Who likes writing blurbs? I would venture a guess that very few writers do. But they are essential to the sale of a book. Most of the time they are a reader’s first experience with the writing within a book. They set a tone and give a feel for what’s inside. Beyond a cover they are one of the main selling points to readers, let alone agents, publishers, and bloggers.
What’s in a good blurb? Over the last few years I’ve read a few books on how to write them. I’ve read more blogs than I can count as well, and every single one says something different. Only one thing is constant: Hook the reader. I have come to the opinion there is no rule, and if anyone tells you there is a science to it or a rule, they’re wrong. Third person used to be the ‘rule’ to hook an agent. I’ve read about agents scoffing at first person blurbs and I used to believe it, but one of the most amazing books I read last year hooked me with a first person blurb.
Before recently I used to rarely read blurbs, I’d only read books on recommendation from trusted friends for the most part. My philosophy was life is too short for bad books so I didn’t waste time trying to weed through the millions of books on amazon. I also like to be completely surprised going to the book so I didn’t want a blurb to give me any expectations. But now I read blurbs everywhere. Any time I see a best selling book I read the blurb and analyze it. I try to figure out what is drawing readers, and if I end up reading the book, I look to see if the blurb is anything close to what it made me expect.
From this I’ve learned the point of a blurb isn’t to explain the book. Yes, it should clearly give a feel for the book and some details, but this isn’t a character sketch. Telling the readers your hero is tall dark and tattooed isn’t going to hook them. The blurb should make the reader feel this through the words. It should be written in the tone of the book without giving a setting. Readers don’t want to be told it’s a dark and stormy night, they want to feel the impending storm.
With millions of books on amazon and hundreds more going up everyday the blurb has turned into an art form. One there should be whole discussions on: Practicing, reading them, betas solely for blurbs. Critique groups for blurbs even.
As I sit here rewriting the blurb for Clouded Hell for about the hundredth time I wonder how other authors feel, and I want to know how readers feel as well. Please share your blurb experiences in the comments. Let’s discuss.
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