Blurbs sell books. That’s their primary function—to get your books in the hands of readers. Its goal is not to give away your story but to compel the reader to pick up the book. You might know of it as a book description that is printed on the back cover of the book or appears on the description field of retailers like Amazon.
In this blog post, I’ll show you what to include in a blurb and help you deconstruct a blurb of a self-published bestselling novel to put things in perspective.
Parts of a Blurb
This is your hook, your chance to grab the reader by their throat. Make it short and make it punchy.
Most authors do not use a tagline, which is a mistake in this mobile age where almost everyone is browsing on their cell phones and only a few lines of the description text is displayed. This is your chance to make the reader click on the Read More button to read the rest of the blurb. Put it in bold—make it stand out.
Main Character & their Primary Conflict:
You might have a great story, but the primary reason a reader will pick up a book is if they care enough for your main character. This is the paragraph where you need to introduce your main character. Tell us in a sentence who they are and what they want.
Make the next sentence about their conflict—the challenge they are facing to get their goal. In the third sentence, raise the stakes. Tell the reader what your character stands to lose. Their job? Their sanity? The love of their life? How about their world and everyone in it? The higher the stakes the better. Without consequences, a conflict lacks drama. Some authors also like to add a dramatic question in this paragraph to establish what’s at stake.
Add some paragraphs, some white space here so the reader doesn’t have to look at a big blob of text.
In this paragraph, show the reader why this book is for them. It’s also an opportunity to let them know what genre the book is, if it is part of a series etc. Identify a bestselling book or an author or a famous main character that shares the market of your book and mention it in this paragraph, so that you have an opportunity to let their fans know that your book is what they have been looking for.
Call to Action:
Most authors end their blurb with a synopsis and hope the reader will scroll up and buy. The CTA asks the reader to do it, which much improves the chances of it happening.
Deconstructing a blurb:
Let’s see a blurb in action. This blurb is from Mark Dawson’s The Cleaner. Mark Dawson is a million-selling author and ranks among the Top 100 authors on amazon dot com.
MI6 created him. Now they want him dead. //Punchy tagline.
John Milton is an assassin for the British government, but he’s old and tired and wants to quit. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. Milton knows too much. The only way out of his job is in a box – there are no exceptions. //Main Character.
Milton goes on the run and meets a young mother who needs his help. Her son has been tempted by a life with a glamorous gang and the charismatic criminal who leads it. Milton must get the boy out of trouble – before it’s too late. //The Conflict.
And when his old agency sends another agent after him, the odds against him are stacked even higher. //Rising Stakes.
If you like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, you won’t be able to put down the compulsively addictive John Milton series. //Selling Paragraph.
Scroll up and click Look Inside or Buy NOW. //CTA.
Notice how long the blurb is? Only 150 words. You may take a few more, but short is your best friend here. Normally, 150-250 words is the sweet spot you want to hit.
Do you have a question about blurbs? Did you find this post informative? Let me know in the comments.