About Writers, book promotion, book sales, Uncategorized, writing technique


We writers are the pioneers in this brave new world of book marketing. It is our task to boldly go where few authors have gone before. Finding what works for us is often intuitive, so it helps to ask others what they think. What do you think of the following insight from a fellow author about book blurbs?

Book Blurb
“The blurb should draw you into the story, not tell you all about the story.”

Example: (my current blurb)
The Phoenix Diary
Legends speak of a mysterious and powerful record that might be a formula for free energy to rebuild the lost civilization or an ancient tome written by a man from the stars telling of mankind’s true beginning and ultimate destiny. Now three teens – Otero, Rhia, and Marc – set out to find the Phoenix Diary with the help of hints from their own genetic memories. But a mysterious man pursues them relentlessly through the ruins of Denver and into an ancient vault in the Rocky Mountains; he knows the Phoenix Diary is everything the legends say and more. It is humanity’s past, present, and future.

Example: (Proposed revision. Is it better?)
The Phoenix Diary
Can genetic memories guide three teens to a tome written by a man from the stars buried in an ancient Rocky Mountain vault? Does it really tell of humanity’s past, present, and future? Only the warrior pursuing them knows.

Example: (Your Best)
Let’s see your best book blurb!


25 thoughts on “BOOK BLURBS

  1. This is what I’m working on for Beneath Ember Skies. It’s not done yet, but it’s roughed out:

    Twenty-year-old Ray Sanderson has never lived underground or fought to survive. Until recently, he was studying to become a robotics engineer. Now he lives with his mother and faces a bleak future as a library clerk. But everyone’s future becomes just as gloomy when a coronal mass ejection hits Earth.

    With the power grid decimated and most of the world’s nuclear reactors running on generators, everyone is driven underground by the impeding fallout. But humanity’s trials have only just begun. A fraction of the population becomes increasingly psychotic, but no one knows why. Will Ray learn the truth before it’s too late for humanity?

    There are 9 core characters in BES, but I only talk about Ray in my blurb because his POV is the most dominant.

    Who tells the bulk of the tale? It’d be nice to see some hints about that character in your blurb. I’d like to see something in between the original and your proposed revision in terms of length – ideally one that elaborates a bit more on one character. Namely, is he or she someone I want to get to know? I think the rhetorical questions you have in your revision would work well for the end of your blurb as an invitation to read more. I think you need a shorter hook (first sentence) to initiate your reader. The mysterious man is a nice twist – he needs to stay.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    Right off the bat, I don’t have a feel for what this is. Is it a YA quest, which would inevitably involve a large dose of self-discovery? Three teens, going on intuition, seek the secret of humanity’s past, present, and future after (I imagine) some sort of collapse of civilization.

    Am I on the right track?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. GD: The Author Society (http://authorsociety.com/17-tips-how-write-blurb-sells ) tells us:

    Most fiction book blurbs start with a situation (a), introduce a problem (b) and promise a twist (c). They usually end with a sentence that emphasizes the mood (d) of the story.

    Bearing in mind that you know your novel a hell of a lot better than I do, how ’bout something like:

    (a) Otero, Rhia and Marc survived the apocalypse. [Or “. . . were born x centuries after a doomsday that hurled man back to _______________.”]

    (b) That was only the beginning of their problems. Driven into the ____________ by ____________________,

    (c) and pursued by [hate the vague phrase “mysterious man”. Give him a nickname! Use it in the blurb. Something like Stephen King’s “The Dark Man” in The Stand]) Puddin’ Head or Granite Face or Iron Lips or Baron Indigo or Mr. Thin or Dr. Chaos or Ripple Snot or Thunder Farts [you get the idea!] who intends to ____________, the hunted teenaged trio find themselves in a desperate race to recover the legendary Phoenix Diary, a tome believed by many to record man’s ultimate destiny and point the way to the stars.

    (d) But time is fast running out. In league with Mr. Chitin, dark forces have arisen to contest ownership of the storied tome. And if the Phoenix Diary isn’t recovered before ___________, Otero, Rhia and Marc may very well discover that their failure is the final failure: the end of the Age of Man.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mimispeike says:

      Carl has hit it. What I’m missing in this blurb is the mood of the piece, which would be a huge factor in my decision to read it or not.

      For instance: is the tale told with psychological depth, or is it all events, a lowest-common-denominator approach? The latter does not interest me, the former does.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. It would be fun, wouldn’t it? I’d love to sit down one day and drink a brew with all ya’ll! In the meantime: this is our writers cafe! (And please note: we have lasted–I’m counting from our halcyon Book Country days–longer than any physical-location writers group I’ve ever been a part of.)


    PS. Just Googled this to check my eschewing of the possessive apostrophe in the above post: http://peevishpen.blogspot.com/2007/06/writers-writers-or-writers.html

    Writers, Writer’s, or Writers’?
    (Warning: Educational content follows. If you were expecting a post about suicide buzzards or out-of-control rednecks or even the doings of a border collie, you might want to skip this entry.)

    A member of Rocky Mount Writers wanted to know how to refer to the group: Should she use writers group, writer’s group, or writers’ group? Her question awakened my dormant inner English teacher.

    My conclusion, based upon both Googling and referencing certain books that I own: It depends upon your meaning.

    A group BELONGING TO (owned by) several writers can be a writers’ group.

