The Back Cover Blurb.
Back Cover Blurb.
By now there are authors blanching dead white and running for the hills as fast as their legs will carry them. Others might pretend they didn’t understand what I said. Still others might pretend they don’t understand English.
As an editor, none of the above surprises me at all.
Ask any author what they dislike most about the writing process, and about half will scream ‘Back Cover Blurb!’ while the rest will sob out ‘Full Synopsis.’ However, that’s a blog for another day. I wouldn’t want to traumatize anyone by blogging you up with both.
So today we’ll just talk blurbs. After I’ve locked the door and trapped you inside, bwa haa haa HAAAAA.
Blurbs are your readers’ very first contact with your book, other than when you gave a copy of your final galley to Great-Aunt Gert and she inhaled it from cover to cover without even knowing the plotline, other than “It’s about a boy and girl who . . .”
Anyone else wants to be romanced and tickled a bit. Another of your varied author-jobs, you lucky duckies. Just when you think you’re all finished writing the book, they PULL you back in and make you write some more.
For the readers, dang it all.
But in the wide, wide world of BookSales-Land, potential readers are kind of the Head Cheeseheads. You’ve got to feed them slices of Gouda rather than a squirt from a spray can of homogenized/ pasteurized cheese product.
And it’s not that hard to do. Honest.
Probably the best way to start a blurb is to finesse out the finer points of your full synopsis; those tempting bits that reveal just enough.
Uh-oh. You did write up a full synopsis, didn’t you? No?
Well, we can talk during one of my future blogs, where I cover full synopses. ::wink::
For now, let’s start by picking out a few plot-spots that reveal without revealing anything. Make a list of at least three, consecutive spots of your book, three that move your story without spoiling the ending or any big, vital moments. Make sure there is no actual book dialogue, book narrative, or characters’ physical description in the three spots. Your reader will find out the color of your heroine’s eyes or hair when they read the book. They will take in dialogue at the same time.
What you ultimately want is two to three short paragraphs of information, one for each consecutive spot you chose from your story. They need to connect and follow in a manner that persuades your reader they can’t live without buying your book. But they shouldn’t give anything away. At the same time they should promote the overall emotional theme. Did you write humor? Your blurb should be humorous. What about drama, mystery, crime? Yes, yes, and yes. Lust? Oh, heck yes. If your genre contains it, reflect it in your blurb.
Do short blurbs work? Absolutely. It all depends on quality over quantity and if you can get the gist across in a succinct manner. What about a long blurb? Again, it’ll depend on quality versus quantity. I have written both, and both were successful blurbs that sold books for me.
Should your editor help you write your blurb? Not from scratch. As an author you owe it to yourself to try writing your own. Nobody knows your story better than you do, right? However, if you have trouble figuring it out or fret over blurb content, absolutely show it to your editor and ask for help. Your successful blurb helps them, too.
How do you end a fab blurb? Why, with a cliffhanger, of course.
Sometimes posing a question works: ‘Will Maude ever get over her broken heart, and let love in again?’
Sometimes a trail off (ellipse) gets it across best: ‘He broke Maude’s heart, but she’s not taking it lying down . . .’
If those don’t work, you can always fall back on what I call the ‘I-know-something-you-don’t-know’ cliffhanger: ‘Maude’s broken heart: mended or doomed? Find out in (insert book title here).’
As long as it ends with the reader dying to know what happens next, you should be good to go.
One last thing before I unlock the door and release you from your unwilling participation in this blog:
Never underestimate the power of a back cover blurb. Or your talent in creating one.
Have a great week ahead, folks. I’m just going to hang out here for a bit and see what I can cook up for that full-synopsis blog.
Okay. Now you can run.
Char Chaffin is a Senior Acquiring Editor with Soul Mate Publishing, and multi-published in several genres. She also co-writes under the pen name CiCi Cordelia, with fellow author/editor and BFF Cheryl Yeko.
You can find Char here: