Once the cover catches the potential reader’s eye they check the blurb on the back cover of the book. I do. And in the first sentence or two I have to be hooked or I’m off to check out another book.
Tricky. Tricky for the reader looking for that next escape into a story, tricky for the author and publisher trying to promote their book.
The word “blurb” seems quite modern but apparently it derives from back in the early 1900’s. An American writer by the name of Gelet Burgess wrote a comic book to be given away at a book festival. On the cover he featured a Miss Belinda Blurb as a spoof, mocking the type of cover design popular with publishers of serious novels at the time. A marketing ploy, the name Blurb caught the attention of the press who asked what it meant. Burgess apparently said it described ‘self praise and making a noise like a publisher’.
Belinda Blurb, queen of promotion.
Without the blurb how do we know, at a glance, what a book is about?
What constitutes a good blurb? It’s more than a brief description. The opening must be precise and captivating. Who and what is this story about? Sounds simple until you have to write one. Try creating an opening blurb line for ‘Robinson Crusoe’. Robinson Crusoe a headstrong young man In the year … or Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk …. or … Robinson Crusoe survived the shipwreck only to find himself on a deserted island…
We want to hear more, but then there’s the question of how much more ? What is the hook? Will he find a way off the island? How will he endure the loneliness?
A good blurb entices the reader further by ensuring this is the book they are looking for. A story of adventure, of human determination and ingenuity.
The final shove towards the till or that BUY button is to compare your book to one that already sells millions. If you enjoyed Treasure Island then this book is for you. Or words to that effect, without being patronising, or sounding like a second hand car dealer. This is difficult.
Get it right and it can increase book sales. I’m no expert, but I suggest checking out people who are if you are an author and especially if you self-publish.
The blurb, not just a load of blah blah blah.