When writing a novel, there are few selling tools as important as a solidly written book blurb. Sure, the cover design creates intrigue. But, if you have caught a potential reader’s attention, the blurb is what will sell your book—and convert readers. When defining a “blurb” it’s important to distinguish between a “description blurb” that you write for the back cover of your book and a “review blurb”. Here, we’ll be focusing on the former. How to write a blurb as an author.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Blurb
- Reference the genre and central theme
- Create intrigue around the main conflict
- Dive right in and introduce your protagonist
- Keep it short and punchy
- Reference your book-writing or professional status, if it relates to your book
- Give away any spoilers, no matter how tempted you are
- Give a summary of the first chapter
- Open with “In a world,” or any other overused phrase
- Give everything away
- Say how amazing your book is
- Compare yourself to other writers or your book to other books
The Anatomy and Examples of a Blurb
While there’s no perfect formula for writing the best blurb for your novel, there are some patterns worth noting. Firstly, highlighting your success in the book-writing world. Secondly, introducing the protagonist in a way that creates intrigue without delving into details. And last but not least, referencing the central point of conflict—without explaining how a resolution may come about.
Take a look at the blurb examples below—Bella Andre’s, Kiss Me Like This, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Take note of any patterns. Any consistencies. And what the authors seem to be saying. And not saying.
Blurb Example #1
Kiss Me Like This, Bella Andre
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Bella Andre, comes a New Adult contemporary series about The Morrisons!
Sean Morrison, one of six siblings and the top college baseball player in the country, is reeling from a heartbreakingly painful loss. Nothing seems to matter anymore … until the night Serena Britten unexpectedly ends up in his arms.
Serena is a world-famous model who has only ever wanted to be normal, even though her mother has always pushed her to become a superstar. Though it isn’t easy to try to leave everyone and everything she knows behind, Serena is determined to enroll in college. More than anything, she wants to turn her love for books into a new career that she actually loves. Only she never expected to meet someone like Sean on campus—or to be instantly consumed by their incredible chemistry and connection.
But when the pressures of her high-profile modeling career only get bigger and more demanding, will it make living a normal life as a college student–and falling in love with the hottest guy on campus—impossible?
Blurb Example #2
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love—and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
Blurb Example #3
Fifty Shades of Grey, E L James
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
While each author has approached their blurb differently, the gist is clear. Introduce your main character, create intrigue, and don’t give it all away.