format. A successful fiction blurb will start with a hook, introduce the main character and their current circumstances, and include how and why their life is about to change. What’s at stake for the character should be clear, and the blurb should end with a vague but exciting hint of what’s to come that makes the reader want to know what happens (and buy the book to find out). Successful fiction book blurbs also allude to the genre, so fans of that genre know this is a book they will enjoy.
However, the tone, style, length, and even point of view of book blurbs varies widely among genres. For example, steamy and new adult romance blurbs are often short, punchy, and told in first person from the viewpoints of both main characters. Book blurbs for thrillers often utilize short sentences and evocative language to create a sense of urgency and suspense that mirrors the plot. Science fiction and fantasy blurbs tend to be longer and written in third person. Blurbs for women’s fiction focus more on the characters and their development than the plot itself.
Before writing your book blurb, research best-selling books in your genre to get a feel for the length, tone, style, and POV of blurbs of books similar to yours and tailor your blurb accordingly.
The Nonfiction Book Blurb Formula
Let’s break down what goes into a good nonfiction book blurb. Nonfiction book blurbs tend to be a little longer than fiction blurbs but should still contain short, easy-to-scan sentences and bullet points so potential readers can quickly determine what topics the book promises to cover and whether it meets their needs. Nonfiction readers are generally looking for books on a specific topic, so keywords matter even more in nonfiction blurbs.
A good nonfiction formula to follow includes introducing the topic, establishing your credibility as an author, providing examples of what information is covered in the book and pointing out distinctive features, and a summary showing potential readers how reading your book can help them and transform their lives. Let’s analyze these components in the following book blurb Ebook Launch wrote for Crucial Investing Mistakes to Avoid by Brian Baker.
Every investor makes small mistakes. But even intelligent, rational, successful people can destroy a lifetime of good savings and investment habits with one horrendous decision. In Crucial Investing Mistakes to Avoid, author Brian Baker covers the twenty-one most common mistakes people make when investing, using examples culled from his twenty-five plus years as a financial advisor.
With advice geared toward diversification and a long-term growth, you’ll learn how to:
- Resist selling in a panic
- Make losses work for you
- Overcome irrational fears of the market
- Choose the best stocks to buy
- Take distributions while still growing your investment
- Find the balance between being too conservative and a spendthrift
- Determine when to buy and sell stocks
- Understand the benefits of estate planning
- And more
Providing concrete and illustrative examples, rule-of-thumb approaches to a variety of investing scenarios, and easy-to-understand and concise language, Crucial Investing Mistakes to Avoid is the definitive guide to creating—and keeping—financial security by investing in the financial markets.
Introduce the topic (highlighted in orange) – Like a fiction hook, the introduction should grab the reader’s attention while making it clear what the book is about. Bonus points for connecting emotionally with the reader, as the above example does (no one wants to destroy their financial investments with one horrible decision!).
Establish the author’s credibility (highlighted in green) – What makes you qualified to write this book? This could be your professional experience (such as Brian’s twenty-five plus years as a financial investor), personal experience (such as a longtime foster parent writing about becoming a foster parent, or someone with a disease chronicling their experience), or even the research you put into the subject.
Examples of topics covered and distinctive features (highlighted in blue) – In the example above, bullet points easily show what the reader will learn from the book (and helps the book show up when those keywords are searched). The first part of the summary sentence highlights key components of the book that readers might find helpful, such as examples and straightforward language.
Summary (highlighted in pink) – Wrap up your winning nonfiction book blurb with a quick recap of what the book is about along with the benefit readers may get from your book, such as financial security in the example above.
The Fiction Book Blurb Formula
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to blurb writing, a good formula to follow in drafting an engaging book blurb for a fiction book, regardless of the genre, contains four main components: setting the stage, the moment that changes everything, identifying the conflict/upping the stakes, and the wrap-up.
Let’s look at the blurb of the bestselling book A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas to identify each of these elements.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.
At least, he’s not a beast all the time.
As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin―and his world―forever.
From bestselling author Sarah J. Maas comes a seductive, breathtaking book that blends romance, adventure, and faerie lore into an unforgettable read.Note that Ebook Launch did not create this blurb.
Setting the stage (highlighted in orange in the example above) – Setting the stage comprises the first two to three sentences of the book blurb and identifies the main character(s) and where they are physically and emotionally at the beginning of the story. You need to pack a lot of information into these first sentences, including adjectives that gives important information about the main character (“nineteen-year-old huntress”) as well as an indication of trope(s) that will give readers an idea of the book’s genre (“magical land,” “legends,” and “faeries” clue readers in that this a fantasy book). Because these are the first few sentences potential buyers read, they should be dynamic and attention grabbing.
The moment that changes everything (highlighted in green) – This is the life-altering event that changes the trajectory of the main character’s life and sets up the conflict that drives the story. Typically one to two sentences, this part of the blurb should reflect the main character’s emotional struggle.
Identify the conflict/up the stakes (highlighted in blue) –What is the conflict that the character wrestles in the story? This part of the blurb, typically another two to three sentences, is also where you must show what’s at stake—what hangs in the balance for the characters—and the more dramatic, the better. For most genre fiction, this is death (of a person, a world, or a way of life), although for romance it’s typically love, and for women’s fiction, it’s usually self-discovery.
However, be careful not to give too much away. The goal is to provide just enough details to intrigue the reader so they buy your book to find out what happens next and how the conflict is resolved.
The wrap-up (highlighted in pink) – An optional part of the book blurb, the wrap-up is your opportunity to highlight your accolades (“best-selling author”), identify if the book is part of a series, and/or provide a call to action (“scroll up now to grab your copy”). And as the example above illustrates, savvy authors can utilize this opportunity to not only sell the emotional aspect of the book (“a seductive, breathtaking book”), but also reiterate the genre (“romance, adventure, and faerie lore”), which provides the added benefit of potentially showing up in searches for those keywords.
The wrap-up can also include comparisons with other similar books, either generically or directly, so readers of a particular genre know instantly this book is for them. An example of a generic comparison is this one from cozy mystery author Alison Golden: “If you like quirky characters, clever puzzles, and a touch of sweet romance, then you’ll love Alison Golden’s deliciously addictive storytelling.” Conversely, a direct comparison references a specific book or author(s); for example, “Fans of James Patterson will love this fast-paced thriller” or “If you loved Gone Girl, you won’t be able to put down X” (X being the title of your book).
Hopefully, you’re now equipped to write a stellar book blurb that sells. However, if you’re still struggling to write that attention-grabbing blurb or would simply prefer to outsource it to a professional, our book blurb writers are here to help. Our blurb writing service is currently offered as an add-on to our editing services found here: https://ebooklaunch.com/book-editing-services/.