Any writer who’s had to write a query or a synopsis for a submission knows how hard it can be.
Trying to boil the essence of your carefully crafted story to a few paragraphs, or a page seems like the hardest thing ever.
I’m here to tell you it’s not. And that’s because there’s a greater horror: a book blurb.
A book blurb, or the book jacket description, summarizes the best part of your book in only 150 words (yep! one hundred and fifty).
If you’re wondering how to do that and where to start, it involves penning multiple drafts, lots of cutting, losing your sanity, and planning your blurb with the help of these steps.
Writing A Book Blurb In 4 Easy Steps
Step 1: Add A Tag-Line
Open with one catchy line, a question, or a hook.
Step 2: Introduce Your Main Character
Put their name, age (if applicable for the genre), their job (cop, teacher, high school student) and/or anything interesting that is specific to them (a princess, a thief, etc).
Step 3: Write About The Situation/Main Problem
Now it’s time to briefly discuss just one key point of your novel. It could be what kicks the story off, i.e. a murder. The main situation, such as a battle between two armies. Or the main problem, like a priceless stolen artifact and the hunt for it.
Step 4: End With The Stakes/Twist/Cliffhanger
Step four is one of the most important paragraphs. It needs to let the reader know the stakes (what will happen if the MC doesn’t get what they need), or hint at a twist, and end with the reader wanting more.
You want them desperate to know what happens in the story, wanting to open to the first page, wanting to read the book, wanting to buy it.
Unlike a synopsis, your book blurb is not a play-by-play of your story. You aren’t pitching to a publisher or agent, you’re pitching to a wide number of readers and they don’t need to know the ins-and-outs of your story to take an interest. They need hints to make them interested and eager to know what will happen.
It’s not a review, so keep any quotes about the book being “a mind-blowing trip” or “spine-tingling” out of it. They’re fine on your cover, or on the back in a separate section, but shouldn’t be part of the blurb.
Don’t over-think it. Don’t put everything in. Show off your creative writing. Set the tone of the story.
I recently used this formula to write the blurb for my upcoming debut, Blackbirch: The Beginning, which you can read below.
Welcome to Blackbirch. It’s a place no one forgets. Except for Josh Taylor.
The fatal car crash took more than 17-year-old Josh’s parents. It stole his memories and returned him to his birthplace, Blackbirch, a tourist town steeped in a history of witchcraft.
Amongst friends he’s forgotten and a life he doesn’t want, Josh is haunted by nightmares so believable he swears the girl in his dreams is real. Kallie is so captivating he ignores her blood-stained hands, but he can’t overlook the blue glow summoned to her skin.
Kallie says it’s an ancient magic they share and a secret worth hiding, because as Josh discovers, they aren’t the only gifted ones.
To restore his memories and find the true cause of the car accident, he must learn what’s real. And what secrets Blackbirch has buried in its woods.
As you can see, there’s a tag-line, the intro of the MC, a situation, the stakes, and a last line that hints at something more—all in only 142 words! This will go on the back of my book and (hopefully) entice readers to want to pick it up.
I also hope these tips and steps help you craft the best blurb for your book.
— K.M. Allan
If my blurb has piqued your interest and you’d like to read Blackbirch: The Beginning, I’ve got 25 ebook ARC’s (advanced reader copies) to give away in exchange for an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, or wherever you wish to leave one. Click the banner below to join the list.
The ARC’s will be released next week. First come, first served!