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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Writing Book Blurb is HARD!

Y'know, as far as I'm concerned it's not the writing of the novel/novella/short story that's the hard bit. That part is perfectly natural as far as my brain is concerned, no it's what comes next that is difficult.

If you go the traditional publishing route, you don't have to worry about this part, but, at the moment, I am attempting to write the book blurb for my new novel (Cat's Confidence - The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman Book #3).

It sounds like it should be easy, doesn't it? A couple of paragraphs about the book; no problem right?


See what I'm actually trying to do is this:

  • condense a 96k novel into a couple of paragraphs
  • without giving away too many plot details
  • while providing enough information to hook a reader 
  • and making sure the emphasis is not on the wrong things
  • [Edit] and one I forgot that my friend Lizzy on Twitter mentioned - loading it up with keywords for SEO (search engine optimisation)
The only reason I can ever do this is because I have a wonderful husband who reads my books and then helps me write a blurb that would make him want to read it.

So I come up with what I think is a good blurb and he reads it over my shoulder while making faces and telling me which bits suck. I honestly couldn't do it without him. He's much better at it than I am and I think that might be because he has a terrible memory for fiction. Hence, when he reads he usually only remembers the important bits, where as I have everything running around in my head and often can't focus on just the exciting parts.

I went on a self-pub course a couple of years ago and even the professionals at HarperCollins admitted it's a deep and mysterious art. They have people employed specifically for doing just that, but we self-pubs have to manage it ourselves. Although I suppose there must be people out there who will do it for you for a fee.

A blurb can make or break a book too. Even if you have the most wonderful cover and your books is edited beautifully, if the blurb is bad it can frighten away your readers. I've been on a horror kick lately and have been downloading a lot of free and low price horror books to fill my craving. Some I saw but did not obtain had the loveliest covers, but the blurb either didn't tell me enough or didn't make sense or didn't grab me or had mistakes in it.

It's almost as hard as writing a synopsis when submitting a manuscript. Of course it would be too easy if they were the same skill, but they actually require a different mindset because you're not trying to hide the ending in a submission.

Thank you for listening to me whine, I'd love to chat if you have your own blurb horror stories, whether from reading them or trying to write them.


  1. Ach!! Condensing down 90k words into 100 is a nightmare. The other thing that's difficult is explaining your book in one sentence, so that when someone asks you what it's about, you don't bore them for half an hour trying to get your point across...All good fun though. Good luck :)

    1. Oh totally - the one line pitch. I haven't tried that with this novel yet, I'm waiting until I'm over the pain of doing the blurb first :).

  2. Writing the blurb is proving to be harder than writing the novel - I'm stuck!

    1. It really is hard isn't it. Do you have someone to bounce the ideas off of - I find that to be the most useful? Good luck.


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