Lucy Brazier stops by to
vent shed light on why writing a blurb for your book is such a hard task.
I’m not going to tell you that writing a book is easy; no one’s going to tell you that.
Writing a book is time consuming, mentally and emotionally draining and plays havoc with all aspects of your normal life. But once it’s done – once those magic words ‘The End’ are typed after revision after revision, draft after draft – it feels like you have climbed an insurmountable peak and nothing can ever seem impossible ever again.
Until you come to write the blurb.
What Is The Blurb?
This is the wordy bit that goes on the back of the book and serves as a means to tempt potential readers to pick it up and turn to the first page.
“Some are longer than others and the level of detail in blurbs varies.
But the aim is the same – to sell your story to the casual punter.”
– Lucy Brazier
Note: This is not a synopsis. A synopsis is similar, but has a different audience. The synopsis is for the purpose of selling your story to an agent or publisher, someone in the industry. Same purpose, different audience. A synopsis will have to follow a fairly rigid set of rules to pass muster, whereas the remit for a blurb tends to be a bit sketchy.
Why Is It So Hard To Write?
Honest answer? I really don’t know. It defies the realms of logic. You’ve just spent months – maybe even years – carefully crafting your manuscript. You know it inside out and back to front. You know the characters as if you had given birth to them yourself.
“So why is condensing your masterpiece into a tantalising teaser so difficult?
Personally, I think it is because the author has become so close to the work, it’s difficult to separate out the essence of the book.“
– Lucy Brazier
In short, you’ve forgotten what it’s actually about.
What To Do?
Well, you could always enlist the help of a good authorly friend to write it for you. That’s an option. But as most authors hate writing blurbs for their own books, let alone anyone else’s, the reply to your request may not be polite. I really am no expert at this, all I can do is tell you how I do it.
Firstly, give yourself a bit of breathing space from the book, for a start.
I suggest an evening off with a large glass of wine
or whatever tickles your fancy. Then, once you’re over the hangover (by the way – top editing tip: when you think your novel is finished and polished beyond compare, read the whole thing through with a massive hangover. If you still love it in that state, it’s probably quite good.) make a list of the most important and interesting parts of your book. What are the main challenges faced by your protagonist? What are the supporting cast getting up to? What are the big twists and turning points? Where is the drama coming from? When writing the blurb for my latest novel, my list looked like this…
Your list may well be considerably longer than this. That’s okay. We don’t need to squeeze each and every aspect into the blurb.
“I tend to prefer a short, punchy blurb, but then my books lend themselves to this particular style.
Your story may be more complex and involved and therefore benefit from a longer explanation.”
I would advise against sticking a complete essay on the back of your beloved tome, though. Too much text (and too small) can be off-putting to some and, whilst you are totally in love with your story, the person browsing the shelves may not be ready to invest quite that much time in it just yet.
Look at your list. No doubt there will be some really important things on there that are vital to your story. But what are the things that sound the most exciting? Where are the hooks?
Identify the bits about your story that will really interest the reader
not necessarily the things that are most important to you, the author.
Then, all you have to do is string them altogether and there you go! Yeah. Still easier said than done. Ideally, you want the blurb to reflect the feel and style of the book itself. My stories are light-hearted, irreverent and humorous (one hopes, at least) so the blurb reflects this. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the reader knows what they’re in for right from the off.
“In the end they may not like the book, but they haven’t been hoodwinked into picking up something they thought was something else.“
– Lucy Brazier
Make sure your writer’s voice – the one that you have worked on and developed and shines through in your manuscript – continues to flow through onto the back cover. That is very important.
From my initial list, this is what I came up with for the blurb of PorterGirl – Sinister Dexter, the third book in my series…
At the time of writing this isn’t the final version of the blurb as the book is currently going through its final polishing stages with the publisher, so we will probably end up with something that looks considerably slicker than this. But you get the general idea. It’s all a work in progress. Hopefully this has demystified some of the aspects of the dreaded book blurb and will help you get started, at least.
Gang, what’s important is to find a blurb writing method that works for you.
This was Lucy’s; other authors use different means to get their blurb completed.
To see other posts we’ve done on blurbs, type “blurb” in the search box and read away.