10 Practical Tips for Writing a Book Blurb That Sells
As much as book covers catch readers’ attention, blurbs grip shoppers and convince them to buy books. That’s why you want to write a book blurb that sells. With ebooks, in particular, they are absolutely essential to increase your ebook sales.
Sometimes coming up with the right words for a book blurb can be more stressful than writing the ebook itself. But don’t worry; in this article, we’ll walk you through the important points to keep in mind while writing your book’s blurb, as well as give you a simple blurb template and some bestseller examples for different genres.
In this article:
- Tip #1: Know Your Genre
- Tip #2: Give Readers What They Need
- Tip #3: Start with a Hook
- Tip #4: Don’t Summarize; Entice
- Tip #5: Respect the Book Blurb Word Count
- Tip #6: Avoid Clichés
- Tip #7: Write in Third Person
- Tip #8: Appeal to Readers’ Emotions
- Tip #9: Follow This Book Blurb Template
- Tip #10: Write More Than One Blurb
What Is a Book Blurb?
Blurbs are a brief description of a book typically found on the back cover or within the book sleeve of a hardcover book. For ebooks, the description is posted on a book’s purchasing page, along with the book cover and price. The book blurb’s main purpose is to lure readers in and captivate them enough to buy the book. It is often referred to as a synopsis or simply a book description.
How to Write a Book Blurb
While it might seem complicated, the process of writing a book blurb can be pretty simple. Here are the top ten tips we believe to be the most essential to crafting a book blurb that sells.
1. Know Your Genre
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to writing book blurbs is that every genre is different. The content and style vary depending on the type of book you’re describing.
The best way to get a clear idea of your genre’s best practices is to run a quick book description search within your genre to see what others have written. Note the popularity of the books as you search.
Using techniques that are typical of one category for another category might only confuse book shoppers. Bullet points that work well in business book descriptions won’t compel readers to read a romantic novel. Likewise, the intrigue, suspense, and hints at plot twists used in fiction book blurbs will not assure those looking for self-help books that your book holds the solutions to their problems. Children’s book descriptions and poetry book descriptions are whole other fields.
Before you begin, do some research and check the blurbs of bestselling books for your category.
2. Give Readers What They Want
People don’t go out in search of a book with no purpose in mind. Whether it’s for entertainment or to learn more about a specific topic, there’s always a reason.
Your job is to figure out what these reasons or motivations are and highlight how your ebook will fulfill the needs of your target readers. You’ve probably done this research before you started writing the book; now it’s time to check that list again.
Say you’re a gym trainer who wants to make money by selling your expertise in ebook form to those who can’t go to the gym. You need to figure out what those people truly want. For example, is it weight loss tips? Is it muscle gain? Whatever it is, mention how your book will help them achieve their goals. Whether your ebook provides training techniques and nutrition advice to lose weight in no time or get ripped fast, tell them now that it’s in your book. Otherwise, they may never know.
“Go after the job you want–and get it!How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Take the job you have–and improve it!
Take any situation–and make it work for you!”
Did you know Dale Carnegie’s book was originally published in the 1930s? But with those first lines, the book blurb, and the book itself, resonate with readers and make it feel just as relevant today as it was seventy-five years ago.
3. Start With a Hook
Hook your target readers into the blurb. If your first sentence is dull or not interesting enough, they won’t read the rest of the blurb, and they probably won’t buy the book either.
Start with something dramatic, or something that establishes your expertise. You want to pick your book blurb words carefully to make people want to read the rest of it.
“WARNING: Do Not Read This Book If You Hate Money.”The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, and Stand Out From The Crowd by Allan Dib
4. Don’t Summarize; Entice
The blurb is not meant to be a summary of your book. That can be both boring and a spoiler. Remember that the main purpose of the blurb is to highlight the reasons why your readers should be reading your book right now rather than all that they can find inside the book.
Saying no spoilers seems a bit obvious, but here’s where things get a little tricky. You want to tell readers enough about your plot for fiction, or lessons for nonfiction, such that they’ll want to know more. But don’t give up your secrets and all the fun stuff.
Rather than telling them what’s inside your ebook in details that deem the book useless in the end, you can hint at all the possible gems they can find in the book that will make it hard for them to resist buying it. Teasing and temptation are your keys here.
5. Aim For 150 Words
You want to keep your book blurb to approximately a 150-word paragraph. For ebooks and print books alike, try to stick to 100 – 200 words.
