Monday, March 30, 2015

Part One: What is the job of the blurb? Blurb writing 101 for self published authors.

I re-branded my Gateway Trilogy earlier this year.  It was a transition that took about six months to complete.  Editing, New Titles, New covers, New Blurbs; the works.  Most of this re-branding was work I paid someone else to do.  The blurb however I did on my own.  I spent almost an entire month working on three blurbs.  This involved dozens of rewrites, hours of research and weeks of bouncing the results off of other Authors and volunteers for feedback.

Today I want to explore the blurb writing process and my goal is to condense down what took me a lot of time to understand in my own effort to pay it forward for all the help I received.

First question:  What is the blurb?
This is an easy answer to a question that every author seems to know, but in reality don't understand at all.  When you upload a book to Amazon, Amazon calls it the "description" and asks you to describe your book.  They then recommend that you look on the back cover of other books for examples.

If you're like me, the first book I picked up off of my shelf, the back cover had no description.  It was covered in truncated quotes by people and marketers that what lay inside was "stunning",  "author name does it again".  A couple of books later I found one that had a description.  It wasn't very good so I kept looking until I had about six books with decent descriptions.

I tried following some of the styles, but each blurb I came up with for my own books just looked crappy.  A few self-help web pages later and I started to develop a theory about blurb writing.  This stems from an earlier concept that I believe in that writing is an art, but publishing is the business of selling that art.  Selling is completely different than creating.

My new question is:  What is the job of the blurb?
Many may jump back to the first answer.  It describes the book.  This is where the common thinking is wrong.  The job of the blurb is to get a customer to click on the "buy now" button.  To help explain how I got here, we need to take a quick look at the customer buying experience.

In a book store, the buying experience is completely different from buying online.  You have new shiny books up front to catch your eye.  Better sellers on the shelf sit with the cover facing out and older books if they are even present, only have the spine facing you.  The cover of the book is still king.  It's what catches your eye.  It's what has the authors name on it.  It's what instantly tells you the genera and what the book is probably about in a single glance.

Next if you pick up a book, you might glance at the back, but odds are it's just got the same "this book is stunning... again" chop quotes that every other book has.  So you get to thumb through it.  Feel it in your hands.  You can tell how long it might take you to read it because you can see how many pages there are.  All of this factors into your choice to buy a book or not.  Buying an e-book...  You get none of this.

The e-book buying experience is night and day different.  You have a cover, that is the size of a large postage stamp.  That's it.  If your cover catches someone's eye, they get taken to your books landing page.  Here they are presented with a lot more information.  A larger sample of the cover.  Prices, format, reviews and your blurb.  But the MOST important part of your landing page is the "buy now" button.

Up front and center of the landing page is your blurb.  It has only one job.  Getting the customer to click the buy now button.  Anything else the customer clicks on is one click that is not spent on buying your book.  Now that you understand the difference in buying experiences, treating your e-book blurb like the back jacket of a print book is flawed.

Creating a blurb that says your book is fun filled, action packed and if you like this other series, you might like this one too, is the wrong way to approach writing your blurb.


  1. What a great read!

    Thanks very much. Makes me glad to follow your blog on a daily basis.

    1. Thank you Dale. It's been a while since the last update, but I plan on doing a few more about blurbs for self published authors.