In my previous blog post entitled Plot in a Nutshell — Writing the Novel Synopsis, I related a few tips on why it’s necessary to be able to reduce the entire plot of your novel into a few short paragraphs. Now we’ll turn our attention to the book blurb where the text becomes even shorter than the synopsis.
As indie authors we are afforded the privilege, and the responsibility, of crafting that compelling blurb. Scary thought, right?
Remember the old adage, you can’t judge a book by its cover? Time to forget that nonsense. The fact is many buyers do just that – make a purchase decision based on the blurb that appears on the back cover of the book. How will yours rate? What can you do to make it even better?
If you have taken that huge step to write the synopsis as directed in the previous post, you’re halfway there. Now it’s time to pare things down even more.
Most novelists are avid readers. Does that describe you? If so, take note of the blurbs that appear on the back cover of your favorite novels.
- Does it compel you to want to read the novel?
- If so, why? If not, why?
- Do you see strong verbs that denote emotion or action? How many? Few? Many?
- Are the characters named?
- Is the main character’s conflict hinted at?
- In the blurbs that you like the best, are compelling questions used?
Now that you’ve done your research begin working on the blurb for your book.
A shout line is a short headline above the blurb – yet another sales tool to grab reader attention. You may not always use this, or even feel you need it, but be aware. Look at other books to see how they are used to the author’s advantage
Use short, punchy sentences. Remember your reader is browsing at this point. Keep the text light, not heavy.
Because of the economy of words, don’t waste space by adding empty hype. No one wants to read that this is the steamiest romance, or the most thrilling thriller, or the most compelling mystery. If the main character’s conflict is presented briefly but powerfully, it will resonate with your potential book buyer.
Quotes from the Novel Text
Refer to the opening lines of your novel. If those lines are strong grabbers, they just might work for the opening lines for your blurb.
I used that strategy for the first book in the Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection, Flower in the Hills.
Latina Harmen knew she was going to hate Missouri. “There’s nothing in Missouri!” she had told her father when he announced they were to spend the summer there. And now she knew she had been one hundred and ten percent right.
Latina had taken for granted that she would be spending another happy summer vacation with her friends at Periwinkle Cove on the East Coast. After all, her family had spent summers there as long as she could remember.
Now, in the summer before her senior year, she would be stuck in a hick town with no one around but her boring parents and bratty younger brother.
How could she have guessed the beauty that lay waiting for her in those brooding hills? How was she to know she would meet fascinating people, and that she would learn more about herself than she’d ever known?
How was she to know she would meet a special someone whose friendship and support would change her life forever?
Also notice how the closing offers questions which work to draw the reader in and raise questions in their minds.
As was mentioned in the post on writing synopses, the key here is to practice, practice, and practice. Also continue to tweak what you’ve written. One of the marvels of digital books (and POD – print-on-demand), is the ease of tweaking in weeks and months to come. Not like in past years when thousands of copies were printed and the chance to edit cover copy was possibly years down the road – if ever. Writing snappy, catchy book blurbs is a crucial element of becoming a successful indie author. It’s not something you can leave to chance.
Photo Credits: ID 16125665 © Szefei | Dreamstime.com
The first two titles in the Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection will be available in print form.
Flower in the Hills and Tiger Beetle at Kendallwood will soon be in bound copies.
Watch for upcoming announcements.