Here are some bestselling books and their blurbs’ word count.
|Category||Title and Author||Word Count|
|Children’s Stories||Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride: and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier||79 words|
|Crime Thriller||The Reckoning by John Grisham||152 words|
|Historical Fiction||Sold on a Monday: A Novel |
By Kristina McMorris
|High Fantasy||The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon||150 words|
|Astrophysics||Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson||169 words|
|Psychology||Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher||194 words|
|Sociology||White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo||108 words|
|Children’s Nonfiction||Bach to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger||128 words|
Some writers are so eager to convince readers that their book is the be-all and end-all, that they might go a little overboard with the blurb. However, a person’s general attention span and the time they’re willing to spare reading that blurb are limited. So keep it short, sweet, and–more importantly–to the point.
6. Avoid Clichés and Cheesy Lines
As witty as some expressions and idioms may seem, let’s face it, a lot of them are overused and the only response they elicit is an eye roll. That’s why it’s better to steer away from the ones that are worn out if you want a blurb that stays fresh for years.
7. Write in the Third Person
Writing in the 3rd person is an industry standard and quite easy to implement. Some writers will ask, “What if it’s my travel memoirs, or success story, or even a full autobiography?” The answer is still a resounding, “Even so, in the third person.”
“Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.”Educated by Tara Westover
8. Appeal to Your Readers’ Emotions
That may seem obvious for novels, but what of works of nonfiction? Surely this is a place where the methods of ethos and logos win over pathos. Well, although establishing your credibility and logically convincing your readers are both valuable and possibly necessary, what drives buyers to buy is ultimately emotions. According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious. Most subconscious factors are in fact emotional.
What we mentioned earlier, with regard to fulfilling your readers’ needs, once again applies here. This time, we’re focusing on their emotional needs.
Most of us read works of fiction to get lost in another world, so give your readers a world to get lost in. If they lack excitement, give them action and suspense. If they lack romance, give them intrigue and passion.
We read self-help books to help us get past problems in our lives, so show us that you know how to get us out of our ruts. Let us feel that you understand where we are, and give us hope that things will get better.
9. Use This Book Blurb Template
Treat your book blurb like a plot. The old plot diagram you studied in school, the same one in every feature film, is the rhythm we as consumers have grown accustomed to and the one we find most satisfying. So there’s no need to go searching for another. We’ll go through a simplified version here.
- Exposition: Set the tone. Introduce the characters and the setting but in just one or two sentences.
For non-fiction, the main character may be the expert author, so you establish your expertise. Perhaps, the focus is the readers, then who are your readers? Overwhelmed parents? Struggling managers? Start by letting them know that this book is about them and for them.
- Conflict and Climax: If there were no problems, then it wouldn’t be life now would it? And there wouldn’t be a need for any books. Some conflicts are internal—like making personal decisions or healing emotional scars—while others are external—like dealing with difficult situations or getting past obstacles. For fiction, you’ll simply tell how the plot thickens with the seemingly unsolvable conflicts in your novel.
For nonfiction, you’ll describe or list a couple of problems or pain points that your readers are stuck in and need your book to solve. Here is where you make your readers feel that your book is relatable and where they feel emotionally invested.
- Resolution: You’ve made your reader uncomfortable with the conflict, now give them relief. So in your book description, you resolve the rising tension your shoppers felt as they read the beginning of your blurb and the conflicts therein, by giving them hope that the solutions are in your book. The resolution, the sense of satisfaction, comes with buying the book.
For fiction, promise your readers to transport them into the story where they’ll learn firsthand how the story unfolds. You may mention possible scenarios to further lure your readers in. Ultimately, your readers will satisfy their curiosity when they buy your novel.
For non-fiction, go all out here. List some of the ways–use bullet points if you like–that makes your book the lost key to achieving your readers’ goals. The caveat here is to not spell everything out for them, simply let them know that this book is what they’ve been looking for. And if they buy it, they will be happy and content.
There you have it: the most basic yet most successful template.
10. Write More Than One Book Blurb
When you’re done writing the blurb, write another one. Blurbs are short. If you’re in the right mood, you can quickly churn a couple of samples with vastly different tones or even content. Show friends and fans two versions of your blurb and get some feedback.
Book Blurb Examples
Here are some of our favorite examples of fiction and non-fiction books. You’ll find the word count and a little bit about why we like these blurbs.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
Word count 156 words
Why this blurb works: The blurb showcases a sense of mystery and intrigue that works as a great hook to leave readers wanting to learn more. Notice the plot diagram at work, as the blurb begins with the exposition telling us about the characters and the setting. Then the rising conflicts follow. By the end, the author has the readers feel as if they are in the middle of this battle for revenge. And finally, he leaves us with a cliffhanger and only one possible resolution: to buy the book.
