How to write a blurb for your novel

I asked Milan from The Blurb Butterfly to share some insight on how to write the best book blurb for your novel. Here’s what she had to say. 


As writers we have no problem describing a scene in minute detail, relating our characters emotions and colouring a beautiful tale, but when it comes to the dreaded blurb, most of us seem to come up blank.

Every author group or course will explain to you the importance of a blurb. They will tell you it’s the hook you need to get a click, the pitch you need to get interest. The bottom line is you could have written the most amazing book, but if you don’t have a blurb urging people to buy or read your book, all that effort, blood, sweat and tears (and wine in my case) will have been for nothing.

Writing blurbs used to fill me with dread too, but once you understand the principles, the dreaded blurb becomes highlight of your day (really I’m not kidding!).

Over the years through my ghost-writing, I have worked with amazing editors and publishers all demanding I submit a blurb with every book. Through their constructive feedback and countless hours of research, I have learned how to write a blurb that sells. I am by no means an expert and don’t want to portray myself as one, but here are a few steps that might help you with your next dreaded blurb.

The biggest mistake most authors make (me included) is you try to cram thousands of words and events into a few short paragraphs, is this really necessary? Face it, when you pick up a book that tells you exactly how it begins, how it ends and what happens in the middle, what’s the use of reading it?

A blurb is different from a synopsis (where this is expected especially if you submit to publishers), in that a blurb is meant to entice. That’s right, entice not educate. So when you read your blurbs – think to yourself: is this a description of my book or does it entice a reader? Sometimes having a buddy system works great as well. Get a blurb buddy! You can go over each other’s blurbs with more objectivity than you would yourself. This is where author groups are amazing. A fresh perspective might pick up things you’ve missed in the odd 48 hours it took you to create those three paragraphs. Don’t sweat it, we all learn from each other.

So how do you do it? Here’s how!

1. Tagline / Elevator Pitch / Hook

Call it what you want, you need it. You need a single line that can be used in marketing, advertising and most of all as a pitch. You need three elements in this single line. What, Where, Why?

That’s simple, right? So let’s break it down. This is a short synopsis (I thumb-sucked for the purpose of this article) that we’re going to turn into a hook.

Lisa Landon is a sixteen year old, frequently bullied, average student at school with red hair. She can see magical creatures. In her every day life she knows she will be locked up in an asylum if anyone found out, so no one knows, except Lisa. Beyond the town boundaries is a forest where Lisa knows magic resides. When Lisa goes on a quiet Sunday afternoon walk she awakes the slumbering witch from her thousand-year sleep and faces deathly consequences and challenges. As the magical creatures in the forest fear the wrath of the witch, they befriend Lisa in the hope of defeating the witch. They don’t know that Lisa is actually shy, often picked on and not at all the hero that they need.

The witch broils a storm in her cauldron, darkening the skies, signalling her evil helpers that she is awake. But before she can take over the forest, she needs to seek out the person that woke her, the only person that can put her back to sleep.

Lisa is caught in the storm, cold and hungry she faces terrors she never could have imagined. When the witch captures Lisa, she knows her life is about to end. But somehow she finds the courage to fight back.

Lisa finally defeats the witch in a game of winner takes all and heads back home only to find the town still has no idea of the danger and magic that lurks in the forest.

So for the hook, we’re going with something like this:

A girl with a secret, a magical forest and the evil witch that wants revenge.

Or

When Lisa wakes an evil slumbering witch all things dark break loose in the magical forest beyond her small town. Will Lisa be the hero to end it all?

So as you see we’ve broken it down but we haven’t given them too much. If they want to know more they need to scroll down, or they need click the advert to read the blurb. Now that you’ve got them hooked you need to be sure the blurb is going make them click the one-click button.

2. The actual description

Remember when you write the description you can’t tell them everything. You need to give them an indication of the genre, make them root for your main character and give them an idea of the challenges the main character will face. Never tell them how the story ends.

Here’s a blurb that is a little too informative, a little too long and just needs some tidying up.

Lisa Landon is a sixteen year old with a secret. She can see magical creatures. With little to no friends Lisa spends her free time in the forest beyond the town boundaries where she finds solace in the company of magic. She knows every stream, every trail and have made friends with the creatures only she can see.

