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.