So you've written your book, you've got the perfect illustrations to accompany it and your front cover screams 'read me!'... are you ready for your blurb?
What is a 'blurb'?
A blurb is the text on the back of your book which describes what your book is about. The dictionary says;
Why is it important?
Think of it as your sales pitch - that one chance to describe your story to potential readers and hook them in. A lot of authors write their blurb as an afterthought - something that sums up the end of their project when really, you should be thinking about this before you've even finished writing your story! Your blurb will be the text on which the rest of your book is judged - rush it or half heartedly write it and the customer may think your story will be the same.
Every word in your blurb should work towards selling your idea, your story, your characters - and make it the reader want to find out more! Why should they buy it? Why this book? Your blurb should be THE BEST blurb you could possibly write for this book, anything less will not do.
What should it contain?
There are no set rules for what your blurb should and shouldn't contain, but in my many years of working with children's books I've read a lot of them - good and bad. Here's some pointers to get you started.
What kind of book have you written? A kids picture book? A horror novel? Make sure it's clear what kind of book your reader can expect!
What words describe your book and fit well with it's theme? Fast? Passionate? Quirky? Awkward? Sad? These are the words you should try to use. Try to only use powerful words and avoid cluttering up sentences with pointless, long descriptions.
Who is reading your book? If your book is aimed at high school girls, then you probably don't want to talk to them in the same way you would a 54 year old mechanic. Use appropriate language for your target audience.
Keep it SHORT!
I can't stress this one enough - you have a very limited window to sell your book here, someone has picked it up and is actually reading the back of it! Don't bore them or scare them away with an essay. keep it short, sweet, to-the-point and make every word an important, powerful word.
Your blurb should sound nice. (Sound nice?) Yes! A little bit like a poetic verse, your blurb wants to roll of the tongue, be easy to read and flow like a lover serenading. I've included below some examples of blurbs from popular, famous books that you have most likely read. Let's see if you can guess which book they are from!*
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is
rescued by a beetle-eyed giant of a man, enrols at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The reason: HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!
Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters, searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they'll find a place of their own and live the American dream. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn't know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss's daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him...
When Alice follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit-hole, she finds herself in a wonderland of amazing characters where anything can happen. There is a Mad Hatter, a March Hare and a sleepy Dormouse who hold a never-ending tea-party; a Cheshire-cat who appears and disappears at will; a sad Mock Turtle who enjoys dancing with a Gryphon; a Caterpillar who gives invaluable advice on how to shrink and grow and a Queen of Hearts whose constant command is 'Off with their heads!'
Think about your font...
It may not be the first thing you think of, but the font of your blurb is important too. Overall, it must be readable, but you want the font to relate to the book and accompany the theme. Don't settle for Times New Roman because it was the default font - explore and experiment to see what fits best!
Print out your blurb at the size it will be read. Does it look good? Can you read it? Does it sit on the back cover nicely? Could it be better?
There are plenty of fonts available on the net and a lot of them are free! Just make sure you are allowed to use them for commercial use.
Should I pay someone to write a good blurb for me?
I've seen several publishers offering a relatively cheap service to write a 'professional' blurb. While I can't say I have ever used this service, I can see why it is appealing. Ask yourself - have you tried writing your own before giving up? Has the person writing your blurb actually read your story? Do they have the same connection you have to your characters and the events that shape their lives?
I'd be interested to hear if you did pay for a blurb and the outcome was successful - please get in touch in the comments below!
I hope that helped you write your blurb, or at least got you thinking about what it should contain. Good luck with your book!
In the meantime, if you have a project you need illustrating, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can see my online portfolio on my website at www.izzybean.co.uk
*The answers to the famous blurbs...
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
Of Mice and Men
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Did you guess correctly? Let us know in the comments!