Writing an awesome book blurb

This post is the forty-first in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I wrote about designing your front cover to entice readers to pick up (or click on the link for) your book. Now that the cover has done its job, you need an awesome book description to convince the reader to purchase your book.

A good book blurb is an essential element in selling your novel. Some people find writing book blurbs easy while others struggle with exactly what to say and how long to make their description. The important thing is not to dismiss this significant element in marketing your novel.

The purpose of the book description or blurb is to grab the reader’s attention. Think of the blurb as a movie trailer. A good blurb hints at the story but doesn’t give everything away. A well-written blurb can be the deciding factor on whether the reader purchases your book so definitely spend some time perfecting your copy.

For a short story, the book blurb should only be one or two paragraphs. For novels, consider three paragraphs of no more than 250 words total. Here is a brief overview of what each paragraph might contain but worry more about good prose instead of following this formula.

First paragraph: Introduce your character and the setting. Or open by building the overall plot and setting.

Example: At the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.

Second paragraph: Set the mood and the conflict. In other words, delve a little deeper into the plot.

Example: Now an adult, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

Third paragraph: Steer toward the resolution (Remember to hint at it and not give it away.) Leave the reader wanting more.

Example: On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago.  Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

I read a lot of book blurbs through the authors I feature on this blog every Friday. I lot of them are not doing their job of enticing me to buy their book. They are chocked full of unnecessary information and often are too long.

Questions to consider so you don’t reveal too much of the plot.

Does the reader really need to know that? (And be harsh when answering this.)

Could what I wrote be a spoiler?

Am I revealing how the conflict was resolved?

Use Action and Emotive Words

When writing, pick words that show action and evoke emotions.

Here are some powerful adjectives often found in book blurbs: devastating, heart-wrenching, harrowing, passionate, terrifying, joyful, entrancing, searing, unforgettable, enchanting, chilling, heartbreaking, heart-rending, pulsating, bewitching, captivating, shocking, endearing, and spell-binding.

But make sure if you use these terms that they are accurate. Don’t tote your novel as fast-paced, action adventure when it isn’t.

End with conflict

Always leave the reader wanting more. The last line should have them dying to know what happens. You can end with a question or hint at future danger. But most of all, do not hint at how things will be resolved. You want them to read the book for find that out!

Remember, the book blurb is your sales pitch. Don’t skimp; spend time polishing it. The well-written blurb really can make all the difference.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

Planning fun activities to keep the kids busy this summer

School has been out for the past 10 days. That means it is time to write my annual “What we are doing this summer” post. The kids are now 10 and 13. As they get older, it gets harder and harder to find things that they want to do. But if left to their own devices, they would…be on their devices or the Xbox all day. So, to give them a break from the electronics and to put an end to the bickering that always seems to crop up lately, I have come up with some things we will be doing this summer.

Water Park/Pool

I love the free option of our neighborhood pool, and we plan to go there a few times a week. I prefer to go in the morning because we often have the place to ourselves, but if we go in the afternoon, we have a better chance of running into classmates or friends. Either way the kids have fun.

We also have a season pass to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. While it is too hot to enjoy the theme park rides during the hot summer days, the water park offers a fun afternoon.

Zoo/Bowling

In addition to the season pass to Six Flags, we also have a membership to the Zoo. As the kids get older, the zoo holds a little less appeal, but we will make it there at least once this summer to see the new dinosaur exhibit. We also have a membership to a local bowling alley that allows us to come every day if we want to bowl up to three games a day. That sound like a little much but a weekly trip is in our plans.

Life Skills

Two summers ago, we went over some “life skills” which included laundry, bank/credit cards, renting vs owning, cooking, and other things to help them survive out on their own. Since, they need the practice, we will continue with having them do laundry and some additional cleaning chores. And Jase has expressed an interest in doing some more cooking lessons.

Violin/Typing/Cursive lessons

During the summer, getting Jase to practice his violin instead of playing video games can be hard but luckily, he still has his weekly tutoring sessions, and Dr. K will certainly expect him to practice between meetings.

Jase also has decided that this summer he wants to learn to touch-type. I have found a few online free programs, so we will be working on their typing skills. And lastly, I want to work on cursive writing, which we tried to work on in a previous summer break. While Lexie likes writing her name in cursive, Jase doesn’t see the point. But neither kid is good at it, and neither one can read cursive so time for more lessons.