    Ex. Ethel, Lucy, Annabelle Lee, Miss Kitty, and Aurora attend their writers’ group every Tuesday unless they can find something better to do.

    A group COMPOSED of several writers is a writers group—no apostrophe. This is now the preferred form. The writers don’t actually own the group. “Writers group” is a label, not a possessive. (reference: Bill Walsh, Lapsing Into a Comma, p. 73)

    I belong to more than one writers group. One could argue that writers in this context is an adjective that tells what kind of group.

    The Chicago Manual of Style backs up the no-apostrophe use. At a recent Lake Writers meeting (no apostrophe: a meeting composed of the Lake Writers), our fearless leader brought in his Chicago Manual of Style and showed us that the apostrophe-free form was acceptable. Since I—regrettably—don’t own The Chicago Manual of Style, I can’t quote word for word why this form is acceptable, but it is. Trust me; it’s somewhere in The Chicago Manual.

    The trend in the English language is to make things simpler. (Remember all those periods that used to be in many abbreviations but no longer are?)

    I rummaged around and found my 1995 edition of The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. On page 256, I found this:

    DESCRIPTIVE PHRASES: Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, Teamsters request, a writers guide.

    So, writers group can be a descriptive phrase. The AP Stylebook continues:

    Memory Aid: The apostrophe usually is not used if for or by rather than of would be appropriate in the longer form: a radio band for citizens, a college for teachers, a guide for writers, a request by the Teamsters.

    A group for writers? A writers group!

    Liked by 4 people

      • I included this because you’ve often expressed a desire that we build up a kind of “writers toolbox” on the site. One way of doing this might be to cross-post a brief paragraph(s) on any topic involving grammar, syntax or technique we ourselves felt the need to double-check before posting. (A kind of build-as-you-go approach. . . .)

        Liked by 2 people

        • GD Deckard says:

          Ha! Yeh, I did acquire the domain name, WritersWiki.com. But that, like an on-site toolbox, requires human intervention to make it happen.

          I don’t know WordPress well enough to know if an automated index is a feature or not. That may serve as an on-site toolbox. I use the search feature to find things here.

          One possibility that just struck me is to use Google Advanced Search. It can be set it to find specific subjects on a specific website.

          Liked by 1 person

          • GD Deckard says:

            “In linguistics, nominalization or nominalisation is the use of a word which is not a noun (e.g. a verb, an adjective or an adverb) as a noun, or as the head of a noun phrase, with or without morphological transformation.”

            “In writing?
            These vague nouns contain within them a hidden verb (“analyze” or “solve”); the process of turning a word from a verb into a noun is called “nominalization.” Don’t nominalize. People tend to think writing is more clear and direct when it relies on verbs rather than abstract nouns formed from verbs.”

            Funny, Kris 😜!

            But, I gotta ask… Is “nominalization” a nominalisation?

            Liked by 1 person

            • I love that nominalization is itself a nominalization. I hate it because it’s needlessly wordy and invites passive voice – e.g., “The washing of the clothes was done by Karen.” (9 words) An active, non-nominalized expression would work better: “Karen washed the clothes.” (4 words)

              Sorry, just saw the last part — Nominalization=US; Nominalisation=UK and Canada (methinks)

              Liked by 1 person

  5. One bit of blurb advice I’ve noted (but have yet to act on) is to keep it short enough for readers not to need to click on ‘more’ on the Amazon page to read it all. That’s short. But the average reader’s online attention span these days is even shorter, and any extra click that can be avoided should be.

    Liked by 3 people

    • atthysgage says:

      Yeah, that is short, like between 100 and 120 words. Of course the established wisdom says if you can’t grab them with the first sentence, they probably won’t keep reading anyway, so it doesn’t matter how long it is. Attention span is a joke. Attention speck is more like it.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Based on Kris’ suggestion, I came up with this sample:

    Can genetic memories guide Otero and his friends to a tome written by a man from the stars buried in an ancient Rocky Mountain vault? Legends speak of a mysterious and powerful formula for free energy in the Phoenix Diary. A mysterious man persues them relentlessly; he knows the Phoenix Diary is everything the legends say and more. Can the teens find this formula in time to rebuilt the lost civilization?

    Just a thought!

    Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks Gary, I just saw your comment. I’ve had my share of being helped by a really good “blurber”! Glad to hear that you can carry on with reaching your 100%. Saw your end results and your new choice of words is so much more attractive!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. While I have never blurbed a book, I have blurbed my posts (writing what WP calls an “excerpt”) and my research papers (writing what journals call an “abstract”).  It seems to be roughly the same problem (with different length constraints) all around.

    One thing I have found helpful is to start blurbing before putting the final touches on the work itself.  Sometimes I like what I say in the blurb well enough to squeeze something like it into the work.  Sometimes the blurb helps me shrink a work that is longer than I want.  Something that does not support the claims in the blurb may be a good candidate for deletion (perhaps saved for future use, if I still I think it is worth saying).

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Makes sense to me, keeping a synopsis in mind while writing & using that as a basis for describing what you’ve written. Marketing-types tell me the “blurb” must sell the reader on looking closer at the book & they have a point. But I usually err on accuracy over selling.

      Hey 🙂 MC, I looked at your website. Could I interest you in writing a post for the Writers Co-op? If so, email it to me, Gary (at) Deckard (dot) com

      Liked by 2 people

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