Friday, September 20, 2013


Until I had a book published, I had no idea I would be the one to write the blurbs for the book. Whether you are an author-publisher or are pubbed by a traditional house, you will be doing this crucial piece of promotional writing yourself. Often authors are wonderful storytellers and hopeless promotional writers—get help if you are the latter!

Few aspiring authors understand that there are two essential blurbs and they are totally different:
1) the back cover blurb
2) the catalogue blurb.

Each is written for a different promotional purpose and will be read by different groups of individuals.

Back cover blurb:
. Read by readers who see your book in a store, online, or in the library.
. Purpose of this blurb is to compel/convince the above readers to buy a copy.
. Essentials in 150 words include the title, who would like to read it, and a compelling description of the story or the scope and value for nonfiction.
. Blurb must convey a promise and maybe a call to action.
. Endorsements if you have them.

Catalogue blurb:

. Read by distributors and/or publishers' sales reps who pitch your book to booksellers of all types.
. Purpose is to stimulate this type of book buyer to order copies, hopefully in quantity.
. Essentials include the title, the identity of likely readers and specialized outlets, the description of the story, and a short author bio. For non fiction, a description of the subject and the benefits readers will receive.
. Quotes from reviews or endorsements if available. (Usually written by other authors within the same sub-category and experts of repute who have read the ARCs.)

Blurbs are challenging to compose and take considerable effort. I recommend running them by a freelance editor and your colleagues who are published.

Some tips to help you:
1. Start studying the back blurbs on every book you read.
2. Start browsing publishers' online catalogues that come out every spring and fall and focusing on books similar to yours.
3. Keep finessing your efforts as you revise your ms and make every word count.
4. Start getting endorsements early; they not only cheer you on your way, but also ensure you're ready to go when you need your blurbs.

There is a huge advantage to writing these blurbs yourself. Once done and done well, the words can be recycled over and over again. Here are some more promotional uses where you will employ them: 
  • Flyers, bookmarks or postcards
  • Your website
  • Amazon' author page
  • Other online profiles
  • Pitches for appearances, presentations, and other events
  • Verbally during interviews on TV and radio
  • Also at readings and book signings
  • E-interviews
  • Blog tours
You will discover many more promotional outlets for the blurbs you wrote after your first book is published. You'll be glad you took the time to write them well.