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Writing a Winning Blurb

A blurb is the description of your book, found on the back cover. Marilynn Byerly,a best-selling author, says that “Blurbs are the second most important selling tool you have for your book, so you want it to grab the reader’s attention” I realize how incredibly important a blurb is for enticing people to read a book, so I’ve been obsessing over my own. After struggling with it for weeks, I finally turned to the internet for advice. I thought I’d share some of the things I learned.

As my story is a YA Fantasy with romance, I looked at how Marilynn Byerly suggested creating a blurb for a fantasy story. What I gathered, she recommends the following:

  1. Setting First
  2. Plot Set Up
  3. Main Character Emotional Involvement and Exterior Conflict

Amy Wilkins, who writes blurbs for Harlequin, suggests hooking your reader with your protagonist by asking yourself what the reader needs to know right away. Or, to focus more on your setting, if it is unusual.

She also discusses something called “shoutlines,” which I’ve never heard of before. They are the bolded text between paragraphs or at the start of a blurb that grab your attention. But, she emphasizes that you need to ask yourself if it is needed or adds anything by having it.

One thing Amy really focused on is finding that balance with how much plot to involve. If your reader doesn’t need to know it, or it gives your whole plot away, it’s probably best to leave it out. She suggested picking a spot a quarter or a third of the way through, and not telling anything after that point.

Another thing she suggested, which I hadn’t thought of, was to us a line from your own book. She says it should set up something and can really covey the author’s voice.

Her final suggestion was to end with conflict. That way, you leave the reader wanting more.

I really found these tips useful, but I think it is still a really difficult thing to try to find that balance between hooking your reader with your characters and plot, yet not giving too much away. It also seems so easy to fall into using cliques to make my points. I must avoid them, no matter how tempting!

Any suggestions on how to write a great blurb? What completely turns you away from a book, after you read the blurb?

Websites on writing great blurbs:

http://www.marilynnbyerly.com/blurb.html#SFANDFANTASY

http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/5-tips-on-how-to-write-a-blurb-for-your-book/

http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/11/23/5-top-tips-for-writing-a-compelling-book-blurb-by-amy-wilkins/

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