While in the past, I have had them do school work in the summer to avoid the Summer Slide, I don’t have any concrete plans this year to have them do school work, but I figure we might get a bit in here and there.

Trips

And in between these activities, we do have two trips planned. The first is a short three-day trip to Bastrop, Texas. This is a work trip for my husband as he attends the annual city attorney’s conference. While he hears lectures, the kids and I go to the water park, ride bikes and enjoy the other amenities the resort has to offer.

And then in August we have a family Alaskan cruise planned. This trip will be more than just our family of four. My parents and brother are also coming on the trip. We have some fun excursions planned, plus the kids are just excited to be going to Alaska. I will be sure to post more about this as it gets closer.

Overall, I think I will have enough option available to keep the kids busy rather than bored…or more importantly off their electronics for some of the summer.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Joanne Otto

Please welcome author Joanne Otto to my blog. Joanne is on a virtual book tour to promote her books The You-Song and Daughter of Jerusalem. 

The You-Song

The You-Song celebrates, in a way young children can understand, the unique and vital place each of us occupies in God’s world and encourages them to fill their place in it with joy. Written by a teacher who’s helped many children overcome reading challenges, “The You-Song” is user-friendly, consisting of words that are either familiar or easy to decode. Lavishly illustrated with nearly 50 heart-warming photos, it’s also fun to read aloud to pre-readers.

Juvenile Nonfiction

Daughter of Jerusalem

Daughter of Jerusalem” takes its 21st-century readers on a journey back to the first-century world of a young rabbi named Yeshua—better known to us as Jesus. Mara, the young heroine of this story, gets to mingle with the crowds who come to hear him teach during his visits to Jerusalem and, finally, to meet him face to face in a brief, life-changing encounter—one that comes at no small cost to herself. For middle-grade readers who want to use the book as a springboard for deeper study, there are Bible references and questions on each chapter, as well as a glossary. For others, the story itself will be the full journey.

Christian Fiction

About the Author

Joanne Otto is a lifelong student of the Bible who has taken four exciting tours of Bible lands and done extensive research, including numerous courses. She has taught foreign languages and English and more recently, as an academic language therapist, has helped dyslexic children strengthen their reading and writing skills. Also a music lover and amateur pianist, she especially enjoys accompanying singers.

You can find out more about Joanne on her website.

You can purchase Joanne’s books on Amazon.

Investing in an eye-catching book cover

This post is the fortieth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I discussed two components of your book cover – the title and your author name (and whether a pen name would be beneficial.) Today, I want to cover the designing of your book cover.

The cover of your book is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. It doesn’t matter if you have a great story if no one is willing to pick up the book or in the case of e-books, click on the image. The cover is the first thing your readers see and is where they decide if your book is worth their time to even read the book description.

Things you want in a cover:

  • Simple, easy to understand
  • Having an impact or something that grabs the reader’s attention
  • If it is for an e-book, make sure it looks good at thumbnail size.

Things to avoid:

  • Too many things on the cover/clutter
  • Bad layout where title and author names are in bad location or size. (If you are famous, your name could be bigger than the title but typically you want the title to stand out more than your name.)

Now you may already have an idea about what you want on your cover, but if not, you may want to visit a book store or browse Amazon to see what style of cover grabs your attention.

If you have the resources and the know-how, there is nothing wrong with creating your own cover if it looks professional and is eye-catching. But most authors are better off if they let an expect design their cover. There are a variety of different designers out there offering a wide variety of cover designs.

To find a list of cover designers, check out this list on Smashwords. From there, you can look at each designer’s portfolio and pricing. (Some of the more popular ones have really long wait lists for covers!) The process will go easier if you have an idea of what you want on your cover,  but if you have no clue, most designers will be able to show you a few options based on your story synopsis or sample chapters.

Unless you are going to pay someone to draw your cover, most designers are going to be working with graphics and stock photos. If you want an idea of what is out there, check out stock photo sites such as istockphotodreamstime and bigstockphoto.

There are even designers that have pre-made covers that they just drop in your title and name. I am not saying these are bad if you just happen to find something that fits your book perfectly but in general, I would rather have something designed specifically for my book.

Take some time to look at covers of popular books and find out what you like. Think about what you think will entice a reader to pick up or click on your book. And then take the time to create a profession design or have someone do it for you. The time and effort that you devote to designing your cover will definitely pay off in the end.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name