Blurb? What's that???

blurb  
–noun
1.a brief advertisement or announcement, esp. a laudatory one: She wrote a good blurb for her friend's novel.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

Blurb. It's a funny little word, but it has the power to spark the interest of an editor or a reader. From a one or two sentence description of the story to the back cover of the book, a blurb gives a quick overview to a reader. That reader may be an editor looking over a query letter or a customer standing in a store, perusing the shelves for a book to buy.

A blurb is a hook. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it doesn’t tell the whole plot, simply the setup of the story. Pull out an old TV Guide for ideas, because those short descriptions of shows are blurbs. Surprised? Don’t be. Go for high concept, much like those TV show descriptions. Focus on the GMC (Goal, Motivation & Conflict) of one or both characters, add some strong nouns and descriptive verbs, and you have a blurb that can be used in a query letter or even in a face to face pitch to an editor.

It may take some time to get the hang of writing blurbs. It isn't always easy at first. But once you become more comfortable writing them, blurbs can be your best marketing tool.


For more information on blurbs aka high concept pitches aka hot premise and how to write ones that will make an editor sit up and take notice, check out Alicia Rasley’s article, "The Promise of the Hot Premise".

6 comments:

Reese Mobley said...

Blurbs, like everything else in this biz, takes practice. I think it helps to read other back cover blurbs for catch phrases or stronger verbs you maybe hadn't thought of. Do you write your blurb before or after you finish your book?

Joan Vincent said...

Rox,
You nailed blurb. Distilling the book down to that point is sometimes easier than a synopsis but not always.
One way to "practice" is to write the blurb for a book you've read and loved and then check the blurb on the back to see how close you came.
Thanks for the link to Alicia Rasley’s article--it's great too.

Roxann Delaney said...

Writing about a blurb is harder than writing a blurb!

I write a blurb to include in the cover letter of a proposal, so it's written before the book is finished, but rarely before I ever start writing. It usually takes writing the first chapter or even first three chapters for me to get to know my characters. As I'm writing, ideas for scenes come to mind, so I jot them down, keeping major turning points in mind. By the time those chapters are finished, I'm ready to plot the book and can manage a blurb. Sometimes the blurb comes before writing the synopsis, sometimes after. But that's my "method" and every writer has her/his own.

Roxann Delaney said...

Joan, you and Reese are both right. Using a back cover blurb can be a big help in learning to write blurbs. I'm sooooo glad Harlequin does the back cover copy! They have some of the best phrases.

Alicia explains things so well, I decided the link was much better than me stumbling through an explanation. :)

Roxann Delaney said...

Okay, I wasn't completely truthful. I wrote a blurb for a book I hope will be part of a current series before writing a word of the manuscript.

Starla Kaye said...

Excellent job in explaining writing blurbs. I always write my story's blurb and send it in with my full submission, but I really never write synopses these days. I love writing blurbs.