How To Write A Blurb in 6 Steps
*One Caveat I will offer, it is usually easier to write the blurb before you’ve gotten very far into the manuscript because it keeps you from getting “lost” in the details. But write it when you need to and go from there.
Definition of a Blurb: A blurb is the back cover “teaser” that lures a reader or an agent/editor into wanting to buy/read your book. Your blurb can usually be used as your pitch in your query letter or when you are doing an actual face-to-face pitch session with an agent/editor.
A blurb contains the overall premise of your story without giving away specifics.
Homework for you: Visit a bookstore or go on-line and find 10 books that are within the same subgenre as your story. Read each back cover blurb. Count the # of words. Total the number of words from all the blurbs and divide by 10. This gives you the average # of words your blurb should contain. It is a guide–not a rule. But if you look at the blurbs of those books, it will give you an idea of what your blurb should include and how long to make it.
A blurb is not a “just the facts” recitation of the highlights of your story. The blurb should be written using the same tone/voice that you use in your story–so don’t even think about getting someone else to do it for you. And no, writing the blurb is not easy–Trust me.
1. You know the average word count. Stick as close as you can to it.
2. You have 2 choices on POV here. You can go for either the hero or heroine‘s POV or you can tell the blurb in both of their POV’s.
3. Define your character. (not their name or how they look.) WHO are they? ex. Josie is a scientist with OCD, raised by hippie parents. Paint a picture of your character by word choice and remember you only have a limited # of words to use for the entire exercise.
4. What does your character want?
5. Why can’t they have it or who causes them to not be able to have it? Usually this will be the other main character.
6. What can these characters lose if they can’t resolve their differences? This is the theme of your blurb. Heroine has to learn how to let go and trust others while the hero has to learn patience or that there are other things in life more important than the goal he started out trying to attain at the beginning of the story.
For a 70,000-100,000 word story, word count of the blurb can be up to 300 words (again, check out blurbs of actual books within your subgenre).
For shorter fiction the word count can run from 100 to 250 words. (If you err on the side of more, make sure each one of those words is powerful and necessary. Otherwise, the blurb won’t read as tight and descriptive.)
For examples of blurbs in the 200-250 word range, take a look at my page titled My Stories on this blog.
I hope this post is helpful to you and saves you some of the angst I experienced when I was looking for direction in how to write blurbs.
Please leave a comment and let me know if you found this post useful. And let me know if there are other areas of craft that you would like to see addressed here.
Thanks and happy writing.