YOU ARE A BADASS IS THE SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PEOPLE WHO DESPERATELY WANT TO IMPROVE THEIR LIVES BUT DON’T WANT TO GET BUSTED DOING IT.
In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before.
By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.
Word Count 139 words
Why this blurb works: Not only does this blurb have a hooking first line, but its entire content is enticing for the reader, making us decidedly interested in reading the rest. It starts by establishing the author’s expertise and the irresistibility of the book itself. The author does not dwell on the negative problems in our lives but rather barrages the reader with positivity and a feeling of empowerment that can only be attained through her book. Again, we see exposition, conflict, and resolution at play beautifully and energetically, without giving away any of her secrets.
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
Word Count 297
Why this blurb works: Heart-warming in the end, heart-wrenching in the middle, and mind-boggling in the beginning, this blurb takes us on an emotional and intellectual journey like no other. This is an extraordinary example of a book blurb that appeals to readers’ emotions. As you read through it, you start to feel for Trevor through his life’s journey, which in turn has you interested in learning more about him. His words eclipse anything we can try to say at this point, like pointing out that it’s written in the third person. He leaves us stunned and eager to dive into the story of his life, his mother’s, and the harrowing circumstances that engulfed them.
Today, the ketogenic diet is the world’s fastest growing diet, and with good reason. When practiced correctly, it has been proven to burn fat, reduce inflammation, fight cancer, balance hormones and gut bacteria, improve neurological diseases, and even increase lifespan. Unfortunately, many people remain unaware of several key factors that are crucial to the diet’s success, setting them up for frustration, failure, and relapse.
In Keto Diet, bestselling author Dr. Josh Axe sets the record straight, offering thorough, step-by-step guidance to achieving lifelong health. Unlike other books on the subject, Keto Diet identifies and details five different ketogenic protocols and explains why picking the right one for your body and lifestyle is fundamental to your success.
Inside, you’ll find all the tools they need to say goodbye to stubborn fat and chronic disease once and for all, including:
- shopping lists
- delicious recipes
- exercise routines
- accessible explanations of the science behind keto’s powerful effects
- five different keto plans and a guide to choosing the one that fits you best!
Word Count 188 words
Why this blurb works: The blurb finds a way to appeal to almost anyone. It starts with the exposition, establishing expertise and success. Then provides the conflict in the form of a listing of diseases that the book will help us escape. With a list that long, the author is bound to catch just about everyone. Finally, we find the resolution as the blurb promises to offer the reader all kinds of help, from an explanation of what the Keto diet is, to shopping lists, recipes, exercise routines, and plans to suit your needs. This blurb presents the book as a solve-all book with the expertise and tools to guarantee you success.
“I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”
Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.
In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.
Word count 159 words
Why this blurb works: This book is surely an enticing read for women who feel they’re either oppressed, constantly harassed, or merely can’t speak up. Hollis begins by focusing on the key character: the embarrassed and shy women who lack self-confidence. The conflict here is an internal conflict of many struggling women. She then gives the readers faith that she can help them and shows them the light at the end of the tunnel, which can only be attained by reading her book.
You CAN take control of your money. Build up your money muscles with America’s favorite finance coach.
Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There’s one sure way to whip your finances into shape, and that’s with The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition.
By now, you’ve heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket. Hey, if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, take a look at this—it’s the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies. With The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition, you’ll be able to:
- Design a sure-fire plan for paying off all debt—meaning cars, houses, everything
- Recognize the 10 most dangerous money myths (these will kill you)
- Secure a big, fat nest egg for emergencies and retirement!
Includes new, expanded “Dave Rants” sidebars tackle marriage conflict, college debt, and more. All-new forms and back-of-the-book resources to make Total Money Makeover a reality.
Word Count 212
Why this blurb works: This blurb is a good example of giving the readers what they want to read. People want to learn how to make more money, and so this ebook promises to not only help with that but to teach them mistakes and clarify a few misapprehensions they’ve been under. The organization is the same once again. We’d like to highlight how the Author, Dave Ramsey, makes his book stand out from the crowd with his outlandish metaphors and puns, making his potentially overwhelming topic of finances as simple and familiar as eating right and getting fit.
Writing a good ebook blurb can be easy once you get the hang of these ten tips. Go ahead and start collecting your favorite blurbs, then try writing a bunch of sample ones. Once you’ve started, it’s not nearly as intimidating as it may have seemed at first. So what’s stopping you from coming up with yours right now?