Writing

Back Cover Text, Book Blurbs, and Other Fun Stuff


Everyone assumes the hardest part of any journey to publication is finishing
that first draft, but it really just takes time, patience, coffee, therapy,
medication, etc… For me, the hardest part was trying to write a back cover
“blurb.” Yes. A paragraph was harder to write than my short story collection
Humans and Their Creations. The main issue is the daunting question, “How do I
describe all of that hard work in a single paragraph, when the work itself
contains _____+ paragraphs?”

It’s a lot harder than it looks, but with a few tips, tricks, notecards, and
some more medication, you’ll have a back cover blurb all your own… And maybe
even a few new favorite medications, but we’ll cover that another time (I don’t
condone drug use, just by the way. Drugs are bad. Don’t do them. Don’t go pilfering your grandma’s cabinet for her heart pills. Those are bad, too).

Now, here is my list of tips. Follow them, if you dare:

  • NOTECARDS ARE YOUR FRIEND
    There are no rules to how you should go about making your back cover text, but my own personal rule of thumb is that it should be no longer than a fairly small notecard. Granted, your hand-writing can make a big difference, so playing with different notecard sizes could be beneficial for you, but I push for you to go for handwritten words during this process. Even if your book was written in Word or Scrivener, I would write the drafts of my book blurb on a notecard. Size is a major factor because you can go nuts in a word document, and it’s hard to tell just how large your paragraph is. If you have a book cover designer already, I’d go ahead and ask him/her what they think the ample size is, then I don’t think it would matter too much whether you use a word document or a notecard, but your designer will thank you, regardless.
  • YOU WILL HAVE MULTIPLE DRAFTS
    Just like your book, you’ll probably have multiple drafts, and these aren’t necessarily for editing purposes. You probably will want to have multiple versions to choose from. Remember, you’re not married to the first one you write. This is a process – not too different from dating. You’re getting to know your book and its blurb, but you’re not married to any one blurb. Be comfortable with the amount of versions you may end up with. Quantity isn’t always a bad thing, especially when trying to decide which is of the best quality. Remember that.
  • HAVE BETA READERS READY TO GO
    With the length of your book blurb a lot less than the actual book, hopefully, it won’t take very long for a few blurbs to come out of the woodwork. So, have some readers ready. I’d personally go for readers who have never beta’d your book and who have no hard, emotional ties to you. You want honesty, not a couple of butt pats and a gold-star. Plus, you want them to pick up your book like they would in a book store. They know barely anything about it, except what is on that back cover and what is revealed in the cover. Have them ready, then give them your top 3 versions. Anymore and you may be diluting their focus and excitement. If there isn’t an excellent response for anyone, then pull out the next three, or go back to the drawing board.
  • MENTION YOUR MAIN CHARACTER’S NAME
    This is probably common sense, but you’d be surprised how many writer’s fail to mention their character’s name. Don’t get so caught up in the plot that you’re too busy talking about events than the character that will experience them. Your MC will be your reader’s guide, whether it be the narrator, a girl, a boy, a couple, a group, whatever. Name them. Name them in the blurb.
  • CREATE MOVEMENT IN YOUR BLURB
    Just like in your book, you want to grab and hold your reader’s attention. In this case, this may determine whether or not a reader buys your book or not, so you want it to represent your book in the best way possible. So, in approximately five sentences, you have to grab a reader. Mention your character’s name, then, without giving away too much info, put them through hell (or heaven. Depends on how your book goes). Make the reader want to see and support your character through their journey. What about your book excited you? What part had you crying along with your character? What scared your character? If it elicited an emotional response from you, it’s probably worth adding to the blurb.

These are just a couple of the many things you can do, but I think these are key to making a great back cover book description-thingy. What do you think? Anything you’d like to add? How do you create your back cover blurbs? Let me know and comment below!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

9 thoughts on “Back Cover Text, Book Blurbs, and Other Fun Stuff”

  1. Blurbs are a total ‘mare. They’re advertising copy essentially and if I wanted to write advertising copy I’d have gone into advertising. Hmm, I know a writer who used to an advertising copywriter. Wonder if she finds blurbs easier than most of us?

    One thing I’ve carried with me since the says I was writing summaries for fanfics, is the advice to only summarise about the first third of the story, and give nothing more than hints about the resolution. Gives them a good idea of the setup and the type of story it is, but doesn’t give too much away.

    And one that I’ve adopted lately is not to waste precious words on those meaningless rhetorical questions. The “Can Tom and Bill beat all their problems and gain their happiness?” type. If it’s a Romance then the answer is clearly “yes”, or it had better be. So that question is a waste of space that could be put to better use.

    Like

    1. Ah. The fanfic days. I think that helped me more than I could ever put into words.

      And great advice! The old rhetorical questions are just that, old. They’re old, redundant, over-used, and obvious. Almost every time one is asked, the reader can clearly state, “Of course.”

      Readers should be kept in suspense, and asking questions like that makes it seem like your book is predictable. Though, that is just my opinion.

      Like

  2. I read this post the other day. Timing was perfect as I needed to redraft some blurbs and write some new ones for a book coming out next week. So I went to blurbing and yikes, made my self crazy. I came back today to reread your advice. Off to blurbing again. Thanks for the help. I hope to return it sometime.
    Elldee

    Like

Start a Discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s