For the next instalment of my series on self-publishing here is a short post on book blurbs.

Once you are preparing to upload your manuscript and sell it you need to have a blurb – this is the few paragraphs of text that show on the book page on each retailer and give the readers a taste of the story and hook them in to purchase it.

Man, these are harder to write than the book itself. Summarising the key characters, conflicts and world into less than a hundred and fifty words is a different skill to writing the novel. So don’t expect to be good at it the first time you try, or the fiftieth time you try. 

Personally I like to write a version of the blurb early in my drafting process, then I can have that and the cover printed out to look at and inspire me while I am writing the story. I will then revise it as it gets closer to the launch of the book, to make it as strong as I can. Then, if I feel that the book isn’t preforming as well as I had hoped I can tweak the blurb to emphasise different parts of the story or to have a different feel. Blurbs aren’t set in stone and you can change them to see which does better.

Things to include in your blurb: the main character, the world, their goals, the conflict, and the stakes. All within a hundred and fifty words. This is a tall order and writing good blurbs is difficult. Somehow it is easier to write good blurbs for someone else’s story, so find other authors who you can critique each other’s blurbs so that they can all get stronger. 

Look at other blurbs within your genre to see how they describe their book, and the keywords they are using. See how they hook the readers in at the beginning, and their call to action at the end. Then apply that to your story. 

Think about how you can use bold and headings to draw the eye to the most important parts. You can use the kindle book description generator to create the code to make the blurb look as you wish it to on the sales site. This is especially important for Amazon where, if you’re not careful, you end up with one block of text. 

NB The blurb on your retailer and the copy on the back cover of your paperback don’t have to be the same. Often they might start out the same, but as you refine the blurb for the retailers you won’t always update the text on the back cover – this requires you to get updated image files from your cover designer, and so is more difficult than updating the text on the retailers.

Blurbs are something that I am very much a novice at, so I would advise you to look around for more advice and study what other people have used successfully. They are vital though, as a good blurb and a good cover are two of the most important marketing tools you have to sell your book.

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