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Three Tips for Writing a Book Blurb

By Melissa Tagg

First of all, can we talk about how the word “blurb” is kinda funny? I mean, say it enough times and it sounds like you’re trying to mimic an animal. What animal, I don’t know. Nor do I know why a person would sit around saying “blurb” over and over.

But still.

Recently several friends and I helped each other out with a couple book blurbs in preparation for a contest. A few tips came to mind as we emailed back and forth, so I thought I’d share them today.

1. Avoid needless descriptors.

Blurbs are meant to be brief…and punchy. And nothing pokes holes in “brief and punchy” like needless words. The usual culprits are –ly adjectives and adverbs. Many of us have already had that drilled into us, but this also comes into play in other ways.

For instance, we don’t need to know if your book is set in central Iowa. Just say Iowa and voila, you’ve saved yourself a word. Is your story about “a mysterious antique box from 1918?” Well, you can skip the word “antique” because if it’s from 1918, that’s a given.

2. Follow the Hero/Heroine-Goal/Desire-Problem/Challenge Rule.

It’s true that in most cases, formulas make me want to cry. Why? Because where there is a formula, there is also likely math and/or science. *shudder* But in this case, a formula actually makes something easy!
From the Start cover
The formula goes like this:

[Main Character]

…wants/desires/dream about

…[Main Character’s main objective in the story]

…BUT

…[What’s the biggest challenge or obstacle the character faces? What gets in the way of the objective?]

If you’ve got both a hero and heroine as POV characters, then do a paragraph for each. Depending on the use for your blurb, your formula may stretch into three or four sentences for each POV character.

3. Get someone else to write it for you. I’m totally serious! If you’ve got a craft partner or close-knit writing group that knows your story, then ask someone else to write your blurb…or at least help you write it.

I think sometimes we are SO close to our own stories, we have so many details, layers and subplots jumbled up in our brains, that winnowing our story down into a simple blurb feels more overwhelming than it should. And while it’s true nobody else knows your story the way you do, someone on the outside looking in just might be able to drill down to the main thread. After all, they’re not bogged down by the side effects of 95,000 words.

So there you go-three tips that hit me as my friends and I worked on blurbs. Happy blurb-ing!

MelissaTagg May 2014Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. She writes romantic comedy for Bethany House, and is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Her newest book, From the Start, releases today! She blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at http://www.melissatagg.com.

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6 Responses to Three Tips for Writing a Book Blurb

  1. Pingback: Book Blurbs | Nancy Faltermeier

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  3. Thank you for this, Melissa! I’ve always struggled writing blurbs, so this will definitely help.

    If I could offer one additional piece of advice, it would be to not give away too much of the story. I’ve read so many blurbs lately that give spoilers from late in the book, it ruins the experience.

  4. Great tips and advice!!

  5. Where were you yesterday when I needed you!! Seriously good stuff. And Brenda’s comment was also good to remember.

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