When Lisa accidentally wakes an evil witch from a thousand year slumber she doesn’t realize the consequences of her actions. When her friends explain to her the darkness that will come with the witch’s power, they paint a dark picture that threatens the very existence of her town. Her new friends fear the wrath of the evil witch and only Lisa can return her to her eternal slumber.

The witch broils a storm in her cauldron darkening the skies, signalling her evil helpers that she is awake. But before she can take over the forest she needs to seek out the person that woke her, the only person that can put her back to sleep.

Can Lisa and her friends save the forest? Will Lisa be able to fight back against the darkest evil she has ever encountered? Enjoy a magical journey as Lisa embraces her secret and battles the dark witch.

What I’ve done with the blurb below is I’ve taken the main elements and created a blurb that will entice the reader’s interest.

The final result:

When Lisa wakes an evil slumbering witch, all things dark break loose in the magical forest beyond her small town. Will Lisa be the hero to end it all?

Lisa Landon is a sixteen year old with a secret. She can see magical creatures. With little to no friends Lisa spends her free time in the forest beyond the town boundaries where she finds solace in the company of magic.

When Lisa accidentally wakes an evil witch from a thousand year slumber she doesn’t realize the consequences of her actions. Her new friends fear the wrath of the evil witch and only Lisa can return her to her eternal slumber.

The witch broils a storm in her cauldron, darkening the skies to signal her evil helpers that she is awake. But before she can take over the forest she needs to seek out the person that woke her, the only person that can put her back to sleep.

3. Call to Action

At the end of your blurb you need a call to action. Something to make them click, buy or read your book. It’s always good to use words like buy, pick up, join, words that will make urge a potential readers to buy the book. Here are a few examples:

Can Lisa and her friends save the forest? Pick up The Slumbering Witch now to get lost in a magical tale of betrayal, true friendship and one girl’s destiny.

*

Buy The Slumbering Witch now to find out if Lisa will be able to fight back against the darkest evil she has ever encountered?

*

Enjoy a magical journey as Lisa embraces her secret and battles the dark witch. Can Lisa become the hero the magical creatures know her to be?

4. Other authors

If you know what type of books your fans usually will enjoy you might like to add something like this.

If you enjoy Sarah J Maas and Rachel Morgan, you will be spellbound by The Slumbering Witch.

*

The Slumbering Witch is a magical tale that readers of Sarah J Maas and Rachel Morgan will love.

5. The Final Result

When Lisa wakes an evil slumbering witch all things dark break loose in the magical forest beyond her small town. Will Lisa be the hero to end it all?

Lisa Landon is a sixteen year old with a secret. She can see magical creatures. With little to no friends Lisa spends her free time in the forest beyond the town boundaries where she finds solace in the company of magic.

When Lisa accidentally wakes an evil witch from a thousand year slumber she doesn’t realize the consequences of her actions. Her new friends fear the wrath of the evil witch and only Lisa can return her to her eternal slumber.

The witch broils a storm in her cauldron, darkening the skies to signal her evil helpers that she is awake. But before she can take over the forest she needs to seek out the person that woke her, the only person that can put her back to sleep.

If you enjoy Sarah J Maas and Rachel Morgan, you will be spellbound by The Slumbering Witch.

So, as you see,you’ve given them the pitch, the information they need to know if they would like the book and you’ve ended with a question. If they want the answer, they’ll need to buy your book. You’ve even given them similar authors to recognize if they will enjoy your writing or not. Don’t know who your writing is similar to? Ask your readers or a close friend or even your author groups.

Blurb writing doesn’t have to be hard, it has to be effective. When I’ve struggled with a blurb in the past, I always follow my own three step review process.

  1. Write blurb A and ignore it for two days.
  2. Review blurb A and make changes you feel appropriate, call it Blurb B.
  3. Review blurb B and make sure you tick all the boxes mentioned above.

Like learning the craft of writing, blurb writing is a craft on its own. To hone your skills read other blurbs, think how you would change them, what would make them better. And if you do get stuck, return to the four step process and start from scratch.

I hope this helped and you are already itching to write your next blurb.


If you’d rather have someone else take care of your blurb writing, you can get in touch with The Blurb Butterfly. 

You also might be interested in reading some of Milan’s novels.