Why You Should Write A Book Blurb (and some tips on how to do that)

Saturday, April 16, 2016
Since I am on a youth retreat this weekend, the lovely Hannah agreed to guest post for me! After you read her awesome post below, don't forget to enter the giveaway of GO TEEN WRITERS I have going on. :D

Hi everybody! I am so excited and honored to get to talk to you all today. Katie is an amazing and wonderful author/human (but I'm sure you are already aware of this) and I am so happy she gave me this opportunity to stretch out in the blogging community and give you some (hopefully) beneficial advice. Because, like, me posting on her blog? WOW. I'm a newbie and she's a blogger QUEEN so. 

*is very excited and humbled and flattered*

On with the post!


We all know that dreaded question. The moment one of our friends figures out we are a writer, it never lingers too far behind in the suddenly terrifying conversation.

"So, what's your book about?"

Uh-oh. 

If you're anything like me, you'll have that moment of crisis. What is my book about anyway? Drat -- what's my MC's name again? I only spent three hundred and seventy-two pages with him. How could I forget this? Oh no. They're staring at me. They're waiting for me to say something, aren't they? But how on God's sweet earth am I supposed to explain to this mortal the extent of my pure geniusness?

As writers, I'm sure you can all sympathize with this scenario. We want to tell our friends what we're writing, but when the chance comes, the word get all mixed up. We want to tell them what our book is about ... without making it sound like a lame Lord of the Rings wannabe or some cliche paperback you found in the free bin outside a thrift store.

But, you see, it doesn't have to be a 'dreaded question.' In fact, it can become something you actually look forward to.

How is this possible? 

I'm glad you asked. 

You only have to do one little thing. (Granted, it's a hard thing. But it's still just one Thing and that's not as scary as a bunch of Things.)

You must write a book blurb.



When you pick up a novel and flip it over -- that's the book blurb. (unless you have a hard back. Then the book blurb is on the jacket's front flap once you open the book) The summary of your novel that is (usually) two to three paragraphs long. It can also be called a back cover copy of a write-up. But. They're all the same thing.

NOTE: A book blurb is not a synopsis. A synopsis is a whole different ball game(writer game? paper game? eh. you get the point).



In case you're still having doubts about why you should write on of these (they're hard to write, after all) here are a few reasons to convince you of how amazing they are. (if you're already convinced, feel free to skip them)

It's a super easy way to tell someone what your book is about.

I love it when someone asks and I can just say, "Oh here, I have a blurb on my phone. Let me just ..." and then I pull up my notes app and they can just read it and I don't even have to say a word. The blurb speaks for itself. And, nine times out of ten, (whether they're sincere or not) they'll look up at me when they're done and say, "that sounds really cool!" And I can just let out a long breath and relax. There's no stuttering through a brief and terrible summary where I say "um" and "like" a gazillion times and manage to make my fantasy sound like a cheesy cliche mess.

If you're dealing with an online friend, then it's also such a relief. You can just copy it from the notes app into your message and they can read it like *snap*
-
It earns you some respect, especially with writers.

You ask, "What's your book about?" and then wait. And then -- whoa. you mean you actually have a blurb? And it reads well? WOW.

Writing a blurb -- and writing a good one -- is so critical not only because it sums up your book in a quick and easy way, but because it shows them you have a good idea and you can write well. if you stumble through an explanation of what your novel is about, there's a good chance you'll give them the wrong idea about your story and they'll think you can't write. But a well-polished blurb tells them, yes you do write well and yes, this idea is a good one.
-
It's a really good way to get beta readers.

I am only on the second draft of my WIP, and already I've gotten several people that I don't even know ask if they can beta for me. Why? Because, after seeing a collage or snippet from my story, they asked what it was about and I gave them my blurb. And what's more, they liked it. And they wanted to read the book that it belonged to. I'm not sure when I'll formally ask for betas, but when I do, I know for sure I'll need a blurb. 

