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Writing a Book Blurb that Sells!

Updated on October 12, 2016

Writing a book blurb that sells doesn't have to be painful!

You've written an awesome book, and now it's time to write the blurb! Isn't that exciting? No? Yea, I don't really think so either. Writing a book blurb that sells is a difficult thing. You want to hook the reader, but you don't want to give too much away. You want to express the point of the book, but not overload it with details. You want to be witty, and you want to endear the reader to you when they're looking through several other books all trying to do the same thing: get the sale.

But writing a book blurb doesn't have to be hard at all. I know, you probably scoffed, and every time someone said that to me, I scoffed too. The point here is the book blurb isn't the only thing that's going to sell your book. Granted, it's going to help, but other things play a big factor as well, such as placement, cover, editing, formatting, and blurb. All of these things work in tandem to make the overall package as appealing as it can possible be.

So how do you do that? Well, I like to write the blurb when I first outline the book. This way, it's not hanging over my head, and I get the bare-bones of the story down into the blurb when it's fresh and before too many twists and turns can crop up. As a writer, I've done a lot of research on book blurbs, and I've compiled that information easily for you to follow.

You're on your way to writing a great blurb! Asking for help is the first step in mastery!
You're on your way to writing a great blurb! Asking for help is the first step in mastery!

For the sake of all that is literature, keep the blurb simple!

Less is truly more when it comes to writing book blurbs that sell. You don't want to tell every single plot twist that crops up in the story. You want to stick to the main character, and the main plot. Here is the tough question we all hate answering: What's your book about? This is why I think it's easier to write the blurb when you first outline the book, because then you have a clear idea about what you're writing. When you start plugging in secondary characters, side-plots, and conflict, it gets a bit harder. When you're outlining, it's simple to say "This book is about a young girl whose home is destroyed by dragons which leads her on a quest for revenge." Perfect. You know what the book is about! Now ask a few questions (I've added generic answers). Easy questions:

  • Who is the main character? Allison Goodman
  • What are they trying to achieve? A new position at work
  • What's working against them? A new boss, someone she bullied in school.
  • What will they lose if they don't achieve this? Financial freedom to leave an abusive father's house.

Writing a book blurb that sells seems so esoteric, but don't fret, little one, you're one step closer!
Writing a book blurb that sells seems so esoteric, but don't fret, little one, you're one step closer!

There's a beginning, middle, and a glorious end in sight.

Just like a book has a beginning, middle, and end, so does a book blurb. However, these parts of the blurb work slightly different when you're writing a book blurb that sells. The beginning, middle, and end in a blurb start us out with the main character and their need or desire. The middle builds tension and poses a question that will only be answered by reading the book. The end, asks for the sale. Don't get stressed, part of making the sale is asking for it, giving a kind of command or call to action.

  • Where does your story start? Allison Goodman has just seen a new job posting at work where she could make more than she currently does.
  • What causes conflict? It's in a department where the supervisor is a girl she bullied relentlessly in high school.

Or, in her article on Digital Book World, Beth Bacon explains it as "situation, problem, and hopeful possibility." We join each book at some point where things are changing, where things are different than the norm. Something has happened that causes strife, that breaks the mold, and puts our main character at a crossroads where they have to make a choice, or their thrown into a problem that's going to change their life. In order to get to the hopeful possibility, we have to face the problem.

  • What is that situation? Allison is desperate to get a new job that will pay her more.
  • Problem? The supervisor is a girl she picked on when they were in school.
  • Hopeful Possibility? Secure the new position so she can move away from her abusive father.

Don't stress! writing a book blurb that sells can be fun! Unlike me, you don't have to stress-write it frantically before mashing the publish button.
Don't stress! writing a book blurb that sells can be fun! Unlike me, you don't have to stress-write it frantically before mashing the publish button.

Make those words count!

Just because we are writing less, doesn't mean it's sloppy. When you're writing a book blurb that sells, you have to make sure each word and sentence tells a story. You can't be sloppy here. You need a variety of short sentences, and complex sentences to keep the blurb interesting. You need smaller words that won't confuse the reader, and you will need high-impact, emotional words. We need this blurb to be dramatic, we need to have emotional words that spark that urge in the reader to grab this book now, and read it in one sitting (though the content of the book will have to also be great to make them read it all in one go). The blurb is important, and I often research high emotion words to pepper through my blurb to help with that. Of course, you want the blurb to flow naturally, so only use them when they fit.

Here is my blurb for the book I described above.

Allison Goodman doesn't have a lot to live for. By now she was supposed to be married, living her dream life with a man she adored and with children on the way. Instead, she's been left at the altar, forced to take a menial job, and live at home with an abusive drunk of a father.

Until she sees a job listing in a new department at work. This is the chance she's been waiting for; a new career, more money, and the freedom to start her own life and take control of her situation. There's just one problem--the supervisor was the least liked girl at school. Allison spent days knocking books from her hand, tripping her up in front of the popular kids, and stuffing tampons in her hair during study hall.

If she could only get the job, she could finally have a life of her own. But will the girl she harassed in school forgive her? Or has karma finally reared its ugly head?

Situation: Allison Goodman doesn't have a lot to live for. By now she was supposed to be married, living her dream life with a man she adored and with children on the way. Instead, she's been left at the altar, forced to take a menial job, and living at home with an abusive drunk of a father.

Hopeful outcome: a new career, more money, and the freedom to start her own life and take control of her situation.

Problem: There's just one problem--the supervisor was the least liked girl at school. Allison spent days knocking books from her hand, tripping her up in front of the popular kids, and stuffing tampons in her hair during study hall.

Sure, there's a little more detail in there than bare bones, but it works because it helps build sympathy for the main character as well as showing the dire situation she's faced with.

The main thing to remember when you're writing a book blurb that sells is to keep it simple. Victoria Mixon has an awesome format for keeping your blurb simple, and she runs you through it on her blog. If you need further help, I strong suggest you read her post and utilize her blurb format. Hers is so simple, you could literally just plug names and events into it and have a strong, concise blurb.

Have questions? I'm here to help. Drop a comment and let's chat!

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