A secret tool to create a catchy book blurb

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First, a few points about book blurbs:

  • You have only a few seconds to intrigue a reader when they look at the back of your book. If you give them a lengthy synopsis (a plot-point by plot-point description), you can easily lose them in the detail. Synopses are for agents, editors, and publishers who want to know each step of the storyline, including the ending. A synopsis is an informative piece.
  • Blurbs need to be relatively short—just a couple of paragraphs, if possible—hitting the compelling highlights of the characters’ and the story’s arcs, but not giving away the ending. It serves as a teaser to interest readers enough to open the book to learn more, or to buy it. A book blurb is a marketing piece.
  • “Real estate” on the back of a book is valuable. It needs to include compelling words to entice readers to look inside and buy. That includes the blurb, testimonials, perhaps a tagline, maybe some author info/photo; not to mention the business and purchasing items like the publishing info and barcode. A long blurb takes up too much space to allow easy readability of the other detail on the back cover.
  • Authors almost always use the book blurb on their Amazon book page listing, too. Readers don’t spend a lot of time checking out a book online. Here’s how it goes…
    • If a reader likes the thumbnail, they click to see the details.
    • If they like the cover, up-close, they scroll down to the description.
    • If the description is too long, or doesn’t have an immediate hook, they leave your page and start searching for something else and you’ve lost them.
    • If the description grabs them quickly, they scroll back up to the “Look Inside” feature to learn more.
    • If they like what they see inside, they buy.
    • Readers holding a physical book follow the same process (obviously, without all the clicking and scrolling). 🙂

So, with all of that said, a short and punchy blurb works best. Hook the reader with compelling highlights without telling them everything that happens in the story. What you need instead of a short synopsis with too much detail, is a quick hook to entice a reader to want to know more about the story… an enticing marketing blurb.

And now my secret for writing the best blurbs ever…
Deborah Chester’s/Jim Butcher’s STORY QUESTION

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?

This is a two-sentence description which can serve as the perfect foundation for your book blurb. Of course, you’ll probably want to embellish with some details within and around the story question, but it will start you off in fine shape.

When I read the first book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, it hit me as so powerful I had to go figure out his process for great storytelling. The Story Question is one of the tools I discovered he uses, taught to him by his mentor, Deborah Chester.

Maybe using color coding for some of the phrases, below, will help you see how this works?

When something happensyour protagonist pursues a goal. But, will they succeed when the antagonist provides opposition?

The story question gives you the main points in your book:

  • Inciting incident
  • Main good character
  • The story’s overall goal
  • Villain/opposing character
  • The conflict

Example: Harry Potter, book 1

When he finds out he’s a wizardHarry Potter moves to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn about magic and his mysterious past. But, will he succeed when the dark Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents, returns to retrieve an immortality stone so he can destroy the young student?

An imaginary nonfiction inspirational book example:

Growing up in a cloud of fear and self-doubtSusan goes on a spiritual quest to find herselfFloundering to develop self-worth while unemployed and in the midst of a divorce with her unfaithful husband, will she be able to use her mind and will to overcome the hardships and forge a path to joy and fulfillment? Or will spirit intervene?

………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.