And there will probably come a time for all of you when you will need betas. And what will you need to give them?
A blurb.

I encourage you to write a blurb sooner rather than later. You'll have to do it eventually, whether you get beta readers or not (and, um, you really should get them). So why not get it over with and just write it now?

"But it's hard," you might whine. "How am I supposed to write a good one?" 

Well. I am by no means an expert on this subject, but I'd like to think that I can offer some sound, logical advice.


Tip 1: WRITE IT NOW.

Yeah. Now. Like, right now. Tear yourself away from my captivating words (ha) and go write a blurb (I dare you). Go make a word document or pull out your journal or whatever, and write. a. blurb. Don't tell me you don't know how. You've read them before. Just write it how you've read them. If you do it wrong, who cares? You can just edit it or rewrite it entirely if necessary.

NOTE: You can write a blurb at any point in the story making process. You can write it when you get the idea. You can write it before you get the idea. (Although that would be rather difficult...) You can write it after the first draft, or during it. Just write it. Wherever you are, even if you think you don't know enough about your story to write one yet, try. Besides, if you have an idea for your book, you should be able to do it. After all, the blurb is supposed to be what the book is about. If you have the idea, you can write at least a rough paragraph to start yourself off.
-
Tip 2: USE THE INCITING INCIDENT.

The inciting incident is your key to hooking readers: that Something that happens in the first couple of chapters that starts the story off, that sends your character on a journey. The big Thing that the book is all about.

Use it. It's sort of a spoiler (only sort of), but that's how you're going to hook your readers. They'll find out about it soon enough in the book anyway. Give a little backstory (just enough for the readers to know what kind of character they're going to be dealing with and the other absolute essentials.) and then hurl that big Thing to pique their interest.

ANOTHER NOTE: the inciting incident, let me clarify, is the event that changes your character's normal world. It's the event that kicks the story into action and it usually happens by the end of the second or third chapter.
-
Tip 3: HINT AT LATER ACTION.

So. We already know the Big Thing that happens. That's the prompt. Our character has to make a decision: to go or to stay? To flee or to face? To submit to the rules ... or to fight?

Stuff happens after the inciting incident, and you want to hint at that in as vague and non-spoilery a way as possible. 

A REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT, I repeat, DO. NOT. SPOIL THINGS THAT DON'T HAPPEN TILL THE END OF THE BOOK.

LIKE.
PLEASE.
JUST. DON'T. DON'T DO IT.

If you don't have an interesting enough inciting incident to hook your readers with, you need to rethink your story and its structure. If your character gets diagnosed with cancer in the middle of the book, do not tell the readers this in an attempt to hook them. I read a book once whose blurb spoiled the Climax of Act Three, and for the whole book I was just waiting for the Thing it said would happen to happen. But ... it didn't. Until the. very. end. (Well, not the VERY end, but basically.)

The blurb is supposed to kick off with the inciting incident, and give a brief description/teaser of how the character is going to handle this and what they're going to do about it. If your character gets sick in the middle of the book, you can hint at that in the blurb. But don't tell them outright. 

PLEASE. I BEG YOU.

EHHHEM. Enough of that. #rantover
-
Tip 4: DON'T MAKE IT HARDER (or longer) THAN IT NEEDS TO BE.

Seriously. Writing a book is hard, but so is writing a book. If you can write a book, I think you can handle a blurb. ;) Don't psyche yourself up about it. Just do the Thing, and be your amazing, awesome self. After you write it, send it off to your writer pall(s) for opinions and (if needed) a critique.

