A strong, descriptive blurb is easily one of the most important and powerful selling tools for your book. Which is why you want to get it right. Whereas novels focus on creating intrigue and use blurbs that attempt to lure in the reader, blurbs for non-fiction books need to take a different approach. After all, the reader has turned to you, the author, for information rather than entertainment. Yes, the writing still needs to be as sharp as ever, but instead of creating suspense or drama, you’ll want to show your cards a little more. Here’s how:
- Determine your market. If you’ve just written a self-help book that focuses on time management and ways to be more efficient, you’ll want to look at similar books. Sure, there are loads of titles on the market relating to this topic, but where do you fit in? What’s unique about you? What’s your story? If you’re a single mother who’s parlayed good time management skills into a successful business, then make that your hook—you have a perfect niche market in other single mothers. Yes, others will read and love your book, too. But the readers who will feel like you really get them will be moms like you, looking for ways to maximize their time. Your success will be aspirational and persuade them to pick up your book—and, hopefully, recommend it to others.
- Make your opening line count. Like life in general, first impressions count. And when writing a blurb, your opening line is your first impression. Short, pithy, surprising sentences or information will grab the reader’s attention. And it’s not a bad idea to lead with the most outrageous claim you have. We’re not suggesting you make something up, but a clever use of words to create a need-to-know urgency in your reader never hurts.
- Write in your own voice. This is key, really. Your blurb should be written in the same voice as your book. This sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but you’d be shocked to know how many writers miss the mark here. A potential reader looks at the blurb the same way they would look at the book itself. In a non-fiction book, you are selling your knowledge, your writing, and yourself, so if the blurb doesn’t represent the typical language you use in your book, the reader will feel a disconnect. Besides, you have loads to offer, and writing like yourself will only make your words more authentic and impactful.
- Showcase your knowledge. It’s okay to offer some of your tips or learnings in your blurb. You don’t want to give it all away, but you do need to show your authority and experience. Demonstrate that you know something valuable which will help your readers. To continue with the time management example, you could consider listing the top five ways people waste time each and every day and the three small changes that improve time management by 50%. The stat alone sells the knowledge, and the tips make the book worth picking up, promising that there will be more of that useful advice inside.
- Get testimonials. Whenever you see a book with testimonials written by famous authors, popular magazines, or prominent newspapers, the writer’s stock immediately goes up. Which is exactly why they worked so hard to get those testimonials in the first place. Work your network to get the best testimonials you can. If someone with widespread notoriety is completely out of the question, approach someone who is known within your field. Or someone who was recently on a popular talk show. You can approach almost anyone for a testimonial, and offer them an advance copy of the book for free. If they like the book, they will likely be willing to write some nice words for the back cover.