Thursday, April 2, 2015

Part seven: Passive blurb vs Active blurb. Blurb writing 101 for self published authors.

Writing is an art, publishing is the business of selling that art.  When you are marketing your book, there are active advertising and passive advertising.  Your Amazon landing page is an example of passive marketing.  It has your beautiful cover, your snazzy blurb and people can surf the web and wander past at their leisure.  Your not actively driving traffic to your book.  An active marketing situation would be when you tweet about your book, a newsletter or email goes out to people that includes your book, or you're running a paid ad.  In simple terms, you are actively trying to drive traffic to your book.

Now why after spending all the time to get this far into writing the perfect blurb would you need a different one?  The one you have is perfect isn't it?  Have you tried tweeting a blurb?  I think I have a set of snazzy blurbs, but they won't twitter.

Advertising websites and their mailing lists.  I recommend you sign up for a few of them and begin to see how they present books to potential customers.  Some do a really good job like Bookbub.  Other websites...  Not so much.  You may find your book crammed between a "How to Make Your Own Creamed Corn" and "Taboo Erotica".

Many self-published authors haven't taken the time to analyze their landing pages.  Amazon (and others) have a wealth of information about your book once a customer has clicked.  Genera is clearly displayed on the left in a searchable tree layout.  Below your blurb is the ranking and possible top 100 lists your book is in.  There is a string of other books that are similar to yours.  All of this helps a customer quickly with a glance to identify if they are looking at.  When you start to advertise.  All of this extra information is stripped away.  You're left with only the cover, and what few lines for a description the advertiser gives you.

Many of the established recommendations on how to write blurbs go out the window in these situations.  Normally you wouldn't put in your blurb: "Sky Mages is a Time Travel Steampunk Fantasy filled with magical fights, airship battles and second chances."  (horrible example I know).  But that might be all the room you get in that e-mail blast.  So how do you write a custom blurb for active advertising when you can't use your existing one?  Distill it down.  Lean on the other asset that is in the ad, the cover.  Break all the rules if you have to as long as you keep the one rule of a blurb in mind.  It's job is to get the customer to buy.

Example Tweet blurbs may look something like this:
A thousand years ago, Angela made a choice and died.  Now the last of her kind she gets to choose again.
There is no room for magic and prophecy in Kail's life, but one woman's arrival from the ancient past shatters that.
Airships, check. Magic, check. Time Travel, check. Destiny, check. Sky Mages, check. The saga begins with the Gateway of Time.

A single paragraph example for an email advertiser:
A thousand years ago, Angela is recruited at her death to help fulfill a prophecy.  Now the last of her kind she might get a second chance if she plays her part.  Kail lives in a world of airships and industry.  Magic is forgotten and Angela's arrival shatters his perception.  General Therion can pervert magic and he wants what Kail doesn't even know he has.  A birthright of magic and the secrets of the Gateway.

Be aware and be prepared to have shorter versions of your blurb ready when you need them.  Don't try to whip up a shorter blurb five minutes after you just paid for an ad spot somewhere.

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