Katie popping in. I recieved Hannah's permission to insert her awesome blurb. You can all "oooooh" and "ahhh" over it and see how she worked her tips in. She wants to note that this is before editing the second draft so plot things can change, but IT'S A VERY AMAZING BLURB THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO READ HER NOVEL. Which is good. ;)

THE THIEF'S CONSPIRACY BLURB:

Born and raised in captivity, slavery is all Rissa has ever known. Obeying her Owner, for fear of her brother and sister's lives, she's never dared to attempt escape. But when her deaf little sister, more a daughter to Rissa than their own treacherous mother, is sold, everything changes. Rissa has only a week to find a way to free her, before it is too late.
Aster is soon to be King, but he is less free than anyone. Trapped in a dirty game of tricks and lies in a castle where no one will leave him be, he has no idea who he can trust. He's become responsible for a land full of problems, but all he truly cares about is finding the people behind the assassination of his family.
Two worlds collide, and the two form an unexpected team. Can a slave and a prince solve the mystery of the assassinations? Together, they must combine their knowledge and skills and put everything to the test as they attempt to thwart the thief's conspiracy.
- - -

And that's it for today! Congrats if you read through this to the end. Have some coffee. *hands out big bags of coffee beans and mugs of fresh coffee*

Thanks again, Katie, for letting me blab on your lovely blog. Toodles! *waves fingers and skips away*

// hannah 

Thank you so much, Hannah! <3 I love this post -- you shared some super amazing tips and reasons! Make sure to go visit and follow Hannah's amazing blog: Ink Blots and Coffee Stains. She posts every Saturday (like meee!), and they're all worth reading.

(psst, one more reminder to go enter the giveaway for the Go Teen Writers book!)

Also, Hannah will be answering comments today, so make sure to leave her some comment love. ;)

Have you written a blurb for your novel? Is it easy for you (haaaa) or hard?

56 comments :

  1. FIRST COMMENT WOOT WOOT. :P (unless someone else comments while I'm typing this.)

    But great post Hannah! I read through it to the end. Umm... *takes coffee* thanks? XD *whispers* But I may or may not not like coffee? We're not going to go into the details here.

    Oh yes I have blurb. *pats self on back* Granted, not a super amazing blurb, but a blurb nonetheless. *glances around room nervously* Easy breezy, guys. *shifts feet* *averts eyes*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *pumps fist* HA no one else commented while I was typing.

      Delete
    2. *politely applauds your commenting skills*
      Ahhhhh yes. Jonathan. You're the sour patch kid that doesn't like coffee. *glares and yanks coffee beans back* I guess I can try to forgive you. *dramatic sigh* Just don't let Stan know and we'll be good.
      And you should work on your blurb until you feel confident in it! You have no idea how nice it was to have a blurb I was okay with. Like, I wrote this blurb (well, the essence of it) before I wrote the first draft, and then I edited it to death (somewhere during the first drafting stage) until I liked it (I am by no means claiming I have a perfect blurb, but I did spend a lot of time on this one and am actually comfortable sharing it, which is ... Unheard of for me XP ). It took a lot of time and frustration and coffee, but it is SO worth it. I really encourage you to edit it till you're happy with it!

      Delete
  2. Oh Hannah! That's a great blurb! I usually try write a blurb for all my random novels just to get the facts sorted in my head. They're kinda lame though. At least, that's how they sound to me. *Shrugs* I'm waaaaay of beta readers so I'll worry about it then if that ever happens. :P

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I spent a lot of time trying to perfect it, only to discover changes with the next draft. *sigh* but I am still grateful I took the time to write it. It was so useful and comforting to have. And don't worry about them being lame! Editing is wonderful (terrible, grueling, and hard, but it does wonders for the Thing being edited). Just work at it and try to make it like you'd read on the back of a novel in the book store :) Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  3. I wrote one.... before I actually started writing and I REALLY need to re write it because the story did not happen like that. Somehow it is nothing like the blurb anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's okay! Just write one again. It's okay that it changed. It was probably worth it to write one, even if it didn't turn out to work for the story. :D

      Delete
  4. I usually don't write blurbs but you have convinced me that I should start!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I usually do write blurbs for my novels, mostly because most of them start as NaNo/Camp NaNo novels and THERE MUST BE A BLURB/SYNOPSIS IN THE APPROPRIATE BOX. Otherwise I'm not happy. But these are excellent tips!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhhhh yes! That's great motivation to write a good one! Nano is brilliant ... XP

