How to Write the Perfect Book Blurb

The age-old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, sadly, just isn’t true. Your book cover and crucially your blurb will help readers decide whether to purchase your book or leave it on the shelf.
The main purpose of a book cover blurb is to grab the attention of your reader and invite them to read on. Fail to do this and all those months - even years - of writing may be in vain. The age-old adage, "don’t judge a book by its cover", sadly, just isn’t true. Your book cover design, and crucially your blurb, will help readers decide whether to purchase your book or leave it on the shelf, so it’s incredibly important to get it right.

Here at SilverWood Books we understand this is easier said than done so here are our top tips for writing the perfect blurb for your book...

A great place to start is your own bookshelf:

Identify books which are similar in genre to yours and consider what makes you want to read it; how it captures what the book is about; whether the tone is fitting and whether any techniques are used that you think could work for you.

You’ll probably notice that despite the genre, or whether the books are fiction or non-fiction, a 'good’ blurb sets the tone without describing the contents in great detail.

As an author it can be very difficult to view your finished manuscript as a commercial product especially after the endless hours of work, research and even love you’ve poured into it. However, it’s vital to remember that your readers won’t necessarily love your book for the same reasons you do and the blurb should not act as a justification for all the work you’ve put in. Do try to stand back from your work and think about how you can express the essence of your book in a concise and interesting manner whilst avoiding giving too much away.

Your potential audience might be reading your blurb in a very busy shop on a Saturday afternoon, or they might have come across the description online by chance. Either way, bear in mind readers are unlikely to take the time to read lengthy copy. A good blurb should be brief but also exciting. There is no exact word limit but 250 words is an absolute maximum - any more and the back cover of your book will start to look wordy and uninviting.

We love this blurb for The Man on the Mantelpiece by SilverWood author Janet Denny:

On the first day of World War Two Jim begins a diary. An ardent eighteen-year-old pacifist, nothing will
persuade him to fight.

Seventy years later his daughter discovers his writing. After a month the entries cease until, two years
later, he begins again. Now he is a married man and has volunteered for RAF Bomber Command. Janet
has a mystery to solve. Why did he change his mind? What happened to the man she has only known
as the young hero in his photo on the mantelpiece?

Following in his footsteps throughout his training and first bombing raid, Janet compares the diaries with
her own impressions of life then and now. In the twenty-first century when Jim’s generation is all but gone,
she traces her father’s struggle and finds the reason she never knew him...

The present tense, and focus on the solving of a mystery ensure this blurb piques interest.

Characteristics of blurbs do vary between genres:

For example, with Science Fiction the setting is important, whereas a Romance would concentrate more on the two central characters. Consequently, it is important to define your genre and the likely book category before you begin writing. The main principles, however, remain the same, and here are some pointers to help you:

  • Entice the reader with a brief outline of the plot, but don’t give too much away.
  • Use evocative and emotive language to encapsulate the tone of the book and express the genre i.e 'danger’ and 'intrigue’ would be suitable for a thriller.
  • No matter what tense your book is written, it is standard practise to write in the present tense as this creates a sense of urgency and places the reader within the action.

We’d also recommend you avoid the following:

  • Summarising the plot.
  • Using first person pronouns.
  • Switching tense.
  • Telling the reader why you wrote the book and what you find interesting about the subject matter.
  • Including lots of adverbs or cliches.

With these points in mind, we hope you’ll be able to step back, visualise your book as a marketable product, and identify the key themes you want to highlight to help sell your book.

Happy writing!

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Want to know more...?

SilverWood is experienced at editing and refining book blurbs. If you’d like us to help you, or you’d like to know more about publishing with SilverWood Books, please email us.

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“If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I hope you don't go at it alone. With a team like SilverWood behind you, you have the support you need to publish the best work you believe in.”

J A Higgins