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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

How to Write a Brilliant Blurb

Last week I blogged about that dreaded second draft of my manuscript I have to do and this week I can happily say I'm really stuck into it. Once I made a list of the components I would like to alter it was easy to go through my book and make the necessary changes. I have already read through the manuscript twice to make amends to obvious errors, so I already have a list of the more subtle parts to change.

Now I'm nearing the end of my second draft I realise I have the blurb to address. Almost every writer will say the blurb is in the top three points of whether or not your book will be successful, along with the book cover and how the book is actually written. So I know I can't mess this vital part up and I vow to write the blurb with military precision.

I also know I have to let the manuscript rest once I am certain I am finished with it. Then after a suitable time has passed I will read it several times again just to make sure I am happy with it and then I'll start to write the blurb.

So, how am I going to do this?

Blurbs are known for being short and snappy so I think the best thing to do is write a whole page detailing every description in my book.

Sound ludicrous?

Yes, it is a bit but let me explain.

Once I have written everything there is to know about my book I can go back to the description and edit it like mad. I will condense like I have never condensed before. I might aim for about 1,000 words initially but then I will seek out the most compelling part of the description and focus on that - keeping in mind that I want to hook my reader in and not give the plot away.

Too many books, especially in the genre of chick lit, ask a question in the blurb and then proceed to answer it. Personally, I don't want to write a blurb like this because I know the reader inside of me will only want to read a book to find out what happens. So why would I read a book like this if I already know what's going to happen? That's the issue I have to keep in mind because I know a lot of other people who are like this and I don't want to make that mistake for my book. I want to give enough information about the book without giving too much away and that is the hardest job to do.

So tell me - how do you write blurbs?


  1. There must be as many ways of attacking this task as there are ways of skinning a goat and I can do that five different ways, each appropriate to what the sking is ultimately to be used for.
    My choice for blurb writing is to start from the original Synopsis. That tends to be about a thousand words long and contains enough key elements to let prospective publishers (for whom it was originally written) know what the book is about.
    My next stage is rather like reverse engineering a Rolf Harris painting. He used to start with a six inch brush and make a few bold strokes. When you stood back you could see an outline to which he then began to add a limited amount of detail with smaller brushes and some colour. It's a bit like writing really where you build up the detail of your story on a sketchy outline.
    So for blurb writing the process is one of removing detail but leaving the essence in place. The important thing is that you must leave a hook to catch the reader's attention, to make her or him look inside. You're a fisherman and the blurb is your fly.
    Once the fly has been swallowed, you can reel the fish in with your story.

  2. I started with my query letter and worked out from there. But then again, I didn't get an agent, so maybe that wasn't such a great idea after all :-(

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  4. I'm a writer and freelance editor and as part of the editing process, I help other authors with writing submission letters, synopses and blurbs, and the difference between a synopsis and blurb is the former should tell all (including the ending) and the blurb should entice, but not tell too much (as you say, LK). But they should both be concise and appealing. Most agents / publishers don't want a synopsis over a page (some will allow two but due to time constraints, prefer one). If you waffle in your cover letter, synopsis, blurb, what does that say about your writing?

    The blurb, like the title and front cover, should also represent the book. I've read blurbs to books that have little relevance, as film clips sometimes do - they lead you in one direction then you're disappointed when the end product is not what you were expecting or hoping for.

    Of course unless you're self-publishing with no second / third opinions your editor / agent will have more experience than you, but you do want to do the best you can in the first instance. Not only will it make their lives easier (for which they'll be eternally grateful) but they'll see you're professional and more likely want to work with you.

    I have some writing / editing tips on

    Morgen (with an e)

  5. Hi Ian,

    I love your Rolf Harris analogy - what a great way to do things! Thanks for sharing.


    Thanks for your tips, I'll check out your website right now.


    Better luck next time!

  6. I don't know if mine are any good but I started with my one page synopsis and adapted the first two paragraphs for mine.