      Delete
  6. Hannah, you have convinced me of the power of blurbs, because now I'm really curious to read your book! It sounds super intriguing, especially because one of the main characters seems to be quite close to her siblings, and that's something I always appreciate in books. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhhhhh yes, yes she is *beams* Thank you so much! You should go write a blurb! I did dare you, after all ... ;)

      Delete
  7. This was an amazing post! I've always struggled with book blurbs, I just kind of write something temporarily to put up on my blog/NaNo websites/etc. Thanks for this post, Hannah!

    Looooove your blurb, by the way. The book sounds really good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Book blurbs are hard, but even a rough one for nano is good! Just touch it up a bit (or rewrite it, if you have to) and you'll be good to go. Having something to start with is good :D

      Delete
  8. Okay... Um how creepy is this--just as I opened my browser to take a break from writing another BLURB for my WIP, I went on to Katie's blog and checked out the latest post--and it's about BLURBS (!!!)

    Not only is this perfect timing again, but now I'm more excited to get back to writing blurbs. That's what I usually do before I even write a first draft; I write blurbs to make sure the idea interests me enough.

    Awesome post Hannah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AHHHHHHH! It must be fate XP Yesssss go go write it! Do the thing! *whispers* that really is the best time to write a blurb, in my opinion. It helps you understand the story more and if someone asks what your new project is about ... You have an easy answer!

      Delete
  9. Great post Hannah! But I have a question for you...you said that summaries and blurbs are different, but how do they vary? =)

    I followed your blog. =) I love your writing style! (and your blurb looks fascinating!)

    ~Hosanna
    HavingaHeartLikeHis.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhh thank you so much! And to answer your question, a synopsis is a blow by blow summary of your entire book, complete with spoilers. It's usually around 2 pages long and is never given to readers (at least, it's not usually ...) It's one of the things you need when submitting your book proposal :)
      Hope that answered your question!

      Delete
    2. Yes, that makes a lot of sense! =) Thank you!

      Delete
  10. I am going to write a blurb for my novel TODAY! Well... more like I'm gonna write SOME BLURBS for my NOVELS. Notice the S's at the end of Blurb, and Novel. I am piled with writing! AGHAGHAGH! *Goes crazy*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Hannah! But I'm also babysitting with my Mom, so it's really hectic right now! AGHAGHAGH! *Goes crazy somemore*

      Delete
    2. *pats* I feel you on the babysitting. You got this!

      Delete
    3. Thanks! I was actually helping out with... *counts fingers* five kids, not including my baby sister and my younger brother. *smiles weakly* *goes to take a nap*

      Delete
  11. It is so ironic. I actually wrote my novel's blurb yesterday and now today I see this post. lol. If you want to read it, here is the link: http://bethanyr4him.blogspot.com/2016/04/my-wip-pirates-tale.html

    Thanks for sharing, Hannah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I checked it out and it looks really good! Great job :) That is ironic, isn't it? XP

      Delete
  12. Ok. You've convinced me.

    *goes off to blurb*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YESSSSS! It is so worth it. DO THE THING

      Delete
  13. Great advice!<3 And nice blurb:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Clara! I hope it helped :D

      Delete
  14. THat was amazing. I needed that. I mean I have about ten pages on every book i have started but i have never gotten too far. Maybe this will help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhh yes. If you spend the time it takes to perfect a blurb, you'll probably find more motivation to finish it :) keep writing!

      Delete
  15. o.o
    O.O
    THIS. THIS POST. THIS... IS AMAZING. <3 Just... oh my goodness, so well-written and informative. *hugs post to chest*

    And I LOVE your blurb. It reads so well and is just... gah, I love it.

    I am neverrrr going to forget this post! I am pasting the link all over my computer; on virtual sticky notes, OneNote, and word documents. JUST SO MUCH LOVELY TIPS HERE.

    If I ever need to write a blurb THEN THIS POST WILL BE OPEN THE WHOLE TIME I AM WRITING IT. Wow, thanks so much! <3

    (oh, psst, I want to read your novel SO BAD. I am totally signing up for beta-reading whenever you might need it. :D)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment made me grin so big :D You're so sweet! I'm so glad it was helpful to you and that you liked it!
      (Thank you so much about my blurb! I can't wait for you to read TC!)

      Delete
  16. Ooo, lots of wonderful, writer-y tips!! :) Amazing job, Hannah!! *claps* I have such a horrid time writing blurbs (but, yes, I do have several written XD)...I'm definitely saving this for future reference. ;)

    *gasp* Wow. "The Thief's Conspiracy" sounds AMAZING!!! And guess what? I have a character named Aster too! *high five for awesome charrie names* Mines a girl, but whatever. XD

    *goes to follow your blog*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Faith! Yes, Aster is usually a girl name but I didn't realize that when I found it on a list of BOY NAMES LIKE WHAT INTERNET? But by the time I realized, it was too late. The name had already stuck XP ah well.

      Delete
  17. Ahhhh Hannah! I love it! I wanna write a better blurb for my story now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your blurb is already lovely, mother! <3

      Delete
    2. Ahhhhh thank you child you are too nice!! <3

      Delete
  18. These are fabulous tips, Hannah! Can I just say that I love the name of your blog??

    I have a question for you. If a blurb isn't a synopsis, what's the difference? I've always thought they were the same, and now I'm curious! Okay, got to go write a blurb now. ;)

    - Emily @ forthebookish.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thank you!
      Ahhhh I guess I should have taken a note of that in the post. XP A synopsis is a blow by blow summary of your entire book, complete with spoilers. It's usually around 2 pages long and is never given to readers (at least, it's not usually ...) It's one of the things you need when submitting your book proposal :)
      Hope that helps! Good luck on your blurb! <3

      Delete
  19. Okay... I'll write a blurb... if you insist...

    With my cup of tea. yum!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, I insist. In fact, I /dared/ you XP good luck!
      Ah yes, tea is always great. (So is coffee)

      Delete
  20. This was great, Hannah! Definitely helpful for when I'm ready to write my book blurb :). Thanks for the post!
    *gratefully accepts the coffee and magically changes it into hot chocolate* *drinks it all*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, Savannah, nice trick! :D *transforms coffee into hot chocolate* ;)

      Delete
    2. Thank you! *grins* ah yes. I suppose I should think of another food item to throw out as an alternative to coffee ... *sigh*

      Delete
  21. I wrote a blurb! Here it is, it's for my book 'Katy Bay'

    Katy Bay is a sixth grader conquering middle school. And if she's not going to Spring Formals or injuring herself, she's making new friends and getting new siblings. Katy Bay's exciting life takes sharp turns with something new just around the corner, but no matter what, Katy accepts change and thanks God for giving her a good life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good job! A little vague, but well written ;)

      Delete
  22. Great post! Blurbs are very handy though I need to put mine on my phone haha. Your story sounds great. ^ ^

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes, it is soooo nice to have it just right there at hand :D

      Delete
  23. Lovely job, Hannah! I knew I needed to write a blurb for my WIP and write it well, but you inspired me, so now I have a rough draft (already edited by a friend) in the works. Thanks for sharing your blurb with us! It's definitely good at hooking ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhhh I am so thrilled that this inspired you to write one! It is /so/ worth it :D

      Delete
  24. Blurbs are hard... But I like writing them. *shrugs* Maybe I'm weird. :-P My blurb for my work-in-progress is a little rough, but I like it anyways... It's a title I need...

    ReplyDelete
  25. I admire the valuable information about writing book. I will bookmark your blog and I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anywhere else! Please Visit

    ReplyDelete

don't be shy to hang out in the comment section!
make frens, check back for my replies, keep things clean, shout about pizza, squeal about books, moan about editing... all that cool stuff.